Grieving Through Celebrations

A girl’s mother passed away. Her relationship with her remaining family is strained. She wonders if she should attend holiday celebrations or stay home.

When her mother was alive, there were years that the girl would opt out of gatherings and it didn’t feel wrong. But this first year without Mom feels different. Depending on her choice of attendance, she will appear either avoidant or unbidden.

In a situation that used to know the presence of our beloved, we feel disoriented despite the familiarity. A customary fixture is absent, and gone with it is a sense of order. Even the things about a person that might have once annoyed us are mysteriously missed.

The gap between mourning and celebrating is unsettling. I know that I cannot hope to enjoy what will be if I continue to mourn what used to be. But moving on feels like infidelity to the one who is gone. It’s a predicament – feeling bad doesn’t feel good, but feeling good feels wrong.

If there was a magic formula or a timeline to follow, perhaps grief would be more palatable. But the process is diverse and unregulated. We must tailor our own bereavement and healing, stitching together the threads of understanding we gather in the process.

Healing takes time and time takes time. Giving grief the dignity it deserves and being willing to follow its lead is our best chance at finding peace through loss.

One day, maybe sooner or later than we expect, we rediscover the lightness and brightness that was temporarily muffled. Joy returns with soft approach, tiptoeing its way into our heart, filling the cracked spaces until they become less like chasms and more like tiny windows to the Love story of Life.

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