I love Christmas.
I love everything about it.
The sights and sounds and smells. Spending time with family and friends. Listening to Christmas carols. Wrapping gifts. And the food. The fabulous food I only get to eat this time of the year.
And yet, for as much joy as this holiday brings, it also brings a sleigh full of sadness. I’m reminded of Mom and Dad and Wendy and Brad and so many other loved ones who aren’t here.
While I miss them every day, this time of year is especially tough. You never truly recover from losses this enormous.
My older sister, Wendy, and her husband, Brad, always hosted the Christmas Eve bash. When they died, less than two months apart in 1997, things were never quite the same.
Sure, we get together. Sure, we have a great time. But I don’t think there is one of us who doesn’t ache, who thinks that things are better now than they were then.
Time marches on. I get that. We have to march on, too. But sometimes it’s hard, and I don’t feel like marching. I want to stop and curl up in a ball and cry.
Call me weak; I don’t care. Call me emotional; yep, that’s me. Sometimes, I just need to pout. It feels good — at least for a little while.
And when I’m done pouting, I’m ready to move on — without them again.
I’ve learned to make new family traditions, to embrace the present and let go of the past. It’s not easy. Truth is, it’s incredibly difficult. I’ve had to learn that letting go of the past doesn’t mean not remembering. My memories of times spent together are some of my most precious.
And, usually when my pity party is over, I’m ready to put one foot in front of the other. Forget about marching; I usually run.
I know that some people don’t understand.
They think, “Gee, it’s been years. Get over it.”
And I want to tell them that you never get “over it.” You go on living, doing the best you can, day in and day out, year in and year out. But you never stop wanting your loved ones back, even if you believe they are in a better place.
Call me selfish. I’m fine with that. But if I had my way, they would be here with me. Period.
This holiday season, remember those who are grieving. It’s not easy for them. They’re hurting. And it doesn’t matter if their loss was a month ago or a decade ago, this time of year can find them struggling, caught in an avalanche of sadness.
If you’re grieving, it’s OK. You’re not weird or weak. You’re normal. Don’t beat yourself up. Take care of yourself.
Get plenty of rest and eat right. Talking to someone about your feelings might help. Don’t measure yourself against someone else’s expectations.
Life is too short and you have too much living yet to do.
Buffy Andrews is Assistant Managing Editor of Features and Niche Publications for the York Daily Record/Sunday News. She’s also its Social Media Coordinator.
Grieving around the holidays
Here are upcoming support groups and seminars for those who have lost loved ones.
Church Of The Open Door, 8 Carlisle Court, West Manchester Township, 2 to 4 p.m. Dec. 2. For details, call Bill Workman at 717-747-1698.
Starview United Church of Christ, 4832 N. Sherman St. Ext., Mount Wolf, will offer a Blue Christmas service 7 p.m. Dec. 9. Whether you’ve lost a loved one, or it might be difficult time for any number of reasons, a Blue Christmas service provides the space and time to acknowledge sadness and concern. There will be a service of prayers, scripture reading, music and candle lighting. Everyone is welcome to attend this service. For details, call 717-266-4248.
Shrewsbury Assembly Of God, Mount Zion-Potosi United Methodist Church, 107 Mount Zion Road, Glen Rock, 7 to 9 p.m. Dec. 12. For details, call Pastor Larry Parlett at 717-235-0280.
Aldersgate United Methodist Church, 307 Tyler Run Road, York Township, 7 to 8:30 p.m. Dec. 17. For details, call Judy Sterner, director congregational care, at 717-854-4276.
Christmas Eve For Those Who Grieve New Creation Community Church, 3005 Emig Mill Road, Dover Township, will host a Service of Lights 6 p.m. Dec. 23. The service specifically designed for those for whom Christmas is difficult this year, will feature carols, candle lighting and a compassionate message and reading of the scriptures. Childcare is available. For details, visit the church website at www.newcreation25.net or call the church office at 717-764-0252.
Church Of The Open Door, 8 Carlisle Court, West Manchester Township, 7 to 9 p.m. Thursdays Jan. 24 through April 18. For details, call Charlie Malady at 717-792-4876.
St. Joseph Catholic Church, 2935 Kingston Road, Springettsbury Township, 7 to 9 p.m. Mondays Feb. 18 through May 20. For details, call Sara Raffensberger at 717-755-1482.
Local ongoing support programs include:
GriefShare, your journey from mourning to joy, will meet 6:30 to 8 p.m. Tuesdays at Water’s Edge United Methodist Church, 469 Abels Road, Lower Windsor Township. All are welcome to join anytime. For more details or to register, call 717-246-2428 from noon to 3 p.m. weekdays.
GriefShare, 6:45 to 8:45 p.m. Tuesdays, St. Matthew Evangelical Lutheran Church, 839 W. Market St., York. For details, call 717-845-2721 or email email@example.com.
GriefShare, 7 p.m. Wednesdays, Stillmeadow Church of the Nazarene, 400 Stillmeadow Lane, Manchester Township. 717-764-4888
First Tuesdays Grief Gathering, 6:30 to 8 p.m., first Tuesday of each month, Heartland Hospice, 3417-C Concord Road, Springettsbury Township. 717-840-1002.
Grief Support Group, offered by AseraCare, meets 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. the second and fourth Tuesday of each month at H.O.P.E, located in the New Freedom Community Building, 150 E. Main St., New Freedom. This free group is open to anyone who has experienced the death of a loved one and is seeking support in a caring, non-judgmental setting. For details, call Debra Snyder at 717-845-8599 or 1-888-273-0935.
Sweet Emotions, a support group for those dealing with the loss of a loved one through death or divorce, will meet at 6:30 p.m. the fourth Thursday of most months at Mount Nebo United Methodist Church, 962 Flintville Road, Peach Bottom Township. For more details, call the church office 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Wednesday through Friday at 717-456-5667 or Pastor Dennis at 717-456-9995.
Christian Bereavement Ministry, 7 to 9 p.m., the last Thursday of each month, Mount Wolf Community Church, South Sixth and Maple streets, Mount Wolf. Lois Trayer, 717-266-3863.