Another year of holidays come and go... another cycle of grief lingering. The holidays are never easy - always the stress to not feel alone, the pressure to jump in there with everyone, celebrate the occasions and friends and family around me and be happy as everyone else is, make the toasts, kiss at new years and get on to the next year. Look forward, not back. Celebrate, not mourn. Join in, don't wait to be included. But grief isn't like that and losing your spouse doesn't provide so easily for that most especially in group settings - all group settings.
This year more than ever, it lingers. Perhaps it is the weekends of bar/bat mitzvahs this year, but I am feeling the grief as if I am back to year one. These are certainly happy occasions and I am honored to have so many friends who genuinely want to include me. But they also have stirred up a lot of grief for me that frankly I have not felt since that first year ... the always alone, the father speeches that my children will not have, the being at a party when nobody asks if I need a drink, an escort to a table or even having a seat at a table, the all of a sudden standing alone in a room full of people and having everyone else in a group. It seems so easy to walk up and join but when you are "alone" it just isn't always that easy - so many life moments that nobody thinks about until they experience it. I no longer expect people to think about me in these situations but I can't help but have the feelings of aloneness when I am at these events and certainly during the holidays, always.
I guess it is a good time to reiterate, not just for the widows and widowers in your life but for people in general - look around - help people remember those loved ones that are gone, talk about them, tell stories about them, honor their memory. Someone recently turned to me at a bat mitzvah and said these simple words "This must be really hard for you." - wow, what a moment of comfort and relief those few simple words brought to my heart. I will never forget that kind person.
Look around, for that person in a group that isn't being included, that needs a nudge to join a conversation or a table to eat at, perhaps is walking alone between venues. Most people don't choose to be alone.... we just forget them along our way.
Hugs to all,