Thursday, November 14, 2013

Dear Family and Friends

whenever i start thinking about what we are going to do for the holidays i get really overwhelmed. there are so many unknowns. anticipating what we are going to feel like or need on any given day is already difficult, then throw in a major holiday surrounded by family, gift giving, giddy children, party planning, house decorating, expectations, wish list making... it's too much.

speaking of a christmas wish list, what do i want this year? just noah. everything else feels meaningless and void.

this is going to be a very different holiday season than any other john and i have ever had. a little less jolly. a little less sweet.

and then i find myself worried about what others are going to think. will family be hurt if we aren't able to host house guests or a big meal? will people think we are overreacting and should just suck it up and be happy? "it's the most wonderful time of the year!"

last week at our support group meeting "the holidays" were a major topic of conversation. one woman made john and i exchange smiles when she said, "we had personal success when we bought one pumpkin for halloween and put it on the doorstep. it's not even carved, but it's there."

we totally hear you.

i have no idea where all my energy is going, but there's a black hole in grief that seems to suck every last bit of motivation, creativity and life-love completely out of my body and spirit. sounds a little dramatic, but whatever. it's true.

anyway, at support group while we were chatting about the holidays, inevitably family relations were a common thread. how do you communicate to family and friends what you're going through and shed some light on what you need? so they passed out this letter. and i'm thankful i have this forum to share it.

Dear Family and Friends,

Thank you for not expecting too much from us this holiday season.

The absence of Noah when the "whole family" gathers seems to accentuate our incomplete family. It is difficult to cope with the "spirit" of the holidays on the radio, TV, in the stores, and even at church. We will need the patience and understanding of our family and friends to help us through the holidays as best we can.

Our family traditions may be too painful for us to continue this year. We may want to change the way we spend Thanksgiving or Christmas. Please understand this and maybe sometime in the future we will have these traditions again. Whatever our thoughts are for coping with the day, please take our feelings into consideration when you make your plans. 

Please allow us to talk about Noah, if we feel a need. Perhaps the single most helpful thing you can do for us is to include Noah in the holidays. We want to hear his name, to have you recall fond memories of his life, to know that you, too, are feeling his absence and remembering him with love.

As we work through our grief, we will need your patience and support, especially during these holiday times and the special days throughout the year.

Thank you for not expecting too much from us this holiday season.


may i say that just today i was given a bit of hope about the holidays. after feeling very anxious about it all, my TSIL (twin sister in law) texted me and asked if john and i would like to join them in creating a new christmas tradition. like maybe putting together care packages for nicu families at seattle children's. or bake cookies for the nurses there. something we can continue to do with kiddos in the years to come. it's like she read this letter before i even posted it.

her idea was like a breath of fresh air.
sweet. thoughtful. proactive.

i am so grateful for the creativity and thoughtfulness of others, especially at a time when my mind is absolute mush. because i really want so badly to do special things, to honor noah, to make the holiday more about jesus and giving than receiving material crap, but i just have no clue how or any energy to make it happen.

thanks for continuing to remind me there will be bright spots of light this season. even in the darkness of grief.

oh great light of the world
come to impart
the light of your grace
to fill up my heart
-bebo norman-

1 comment:

  1. Bravo to you, McCayla. Well done. Be ready in case some friends and family members think they know better about how you should face these coming holidays. Stand your ground and stick close to those who honor your needs. You are so loved. Let it soak into your very core. Blessings!