As a preface; The intention of this post is not to take away from the many holiday joys or for people to feel as if I do not still have joy. My purpose is to remind people that:
- You can feel many emotions at many times – sometimes even at the same time.
- I feel this is a topic that is not often discussed, especially for fear of raining on the holiday cheer.
But remember, we all have our own stories and our own experiences that result in many feelings and thoughts. I want people to read and understand that you are not alone.
As I sit down to write this, I feel my eyes welling up, chest getting heavy, and breathing slowing becoming a nearly impossible task
This is for anyone who has lost a loved one – or even an acquaintance – around the holidays – or any time at all. These next few weeks can be some of the hardest of the year. Whether you lost them 10 years ago, 1 year ago, or 1 week ago – they’re tough. The holidays are about being jolly and cheerful and surrounded by those who mean the most to you.
But what about those who mean the most that aren’t there? Those that aren’t a call or text away? What do you do about those people? You can’t hug them and you can’t hear their infectious laugh or honest advice. But, there are many things you can do: You can pray, write, find old photographs or videos, reach out to those who are available and close to you for a listening ear or helping hand. Nothing you or anyone else does will be able to take away the excruciating pain, but some of these things may help- even if it’s just a little bit. Remembering the silly, stupid things they did or the oh so thoughtful ones.
There will be days these next few weeks that getting out of bed may seem damn near impossible. There will be days it will feel like your chest is caving in. There will also be days that you wake up with a smile, simply because your loved one knows your pain and want to alleviate it- even if it is just for a second. There will also be days that, for a moment (or 10), will forget. Forget that they ever left and feel like life is “normal” again. Then you will remember that they are not here and you will feel guilty for forgetting them at all.
Many of us punish ourselves because we have this idea in our head of how we are “supposed” to feel rather than just feeling. Feeling happy? “Well that’s not okay, you need to be grieving like everyone else.” Feeling extra down? “Well that’s not okay, you are being dramatic and it is time to move on.” No feeling is ever “right” or “wrong” – there is no rule book and no one knows the answers.
There will always be critics and naysayers. These people who will be sure to let you know that whatever it is you’re doing, it’s wrong. “Other people have it worse” – “Look on the bright side” – “You should be thankful for what you do have.” Yes, these may be true, but that doesn’t dismiss or acknowledge what you are feeling. Sometimes it hurts and it hurts a lot. Physically, emotionally, socially- in just about every way possible.
For me, this holiday season is extra hard. Christmas Day was the last day I saw, hugged, played games, talked with, and loved on you, Gavin. Five days later you went missing. Four days after that, you were found. Gavin Wesley Bush took his life on January 1, 2017. This will be a day that will always have that extra weight and sting a little more than others. He was in that deep, dark hole that some of us may have unfortunately experienced. He no longer saw the light and the only way he felt he could was by ending it all.
I am not mad at you, Gavin Wesley. I do not think you are selfish. I do think, however, that you were so far below the surface that there was nothing any of us could do to help. Yes, we could have said “I love you” that one time we forgot. Yes, we could have listened a little more when you wanted to talk. But there is no way any of us could have known – especially the depth of your illness.
There will always be “what if’s” and “why’s?” Unfortunately, we will never know these answers. Sadly, we will never get to give you that last “I love you” or famous Gavin hug. What we can do, is lean on each other. Lean on those going through the same thing and those who aren’t. That is why they are your friends, to be there through thick and thin; good and bad.
To those who might not understand, you’re right. There’s nothing you can do or say to alleviate the pain. But you can be there. You can bring up the beautiful memories you have of Gavin – or whoever your person is. You can tell me you love me and that you will never stop loving me. You can tell me that things might not be okay, because our world is changed forever, but that you will never leave my side.
Whatever you are feeling, remember that only God knows you and your story. That is one thing you can have comfort in – knowing that they are with them looking down on you every single day. Don’t believe in God? Well whoever you do believe in, know they still care and your loved one is in safe hands.
So, again, this is for anyone who has lost someone. Throughout these next few weeks (or anytime, really), find a person you can go to. Don’t have anyone? I promise you, I am always here. I listen and I love. I can give advice or I can sit in silence. But no matter what, know you’re not alone. You’re not crazy. You’re not dramatic. You are stitched together perfectly to be the very person you are supposed to be and we are in this together. <3
*Side note: I did not write in order to receive pity or cause worry. I wrote it so I can hopefully help someone know they’re not alone and to speak up about a topic that I feel often has shame surrounding it. <3