This is a really important post for me as it is something that I am deeply passionate about. Today is December first and it is a very special friend’s birthday. It is also the day that she lost her third child, a brand new baby. Max should be spending his Christmases with all our children but he never has.
Over the years I have had three close friends who have lost a parent in December and this Christmas will be only the second Christmas that another friend and her three teenage sons will spend without their husband and father since his suicide eighteen months ago.
My Chronic Illness community are struggling right now with worries about energy levels, letting people down, not having enough of their meagre funds to do anything special with and worrying about whether they will be well enough to join in on just about anything.
This time of year there is so much to celebrate, so much happening. But for a great deal of people this season is at best tinged with sadness or at worst crushingly painful. And I suspect that this is the case for many more people than we realize because our pages and feeds on social media are all about the happiness, the decorating, the food, the laughter, the traditions and the merriness of it all. But just among my own circles alone I know and can point out the myriad of painful stories that are also happening underneath.
When I reach out to each of these people one by one and ask them how they are really coping and tell them that I remember them and their pain and everything else that this season brings, almost every single time they break down and hug me and thank me for allowing them to feel a wee bit of what they are actually going through. It doesn’t take a lot to scratch the surface, I barely have to to rub the gold and it crumbles in my hands, exposing the pain, the distress, the fears, the anguish. And they are so deeply deeply thankful for my insight and my love.
But I have been doing this for them as long as I can remember. I am not immune to the hurting of this season myself. This year my husband and I will be spending Christmas alone. Neither of our sets of parents or extended families have included us in their celebrations for decades and our children just happen to all be spending this Christmas Season away doing all kinds of wonderful things. But even more than that my health means that I no longer have it in me to set up decorations and I need a ton of help just to do the basics of a Christmas dinner.
But this post isn’t about me. Yes I hurt and yes it is hard, but I survive it because I am open and congruent and I don’t try to be or feel anything that I don’t. More than ever this time should be all about transparency and self care, remembering to pace ourselves and to express our needs. To live within our budgets not just of money but of emotion and time and energy and love.
Being in pain whether it is physical, emotional, spiritual or relational is exhausting and frightening. It also leaves us extremely vulnerable. So if this is you this year, then please please please care for yourselves on every level, and if this is someone you know or love, even if you don’t know them well at all … don’t be afraid to scratch that surface and give them a little extra love! There are a lot of us out there who desperately need it!
Today I am starting a campaign on social media: #SurvivingDecember @JPeaSmith. Please get on board and help those around you to survive their December this year!