Julie Seedorf: Loss can be felt deeply in the holiday season

Published 9:00 pm Sunday, November 5, 2017

Something About Nothing by Julie Seedorf

“Grief doesn’t have a plot. It isn’t smooth. There is no beginning and middle and end.” — Ann Hood

Grief is strange. It pops up when you least expect it, blotting out the sunshine and carrying you back into a sea of sadness. It happened to me this week starting with an ache in my heart. I missed my mother. I wanted to walk out of my house and across town and visit her in her home and sit by the floor furnace and talk. I didn’t have any particular subject in mind. I was missing our mother-daughter time by that furnace grate. It has been 15 or more years since we were able to spend time together. I am not one to remember death dates for anyone. I prefer to remember life dates such as birthdays. I can’t tell you what year she died.  Just when I think I am over her death, like a jack-in-the-box, the sharp twinge of grief pops up, taking over my body. It is an ache in my heart which feels as if a part of it is missing.

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Perhaps it is the time of the year, November, when holiday cheer is rife, but for many, sadness overtakes the joy and doesn’t let them savor the holidays.

We don’t only grieve for those we lost to death. We feel loss for many different reasons. For me, I feel the loss of a special family member who because of divorce is no longer a part of my life anymore. Love doesn’t stop because of a divorce. I feel loss for a special dog that is missing from my home because a former illness would no longer let me care for him. I feel loss for a way of life when jobs went away and nothing replaced them so we had to adjust to the simpler way of living. I felt loss when two of my best friends moved away and we could no longer get together at the spur of a moment. Loss came through a broken leg, a broken foot and an illness which laid me low, followed by depression and anxiety because of it.

Loss can be felt deeply at holidays when families are split, or our childhood families are no longer living or distance makes it hard for families to be together when togetherness is needed the most.

We all grieve for different reasons, and our memories and emotions are unique to each of us. It doesn’t have to be a big event to make us feel those twinges of sadness. It can be an outside force such as losing a favorite restaurant that holds memories or a favorite pair of shoes which marked a special occasion. Feeling the emotions of grief is not relegated to certain rules or people or places.

Some people grieve in silence and others grieve loudly. Our feelings, that twinge in our hearts, show up when we least expect it. It is what we choose to do with that ache that makes the difference.

Occasionally I will sit with it and feel all I need to feel. Other times I need to ask for help to find a solution so it doesn’t pull me under. Or I work on gratitude. There is so much to be thankful for in each and every part of the things that made my heart break.

I had a wonderful mother, and accepting our relationship was occasionally oil and water doesn’t negate that thankfulness. She and my father taught me right from wrong. My family had a wonderful person in our lives, and this person gave us beautiful grandchildren. I will be forever thankful for that person. Sam, my pooch, gave me unconditional love when I was sick and he comforted me through it. Now he is happy with children who make him jump and play. We made it through job loss and we came out stronger. My friends are a phone call away. I am grateful they accepted me as I am. How lucky I was to have friendships like that in my lifetime. Through illness I learned to be thankful for every day and I found I had a strength I didn’t know I had.

The best advice when I was laid low six years ago was from my pastor daughter. She pointed out I hadn’t taken time to grieve all the loss I felt in my life the last five years. I was the energizer bunny through it all. She told me to take the time to grieve, to rest and to get stronger. Feeling someone cared made all the difference in the world for me.

Holidays are coming and I am thankful I have the memories I do of family holidays, and though families change we are still a family — only evolving.

You might ask why I am sharing these things with you. Grief is a sad subject. I can’t find anything funny to say about it. I decided to touch on this subject because in this chaotic world people are grieving about their lives and feeling guilty for having an ache in their hearts at what should be a joyous time. I want others to know they are not alone.

I don’t have answers. I know what works and doesn’t work for me. I know the grief I feel never goes away, but joy fills more places in my heart than sadness. I want to remember both because it is what made my life mine.

If the holidays are a sad time for you or if your emotions are more than you can handle, please reach out to social services, your medical doctor, your church pastor or priest or a valued friend. It is in sharing that caring hearts connect.

Wells resident Julie Seedorf’s column appears every Monday. Send email to her at hermionyvidaliabooks@gmail.com.