Your first Christmas without your Mum or Dad – Part 3
Ok so this is the last in my series of three blogs about handling your first Christmas after the death of your Mum or your Dad.
So if you’ve read my first two then you know:
a) that it’s ok to be fine on the day, and
b) where to put your awareness, what to look at and what to look for so that you aren’t missing who and what is going on around you.
But what about the parent you’ve lost? You want to be able to think about them. I’ve already said a couple of times that I don’t want you to try to push all thoughts of them aside or anything like that. If they are going to be on your mind and you are going to be thinking about them how do you do that without falling to bits?
There are two things I want to talk about in regards to remembering them and including them on Christmas day – how you think about them, and what you think about them.
How you think about your mum or dad
What I’m talking about here is connection. If you’ve spent any time in personal development or spirituality then this is a word you would have heard a heck of a lot. If I’m honest it bugs me a bit when it gets overused as a lot of times it has nothing to do with true connection.
I’m going to jump to a conclusion that I feel I can because I’ve been there and seen this more times than I can count. I’ve read it in books, blogs, magazine articles. I’ve spoken to clients about it. I’ve seen it in the faces of countless people who are stuck in grief. And here is my assumption – that right now you feel separate or disconnected from the parent that you’ve lost.
Perfectly natural, right? I actually disagree, so let’s rethink this for a moment.
What does it mean to feel connected to someone? What qualifies as connection and what doesn’t? Do you have to be able to physically see or talk to the person to feel connected to them? If you start looking at this it isn’t as simple as you think. Let me explain…..
I just got off the phone with a friend who also lives in London. We said goodbye and hung up. Do I now feel disconnected from him just because I can’t hear his voice anymore? Absolutely not.
Let’s try a little further afield. I have a friend in Australia who is having a birthday today and I wrote on her facebook wall this morning. I haven’t actually seen her or spoken to her in a year but I can see her pics and follow her updates and adventures on facebook. I don’t feel disconnected from her.
What about my mum and brother? They are in NZ. Neither is on facebook. They barely use email. I talk to them maybe once every two or three weeks. So for those spaces in between do I feel disconnected from them? No, I don’t.
So why is it different with someone who has died? Is it because we can’t see them, hear them, look at them, email them, touch them, facebook them, take photos of them? Hold on though – if that were the case then right now, while I am sitting alone in my bedroom, thinking and typing this blog, I am totally and utterly disconnected from everything and everyone. But I don’t feel like that at all. Maybe you’re also alone reading this. Do you feel cut-off and disconnected from everything and everyone in your life right now? No? Why not?
Here’s why. Your eyes, your ears, your sense of touch, your phone, your email, facebook, twitter….none of these things connect you to anyone – not in the way I’m talking about and not in the way we mean when we talk about being separate from the people we have lost. It is your heart that connects you to people who you love.
If not being able to see or speak to someone truly disconnected you from them then we would feel disconnected from all of the people we love majority of the time. But your heart doesn’t need the senses to connect.
Your senses may feel disconnected from your mum or dad, but your heart will never be. I know as well as the next person who has lost a parent that it can feel like you are totally cut off but that is just a lot of other stuff getting in the way right now. I will tackle this in a later blog as it is a huge topic – but your pain and your grief actually get in the way of your heart.
What you think about them
So often what happens when we are grieving is that we become fixated on their death, instead of their life. When you think of your mum or dad you might think about the fact that they are gone. When someone says something that reminds you of them you might think about the day they died or the way that they died. Your parent was present in some way, shape, or form your entire life until they died which may have been 10 years or 30 years or 60 years that you had them around. That’s a lot of time and a lot of memories. And yet all of that goes out the window and it becomes all about the seconds, minutes, weeks or months that it took them to die.
I don’t know about you but when I pass away I’d rather be remembered for my life than my death.
My dad was around for the first 27 years of my life. That makes for a heck of a lot of memories! The way I look at it I was dead lucky to be able to spend 27 years with such a cool guy. My dad rocked. You may well have never met the man and boy did you miss out. Sorry.
You can’t avoid thinking about their death – I get that – but for crying out loud, don’t stop thinking about their life. Take the time to think back over the memories you have of them, the things you learnt, the lessons they taught you – both through kindness and through cruelty. You have an entire 12-volume set of their life in your head and heart. Don’t just keep flicking back to that very last page and rereading that all the time. In fact it may not have been a page that you were even present for.
So what can you do on Christmas day?
Think about their death and the painful stuff if it comes up. That’s totally ok BUT also take the time to think about all of your other memories of them. And if you can, share them with the family or friends you are with. Toast your mum and your dad. Share stories that you have of them – good, bad, funny, embarrassing. Bring them to the party. You know they’d want to be there.
Consciously take the time to think about what you are thinking about them. Acknowledge them the way you will all of the other family or friends who are present.
If you want to stick with the last exercise (Christmas blog- part 2) then pull out pen and paper, or sit somewhere quiet, or go to the toilet (but not for too long. People will start to wonder) and take time out to think about them.
And this bit is so important: be brave. I can’t emphasise that enough. Don’t be scared to think about them. Your thoughts and memories can’t destroy you. The more you can think about them and look honestly at your feelings, the more you’ll be able to do something other than grieve.
I truly hope that these blogs have helped you. And I hope that you will have a lovely Christmas wherever you are, and whoever you are with, doing whatever is important to you. Just remember to work with how you’re feeling, however that might be, and think about and be grateful for the people who matter to you, both physically present and not.
I would love to hear your questions or thoughts on my blog, and also any questions you might like me to answer in the future.
Merry Christmas everyone. 🙂