Surviving Difficult Holidays

Sunset Dandelion Wishes SCHWARK

How do you survive difficult holidays? Yesterday, the internet exploded with photos and tributes to moms. Old photos of moms and kids from decades ago. I think Fortina’s Instagram post summed it up perfectly.

Moms should be thanked and celebrated. They help shape and mold us into the people that we are today after all, so yes; they should at least get flowers and a meal out in their honor.

But here’s the thing; Mother’s Day and many other holidays are NOT always an easy day for everyone. I bet you might even be surprised to see just how many of your friends are left in tears on holidays like yesterday. How do I know this? Because for the million blessings I have to be grateful for on Mother’s Days, it also used to be a day when I would be mournful of what I had lost. For some time before I had my daughter, I had dealt with the struggle of infertility and miscarriages. It didn’t mean that I wasn’t overjoyed for my family and friends honoring their moms, and it didn’t stop me from celebrating the incredible moms in my life, but it was a painfully gut wrenching day that would arrive every year. It was a little easier to avoid back before social media became a part of our lives, and I’ve since learned how to embrace and truly enjoy the holiday, delighted to watch how my daughter chooses to celebrate the moms in her life, but years ago, it was a challenging day for me.

Since then, though, I’ve thought about those who struggle with this holiday and others like it. For me personally, now as a single mom, there are still things about many holidays that sting. They have a way of putting a spotlight on what you feel most at a loss of, or what you will never have, while you are bombarded with images and heartfelt messages from those closest to you, honoring what they have. It’s not intentional, and none of it is done to make you feel even more alone, but sometimes, that’s what it feels like. Those who post the most moving messages would probably be heartbroken to know that their words could have caused you to crumble into a million pieces, but for some, that is the reality of days like yesterday. And, in my “let’s lay it all out there on the line” way to help others to feel not so alone, here are some of the times when I myself had become a crawl-under-the-covers-and-sobbing mess:

  • Mother’s Day, while reading the thoughtfulness extended by spouses, celebrating the person who mothers their child.
  • Father’s Day, and not having the chance any longer to honor the father of my child in the way that I had dreamt of when she was born.
  • Anniversaries, mine, yours, those of someone’s grandparents whose marriage spans decades, it doesn’t matter; they all, at one time or another, have made me cry out and question God for not allowing me to continue down that path.
  • Birthdays, Valentine’s Day, First days of school, Christmas and so on and so on… every time there are photos of happy in-tact families, they all had unsuspectingly snuck upon me and caught me off guard when I was still raw and vulnerable.

So, how do we celebrate what we have, while still being empathetic for those who don’t fall into the “traditional” on holidays? Do we tread lightly, do we not post and share our sincerest thoughts and heartfelt celebrations?

On my toughest days, when I was literally brought to my knees by the pain of what I had lost, it was the celebrating of others that pulled me back up. There was purpose in mourning the loss, and there was no way around it, only through it. But they were my light at the end of the tunnel, some of them even acting as reminders to me that their journey was a long and difficult one. Would I have wanted those I love most to forgo celebrating because I was in pain? Not at all! Everyone suffers from loss in one way or another. Loss of a parent, loss of a child, loss of a loved one, loss of a vision that they once had for their own future. Loss is hard. But when we finally get to the other side, when we fill our glasses again with joy- then it should be celebrated! I want to see those who have overcome struggle, taste the sweetness in lIfe again. I want to see those who have suffered loss, rebuild and grow. I’ll never forget what it is like to feel that pain, but it only makes the blessings received on the other side even more appreciated.

*If you find yourself still under the covers for any reason today, hang on for brighter days. I can tell you first hand that your life may not look like what you had planned, but there are greater things waiting for you on the other side of loss. One day, you’ll get there, and I’ll be here to celebrate with you.

2 comments on “Surviving Difficult Holidays
  1. So much love for this post. I love sharing Mother’s day with my mother, my mother-in-law, my sister-in-law, and all the awesome moms that life has brought me into contact with (you and Carlys both figure highly in my Pantheon, for lack of a better word, of awesome moms!). But at the same time, as much as I’d love a daughter or son, life hasn’t worked out that way. And it’s hard. So on those days, I try to focus on the people worth celebrating, and not the things I want for myself. It’s definitely not easy, but it helps!

    • Kristin, I debated for a while whether or not to share, but I’m so glad that I did! We can never assume that everyone’s life is perfect, dutifully following along the plans that they made. Whether it’s Mother’s Day, or another triggering holiday or event that pokes at what wounds us, some days just knowing that you are not walking alone and that there ARE better days ahead makes all the difference! You and Scott have been a reminder for me that there can be joy and happiness on the other side of the “unplanned,” so I can only hope that this post was a reminder that you are not alone in the struggle! (Looking forward to having you back east and within a drivable distance for an in-person catch up!)

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