To my friend who would rather not do Christmas this holiday season,

I want you to know I see you.

I may not know what it’s like to walk in your shoes. I can’t understand the grief you are feeling right now. But my heart hurts for you. 

Are the lights, the sounds and the smells all painful reminders of what is missing? Do they take you to place in your mind where you wish you could go? Instead of seeing what is before you, do you see what is no longer? 

To my friend who has lost her spouse. To my friend whose marriage is crumbling. To my friend who is now divorced. To my friend whose children are all grown and gone from the home. To my friend who is spending this Christmas in the hospital, at the bedside of a loved one. To my friend who has lost her mother. Her father. Her sister. Her brother. Her child. 

I am sorry for the pain you are feeling this holiday season. 

I know I cannot take that pain away, but I would at least like to acknowledge it. 

I believe it’s okay if you don’t feel like doing Christmas this year.

It’s okay if instead of wanting to drive around and look at lights or bake cookies or attend a Christmas party – you would rather be alone.

It’s okay if unwrapping an ornament brings you to your knees and fills your eyes with tears. It’s okay if it all feels like too much. 

It’s okay if you are ready for it all to be over. 

It’s okay if you are merely going through the motions.

Maybe you have children and you want to give them the feeling and joy of Christmas, but at the end of the day after they are tucked in bed – you look around and are overwhelmed with grief. You are left to cry. Wondering when the feeling of “normal” will return. 

I would imagine it probably comes and goes like tidal waves. Rushing in and out and back again. Moments of joy and then moments of sadness. 

I have not walked in your shoes, but I hope you know it’s okay to have both.

Feeling joyful isn’t a betrayal of what you have lost. And feeling sadness, I believe, is at times inevitable. 

I see you, my friend. 

I am sorry for your loss. I am sorry for what you have gone through. 

You may feel alone, but you are not alone. 

Friends, family, neighbors – we want to be there for you. We want you to know we love you. We want you to know we care. 

While this is the best time of the year for some, for others – it is hard. Very. Very. Hard. 

To my friend who would rather not do Christmas this holiday season, I know this is hard for you.

I want you to know I see you. 

I know I can’t take away your pain. I know I can’t make it better.

But I at least want you to know I am sorry. 

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25 thoughts on “To My Friend Who Would Rather Not Do Christmas This Holiday Season”

  1. This is so on point! Most people don’t understand why I am not happy for the holiday season. You see, my oldest son was killed in a car accident on 11/10/15. Therefore, the holidays are the hardest times of the year outside his birthday for me to endure through. This blog post is PERFECT! Thank you for writing it.

    1. I am so sorry. There’s nothing more horrible than a mum having to bury her child. I absolutely understand it is hard for you. Hugs to a fellow human.

    2. Brenton’s Mom, I am so sorry for your loss. I can’t imagine anything more devastating than to lose a child. Never let anyone tell you that it’s time to move on or that you should be over it already. Grief is messy, it’s ugly and it leaves marks that never go away. My dear friend Lisa lost her son, Conner, in a car wreck on black Friday, 3 years ago. She wrote a book called “Guided by Grief”. Like this blog, it’s very well written, so touching and just a good read. It’s very helpful not only to those who have lost but, to those who want to help and be supportive but, aren’t sure how. It helped me to better understand and it helped prepare me for the next tragic loss in a friend’s life.
      My friend’s 22 year old daughter was gunned down right outside her front door and she was left to raise her then 2 year old (now almost 4) granddaughter. One day she called me hysterical because she had gotten her daughters autopsy report in the mail, quite unexpectedly. She was sobbing, trying to read it through the tears and trying to make sense of it, counting bullet holes. I never in a million years would have thought that I would be equipped to deal with that situation. But, thanks in part to Lisa’s book, Carolyn Wonderland (our favorite musician) having a gig at the right venue that night and the coincidence of a police officer living in my guest house (he could explain the M.E.’s report) we found a way through. Here is a link to where you can get the book:
      God bless.
      https://www.amazon.com/Guided-Grief-Mother-Repurpose-Life/dp/0692068589

    3. I’m so sorry, my son was killed by an impaired driver on 11/22/14 along with the fact that I lost my mother that morning. I feel your pain, and I know it’s not much but your not alone. All we want is normal again which we know we will never see in our lifetime. God bless you and all your days to come.

  2. I was the friend for almost 5 years. I suffer from PTSD. I affects me in many different ways. When my Support dog died. He also had a history of Violent Abuse, resulting in issues. We bonded in the first glance.
    I fell into a deep depression. Nothing could help me. Holidays I would hand his collar on the tree. If I put up a tree. I have other pets. But I was no longer in me. Christmas meant nothing. My Husband tried, My Grand Daughter tried. This is the first year I can feel something. No one could help. Another Dog could not help. Depression, and Stress is the Devil.

  3. Thank you for writing and sharing “To My Friend…Season”. I became a bereaved parent on 12/3/16. Christmas 2016 was a painful blur, and yes, I tried to make it JOYFUL for my then 8yo. The grief journey is different for everyone, and this blog speaks love, compassion and understanding. I have shared your blog on my personal FB page and pray that it will soften and comfort hearts. Merry Christmas to you and yours. -Elsa

    1. How heartbreaking. My heart absolutely bleeds for parents who’ve had to say goodbye to a child. I am so sorry for you. 😔

  4. I have no joy for much of anything right now. Turning 70 soon, dealing with unexpected physical challenges, miss my mom who passed on Thanksgiving Day 2013 but it’s still an emotional day for me as an only child. Getting older life changes, circumstances change and it’s learning to navigate an unknown path with no road map.

