“Hey there, what are you up to?”
I can hear his voice just as clear as my own.
“Nothing much, just prepping my ingredients to get ready to cook.” Would be my response. He’d call around the same time every year for one request and one request only.
“You’re making a pound cake?” He’d ask already knowing the answer.
“Of course I am.” I’d smile at the knowledge of how much he enjoyed him some pound cake.
Cooking for my daddy was one of the greatest joys of the holidays. Seeing him sitting at our table enjoying the food I’d prepared and served to him. That was the highlight of my Thanksgiving, but last year that call didn’t come. It didn’t come this year either, and it’ll never come again, not from him.
Now understand this isn’t my first rodeo with this feeling. I had it in 1990 when my mother passed, then again in 2012 with the loss of my daughter. It’s not like the rest of the year is a breeze when dealing with grief, but the holidays seem to add an extra dose of sadness… if you allow it.
The lessons I’m sharing aren’t from reading articles or performing interviews. These lessons come from real life experience. How I learned to keep the happy in the holidays.
Lesson 1: Recognize it for what it is.
If you’re sad, irritable, frustrated, and just not in the mood to deal with people, especially around this time, it could be that you’re grieving and don’t realize it. The funny thing about grief is it has a way of sneaking up on you and making you feel like you’re crazy. Your emotions are all over the place. Take some time for you. Listen to your feelings and don’t dismiss it as nothing. Allow yourself the time to grieve. Pushing it down won’t help. Cry if you need to cry. Scream if you need to scream. Slap someone if you….okay maybe that’s going too far :), but you get the point. Don’t brush it off.
Lesson 2: Talk about it.
These last few days I found myself feeling “blah.” I didn’t know why, all I knew was everyone was working my last nerve, though they probably didn’t see the eye rolls or hear the deep breaths… hopefully :). It wasn’t until I talked to my friend that I realized I was most likely feeling this way because the holidays are here and I’m missing my dad. After I talked with her, I felt so much better. My daughter even said you seem different. You’re acting goofier than usual LOL! Which takes me to my 3rd point.
Lesson 3: Try to be happy
During this time you have to try harder than normal to be happy. After you’ve cried or screamed, and talked to someone, then you put in the extra effort to be happy. Yesterday I joked around with the children and their laughter caused me to laugh. There’s something magical about laughter; you should try it. Find a funny movie or some funny Youtube videos. Before you know it you’ll start to feel lighter. It’s as if the laughter pushes the burden of grief right out of you. I’m serious it works, try it and see.
Lesson 4: Surround yourself with people
People feel like they’re down and they don’t want to bring others down, so they decide to stay home alone. BIG MISTAKE! Instead of going thinking you’ll bring others down, go with the attitude that they’re going to pull you up. Open yourself to receiving their energy instead of exerting yours on them.
I really hope these tips help you to have a happy holiday season. Remember that your happiness means more to your loved one than anything else. My parents and my baby were happy people. I’ll honor their memory by living the happiest life I can.