Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Candle of Hope

Tinsel, bells, glitter, lights, sweet songs of praise, warm  greetings between friends and family reunions, happy excited wide eyed children, anticipation, expectations, traditions, caring and sharing

These words conjure up the Christmas/holiday ‘moments of joy’ we have grown up with and know and love.  If you have been dealing with great personal loss these old sentimental moments of joy may fall upon dark hollow ground.

There is light at the end of the tunnel.  It is a faded light that replaces the warmth that once wrapped itself around you at this time of the year.  But there is hope because, like it or not, life does go on.  It is a life off kilter, spinning a little sideways from how it used to be and you may find yourself hanging on and hoping not to fall into oblivion.  But there is hope.  You can weather the storm.  It will be okay and life does go on.  You will find a balance again.  The world will always be a little different.  You may even feel you have become colder and more cynical.  Less tolerant. It’s okay.  Life will resume, just a little differently.  I imagine it is much like having lost a limb but learning to walk or write again.  It can happen with the right aides and help. Everyone gets through this in their own way, so I cannot provide a formula.  It just happens and life goes on.

I go through the motions and I do have enjoyment watching the faces of small children as they experience the magic and joy at this time of year.  It brings back happy memories of my children and the lovely times we had.  It also reminds me that one of them is missing for no reason that we can understand.  The sadness of that ambiguous loss is beyond words.
But life does go on and while it does I make the best of what I can and keep the candle of hope burning.           

Monday, December 12, 2016

Here is a blog I wrote a few years ago, I updated it, as its now 20 years on.

So This Is Christmas 
It is our 20th Christmas without Damien. 

How has Christmas changed? Totally. I used to be all about Christmas.  Loved it and planned for it. I enjoyed spending time with my children and we had our traditions that we loved every year.  Favourite shows to watch, school plays, favourite foods to prepare and decorating the house.  All the things that one does in anticipation of the wonderful unfolding of Christmas and the family joys it brings. The wonderment of little children and the squeals of delight as they see the presents under the tree.  I loved to walk home from work through town and see Christmas lights happily dangling across streets, bustling with shoppers laden with bags of holiday food and gifts, heading home as the day turned to night.  I loved Christmas and the feelings of happiness and joy were tangible.  Now we have had 15 years of loss.  Damien is gone. I don’t feel the joy anymore. We have a hole in the center of our family and we don’t know why.

After Damien went missing in November 1996 we went about our usual preparations, but instead of joy, I felt fear.  The tree was trimmed and presents were purchased and placed under the tree. We waited every day for the sound of him coming home, but it never happened.  We honestly thought he would be home by Christmas.  It was unthinkable that he would not be found by then. 

This was the beginning of the new, changed Christmas. The joy was gone and I tried ever so hard to keep it all together for my other children.  I did all the same things. School plays and festivals and shows and traditions. But I was quaking inside with sadness. I felt guilty the second Christmas doing anything because he was not here.  It was clear he was nowhere to be found and probably would not be walking through the door.  But for the children’s sake we went through the motions.

I think that is how Christmas has become…going through the motions and trying oh so hard to ‘feel’ the joy, but quietly and methodically avoiding the knowledge that this is all for show and there is no joy at all, not as I knew it.  Putting on a good face and making it the best that I can for the children.  I listen to the Christmas music old and new. I am trying to muster a tiny tiny glimmer of feeling, but it is gone and I am numb. No matter how many Christmas programs I watch, it is gone. 

I have grandchildren and I watch the shows with them that I watched with their daddy and his brother Damien, and his sisters.  I am trying so very very hard to feel something, but it is just so difficult to find any feelings at all.  I am numb. I love to be with the grandchildren and watch little faces…. but still - I am numb.  I think every soft mushy, tender, soppy, warm, happy, gushy, sentimental feeling is gone.  

I feel content the grandchildren are excited. I am satisfied that my effort to continue to do Christmas has given my children the desire to continue with the traditions and enjoy the anticipation of the season with their own children.  I hope I saved Christmas for them a bit by not giving up completely but by making the best of a bad situation and doing the right thing for those left behind to cope with the loss of a loved, cherished child, and brother.