    1. Hi Gayle, may I ask where you live? Do you have any children of your own? You can add me on facebook if you have one or email me if you ever want someone to talk to.

    1. Rick, I am so sorry for your loss. Suicide is such a fragile subject. I have felt the pain firsthand. Please feel free to reach out to me. I could use a friend as well.
      Lena

  5. I feel like your blog is speaking directly to me, this Christmas just needs to be over I lost my beautiful daughter (my only child) on 7/30/2016 , I lost my grandson, her 5 week old baby, on 9/03/2016. The holidays are extremely difficult but I must push forward for her older son , who was 7 at the time. Her being my only child , I personally find Mother’s Day the worst. Thank you for sharing.

    1. Anita, I am so sorry for your loss and I can not fathom your pain. I lived with my Mom for the last 5 years of her life and we were incredibly close. Her death left a huge hole in my life. The first year following her death was just a long list of sucky firsts without her. The holidays were hard but, I agree with you about Mother’s day being the worst. I don’t have kids. I will never be a Mom and now I’ve lost mine. Every Hallmark commercial on TV made me cry. I didn’t know what to do so, I was going to just sleep through the day. But, a friend came up with a better idea. I put together some gift baskets and took them down to the local homeless shelter so that the kiddos there would have something to give their Moms. The experience totally turned the day around for me. I took my Polaroid camera and shot 3 packs of film, letting them keep the pictures. They all appreciated it so much and I really felt Mom smiling down on me. The following year, I solicited help from a few friends and we visited two shelters with twice as many families. There’s nothing like helping others less fortunate for taking your mind off your own troubles.
      Nobody will ever love us like our Moms. May God bless you and ease your pain.

  6. I too suffer from this debilitating illness..One that is etched in my memory forever..
    Christmas will never be the same for me..I hate everything about it..I can never recover..
    On December 5,2010, I lost my boyfriend of 21 years..He was shot and murdered as he laid in his bed, while on oxygen..The case was never solved..He was a Veteran, the police dismissed and had no interest in solving the case, all because his VA medication was in his top drawer..They believed it was drug related..There will never be a resolution nor a cure! Completely miserable 😭

  7. Thank you for sharing this. I think it’s hard for people to understand that we can be going through the motions just fine, but inside, we’re dying. And sometimes we don’t allow ourselves to grieve because we feel our situation isn’t as bad as others. My sons both live on the opposite side of the country and struggle with mental health and drug issues. Only one of them speaks to us, but he is homeless and doesn’t function well within the rest of the family. Christmas just sucks. But thank you, too, for the much needed reminder that feeling joy is not a betrayal of what you have lost. A reminder to live in the moment, in what is good. May you have a beautiful holiday season.

  8. Thank you. I lost my partner Shelly unexpectedly in February. She caught sepsis. She was only 47. We had her funeral on Valentine’s Day.

    I spent 9 years staying in hers between Christmas Eve and Boxing Day. This year I’m sitting alone with my memories.

    I can’t help but be overcome by tides of grief from time to time and I would give anything to hold her again.

    1. John, I’m so sorry for your Loss. I’m at a lot loss this this year, so I started reading articles about people with loss this holiday season. My best guy friend was killed in September by a drunk driver on his motorcycle. This has been horribly devistating to me. I’m going thru a divorce after 21 years & I was sick for 3 years before I was well again. He was my sanity & lifeline. I’m so sad & angry. If you need a friend I’m available. I start school again January 13th then I’m cut off. Lol. Hope you caught a smile.
      Rochelle

  9. For the first 26 years of my life, Christmas was the best day ever! But since my father died, in 1993, I never wanted to do Christmas. The first Christmas that he wasn’t w us, I have to gather all the strength I have just to celebrate Christmas, for my mom’s sake. The only thing that made me through it was the thought that it wasn’t about me, it was about Jesus. I was just a guest to His birthday. And that was it for me every year. I got married in 1995. It was a good thing that my husband didn’t do Christmas as well. He never explained why. But I’m glad it was like that for us. He was just not big on celebrations or decorations for that matter. We were also not into giving of gifts, Christmas gifts in particular. Christmas for us meant family reunions. Please don’t get us wrong. We are believers of Christ. And we don’t hate Christmas. When our son came, he wanted the decors, etc of Christmas. We didn’t encourage it. And we never gave him a Christmas gift. His gifts came from friends, relatives, godparents. Going to church on Christmas day was the only big thing for us as a family. I liked it this way because as I’ve said, Christmas isn’t about us.
    Now that husband is gone, all the more I don’t want to do Christmas. It has actually became the saddest day of the year for me. While other families become complete during Christmas, it only reminds me that mine will never ever be.

  10. My baby boy took his own life aged 25. It’s 7 years now but hurts so bad.
    Christmas always stirs it up. Lost my shit over dinner when I raised a glass to Tom. 😭
    But I have 3 other younger kids who still want Xmas so have to do it for them.
    Time heals what reason cannot.
    X

  11. Thank you for this. I’ve never heard this said before and I wish someone had said it to me a couple years ago. I will be sure to share this with those who need it.

  12. Christmas used to be my most loved Holiday. But 10 years ago just a few days before Christmas December 19 my mother in law passed due to cancer which she battled for many years. She was buried December 22.Then 4 years ago my husband who is a truck driver was hit head on by a person who committed suicide as to not go to jail. These 2 factors weigh heavy on my heart and my husband’s heart and Christmas has become a holiday we would like to just skip but we have a 16 year old daughter who loves Christmas. So just a have hard time from November to January every year since.

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