My family members, as it happened, passed on or near holidays, Christmas time, Fourth of July, my wedding anniversary, New Years Eve, my birthday. It’s not like they planned their deaths to occur on days that would be a constant reminder of their deaths that’s just the way my road in life lead.
I had children that I was raising so I kept my thoughts about this “holiday passing” to myself and refused to let the holidays be anything but happy for my family. It was hard, but not painful to the point I couldn’t function, that would come later.
It’s funny how we can fill our lives and our minds to distract us from our troubles. I told myself that I was a strong person and that I carried on for my kids and their happiness, after all you can’t walk this earth wounded very minute of every day, right?
This is what I learned the hard way…..
Distractions are just that, they keep you busy but you don’t heal. I woke up one morning and my kids were grown and thriving in the world and I looked around for someone I knew and that’s when the grief and pain of losing everyone came down on me like a wave of nausea. It was Christmas time and I fumbled through crying to myself everyday and not understanding why. Grieving, although it might make others uncomfortable, is necessary part of our human function. When we grieve we are aware of our loss and the changes it will make in our lives. When we choose to be the strong soldier our grief will find its way out of our bodies sometime in some form whether we want it to or not.
If you are grieving then carry on and don’t worry so much about others feeling uncomfortable around you, you can always apologize later if you want. Distractions are just that – distractions – not because you are super human or emotionally untouchable it just means you are choosing not to deal with something at that particular moment.
Grief will come, it’s just part of who we are as humans.
I published this 2 years ago but I think it still is true again this year on Flag Day.
I remember flag day when I was younger as a an early start to the 4th of July. In the 1960’s many homes displayed the American flag year round and some just on certain days. I understood Memorial Day very well, the visits to the cemeteries, the family, the picnics, barbecue, and of course the end of school!!
I remember that flags would be displayed, removed , and then displayed again throughout the summer. I realize now that was due to Memorial Day, Flag Day, and then the 4th of July. I don’t remember asking an adult about the flags displayed on and off ,but then flags were a common element of every neighborhood.
The American flag holds much more meaning to me today than those of my childhood summers. When I see the American flag today I see my youngest brother who served his country in the Navy when he was just 17, I see his coffin draped with a flag when he died at 37, I see the people who have taken to the streets carrying the flag asking for equality, I see astronauts landing on the moon and placing a flag into its ground, I see the ashes of the twin towers and the Murray federal building with a flag firmly placed in the ruble.
What I don’t see is as many American flags displayed as I did as a child. Is Flag Day lost or just our pride for the flag itself?
I remember when I was a little girl and how I loved looking forward to a holiday. My younger brother and I celebrated them together in every wish, dream, and moment. It was our time then. We would excite ourselves with the idea of Easter morning chocolate bunnies and spring toys. Christmastime we spent hours thumbing through store catalogs marking the pages of everything we wanted by bending the page or using a permanent black magic marker to circle the desires that year. We would Trick or Treat on Halloween and come home to sort and group our candy in neat little piles before counting them and gorging ourselves. I would always run out of chocolate candy first as I had an enormous sweet tooth and my brother would pretend not to notice that I ate his when mine was gone.
These holidays were my childhood and were some of my best holiday moments. No one realizes that until those moments are long gone. As an adult I was given the gift of having children to celebrate these moments with and I loved every second of every holiday. Even as I celebrated these moments I knew that they would stop some day and my job would warp into the final stage of observer. My participation would be more “watching” than “doing”.
At first the role seemed strange to me but I have learned by watching my children being the “doers” in holiday celebrations just how lucky I really am. I love reliving in my mind how my younger brother and I celebrated together and the only sad part is that he is not here to share our memories together. I watch my children build their own lives and I know how lucky I am to have raised them and had those moments. I still love holidays and the family time that they bring but I have learned that it’s ok to sit them out and let them be celebrated by the here and now. I enjoy watching others live what I have learned. I hope that my children will see someday how wonderful their lives have been as I do now.
Once I realized that what I wanted was not the "norm" for people my age, and that I really no longer cared what anybody thought, I found my perfect little place to rent. Yes, I said rent. I had owned homes as I noted in the first part of this story and that was what I needed then but not really what I needed now. My children have grown and they all have homes which I enjoy going to. It was time to let go.
I let go of the control of family gatherings. I enjoy having them at my children's home. It nice to watch them grow as families and start their own traditions. I let go of stuff. How many of one item does any human being need? The holiday decorations were the first to go. I saved only the items that had meaning to me and gave the rest to the kids to sort before donation.
All the the childhood memories I kept in boxes I gave to each of my kids to sort through on their own. My job as the memory keeper was finished. I was never one to hold on to a lot of clothing but it needed some trimming too. The next items to evaluate were " family heirlooms". I have a few things that are special to me but the ones that weren't I gave an option to my kids and if they didn't want them they were donated. I use my mother's China EVERYDAY instead of waiting for 3 times a year. The kitchen was last and easiest for me. One of everything with the exception of baking pans and casserole dishes. I also use the silverware given to me by my mother EVERYDAY. I set up my workroom in the loft of my apt and I only have one bedroom.
What? Is she crazy? Doesn't she want to pass down things generation to generation? Why is my answer. Unless you are leaving land ( which their not making any more of ) I don't see any reason. It's just STUFF. I lost all my family- mother, father, brothers by the time I was 45. People are important, stuff is just stuff. People who have a enormous amounts of it seem to be doing one or more of the following:
A) always looking for it
B) worried about others taking it
C) cleaning it
D) wanting more
You get the idea. Oh and one more thing- I hate to break it to you but your kids don't want your stuff. It may be painful to accept but if your heirlooms have meaning to you then enjoy them everyday. Talk to your kids about your stuff. If they like something then why not give it to them now instead of waiting until your death? When people are grieving is not the best time for them to divide items among them. Feelings are raw and emotions are high and you expect your children to sit down and rationally sort through everyone of your items?
I think we can all remember a family we know that this did not work for following the death of a parent, uncle, grandparent, etc.
I found it freeing. Freeing of my time, worry, emotion. I found it to be a very peaceful to purge. Just a thought………
For the month of July ONLY I have lowered the price of my Christmas memorial crosses to $18.00 each and that’s with FREE SHIPPING!
Check out Floralmemorials on Etsy.com OR Bonanza.com
And you can always buy from my website at http://www.floralmemorials.shop
After this month you will not see Christmas crosses until the fall.