Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Best of AM - Tis the Season - for Sadness

This is a blog post I originally wrote in December of 2009, updated slightly at the end.  This is not going to be a happy Christmas for my spouse's family, which brings back a memory of many years ago.  The subject of Blue Christmases came up in a family conversation yesterday, with a family member feeling guilty because she hasn't sent any cards out this season.

The holidays are not a happy time for everyone, and this post is dedicated to everyone in that situation this year. 

I will ask only one thing from my readers: If you know someone in that situation, reach out to them, even in a small way.  It will mean so much to them.

Tis the Season....for Sadness

Happy Holidays!

No, that's not true.

The holidays are not happy for everyone. 

11 years ago December 25.....  Spouse and I were at my in-laws on Christmas Day.  They live about 150 miles from where we live.  We had a nice day with other family members, and settled down to watch "It's a Wonderful Life"  with my mother in law and father in law.  Then we went to bed.

My father in law never woke up.  He died during the night of a massive heart attack, his third.

Imagine my mother in law, spending the day after Christmas arranging for the funeral of her husband of nearly 50 years.    The decisions that had to be made quickly, oh so quickly.  The little things, like flowers being almost impossible to come by (flowers being a part of their culture's funeral tradition).  Or us having to borrow clothes for the funeral-most people don't visit for Christmas with black clothes in their suitcase!  Those little details, in a sea of all the major details, on a holiday weekend.

The family gathered again but this time for a much sadder occasion.  Many people came to the funeral home, and it was a great comfort.  But then everyone had to go home, including us.

And then the next Christmas rolled around.  It was not easy.  But we survived, and each year it became easier.  My mother in law has established her independence, and enjoys Christmas with family.

It never goes away but it does become easier.  Although, I have never watched "It's a Wonderful Life" again.

Years ago I worked with someone whose husband died from cancer on Thanksgiving.  In my youth I couldn't understand why Thanksgiving was so hard for her.

Now I understand.

"Blue Christmas" is more than an Elvis song.  For those who have experienced loss:  loss of a loved one, loss of a relationship, loss of a job, the holidays can be so hard to survive, whether or not you are a Christian.  Wherever you go, you are surrounded by smiling Santas, by holiday decorations, by endless carols blaring at work, at the supermarket, at the mall, by constant reminders that everyone is happy.  Except you.

But, you are not alone.  And you will get through it, although it may take a long time.

Time is your friend.  It was for me, and my family, after the events of 2009.  It will be again.

I just need to tell that to myself, again and again.


  1. Oh, Alana, I'm so sorry. It is so hard that that sudden death of your loved one happened right at Christmastime. I hope and pray that there will be a day when you enjoy the smiling Santas and the goofy Christmas movies and all the rest, without that pang of grief. And thank you for reminding your readers that there are people among them every day who do struggle through the holidays, for one reason or another. It takes so little time to be sensitive of others' pain and reaching out.

  2. It is a reminder that things always lurk below the surface.... Like someone's birthday a week before Xmas...


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