I wonder if people look at me sometimes and think I’ve got my stuff together. Well, I do post inspirational quotes on social media and I’ve written two books on grief and I have a podcast about grief – so I must be doing okay! Little do people know but sharing information about grief on social media and writing about it is not just about supporting others going through grief – it’s for my benefit too.
I miss my son Matthew everyday even though spiritually I believe our loved ones do not die. Their consciousness – their souls, live on, but my human experience misses him dreadfully. The waves of grief are a normal part of the grieving process, and I will always be triggered by certain situations. The waves can come randomly out of the blue and bring me to my knees or make me just feel sad. It may be a crashing wave, a gentle lap, or a tsunami. This is grief.
Recently I found myself in the Christmas isle of a well known supermarket admiring all the pretty decorations for sale. I was particularly drawn to a large hanging frosted icicle for £2.99. What a bargain for such a nice decoration. I envisioned where to hang it, maybe in the hallway window so passers-by could also see it. For a moment I felt the joy of Christmas and lots of happy flashbacks went through my mind. Wonderful memories of when our family wasn’t broken. Then it hit me! Like a tsunami of emotion. Sadness, guilt, anger, and other emotions that have no label. I could feel the tears pooling in my eyes and my legs shaking beneath me. I had unconsciously wandered into this isle and suddenly I felt overwhelmed by a massive grief wave.
I managed to walk out the store and get to my car but then the flood gates opened. Oh, my goodness, that was a big one. I swam with that grief wave for the rest of the day and cried myself to sleep that night.
I missed him so much and anything to do with Christmas seemed to trigger me. This will be our seventh year without Matthew, and maybe you think I’d be okay, but it will always be sad without him. I came out of the wave spluttering and feeling washed out and I knew I would. My track record for getting through the waves is 100%.
I kept thinking about the frosted icicle decoration for days afterwards. I couldn’t get it out of my mind. Something was telling me to go back and buy it. I realised eventually that it was Matthew. He wants me to celebrate Christmas. He wants me to feel the love and joy of this special time of year.
So I went back to the shop and bought it, and I felt Matthew was with me. In that moment, I experienced the joy of Christmas knowing my boy was with me. That’s the greatest gift. If the frosted icicle is the only Christmas decoration I put up this year, it will be enough.
Whatever your Christmas preparations are this year, connect to your loved ones. It will always be sad that they can’t be here physically with you, but they are with you in your heart. The greatest gift for them, would be for you to make peace with that.
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