This is generally the most wonderful time of the year, but for some it can be nearly unbearable. Christmas has always been my favorite Holiday, but for the past four years it has also become a very stressful time for me.
Four years, two months, and 5 days ago our family lost one of our twin boys.
Today, my surviving twin is understanding more and more about how he came into this world while his brother was leaving it. He cries at bedtime, wondering why he never got the chance to meet his brother. When he says his prayers at night, he asks for his brother to come visit him so they can play together. He asks me what he can do to welcome his angel into our house so that he can see him, just once.
It makes me heart ache to think of everything he is missing. I see the ornaments on the tree with his name. The stocking we hang for him every year that always remains empty. The Christmas wishes from my kids to Santa, asking only for him to bring their brother in heaven a gift this year. It can be utterly unbearable.
We keep his memory alive in everything we do, but it comes at a price. As I speak his name, I not only feel the love I have for him but also the deep sadness that comes from missing a piece of my heart. I just wish I could see his face, kiss his cheeks, and tell him how much I love him one more time.
And I know I am not alone in these feelings. There are so many people around the world that are missing their children. And not just on Christmas, but every single day of their lives. For people who have never lost a child, it can be difficult to fathom the pain that comes with it. It can be even harder to imagine how this loss, combined with anxiety and depression, can effect someone. How it can change their attitude and behavior from day-to-day. How it can change their energy level and motivation no matter how hard they fight against it.
Simple things in life can suddenly become unbearable. Getting out of bed, making it through a full day at the office, straightening up the house, washing the dishes, and even brushing their teeth can seem like too much to handle. We tend to put a smile on our face and push through these moments the best we can, but there is always an underlying sadness as we try to be human. And the worst part of it all? Not having the understanding from the people closest to you.
Do you know how hard it is to be made to feel like a failure each time you fail to accomplish something you were supposed to do? Have you ever had someone yell at you for not getting the dishes done? Or for forgetting to put a note in your child’s backpack for school? Or maybe for hitting the snooze button one too many times?
Have you gone through these moments, while also trying your hardest to push through your own internal voice, telling yourself what a horrible person you are? Sometimes I wonder what the people around me would think if they heard my internal voice on my bad days. I wonder if it would even change the things they say to me, or if they just wouldn’t care. If they knew that what they call laziness is really a physical and emotional inability to perform basic tasks, would it make a difference?
My goal for this upcoming Holiday is to stop letting other people’s opinions of my actions (or lack there of) bring me down. I will stop letting their voice permeate into my head, causing my self-doubt to grow. I will do my best to accomplish the tasks on my to-do list, and give myself some grace for those that I can’t. I will try to enlighten those around me with how I am feeling, and what it does to me. How my loss has changed me, and sometimes is overwhelming.
Yes, it has been four years. But loss doesn’t get easier as time goes by. It changes and morphs into something different over time, but it is always hard.
So if you see someone struggling, or feel the urge to judge a book by its cover this Christmas, try to remember that some of us are just trying to survive. Try picturing yourself in their shoes. Instead of making judgemental comments, think about how you would feel in their situation.
Give compassion. Give love. Give understanding.
Give a little grace.