Christmas Is Christmas Again

Everyone is different, with this grief path. 

That is what we are all told. 

And it's true. 

For example ...

Some may have chosen to call this a "grief journey."

I call it a path. Or a tsunami, when Im feeling very feisty. 

I hate the word journey. It doesn't represent what this is. 

It sounds too clean. Too organized. Too fun. Almost spiritual. 

A journey involves snacks and maps and adventure. 

Grief is a clusterfuck that invades, like war or disease or a deadly storm. 

It moves on in, uninvited, and takes over everything. 

For awhile. 

It took over Christmas for the past 5 years. 

For me. 

Everyone is different, so Christmas may have been stolen from you for longer or shorter,

and in different ways. 


Because Ive been in love with Christmas my whole life, it was impossible for me to pretend my way through it, after losing my husband to sudden death. The first 2 years I ignored the holiday completely, and then I slowly started to add little elements of it back into my life again. Very slowly. This year, not only was I able to sit at the Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree (the site of where my husband proposed marriage to me back in 2005, the Sunday before Christmas), but I was able to enjoy dinner at a restaurant that faced the tree and the ice-skating rink, and there were no triggers. This is the same place, that, just 3 years ago, I went there and literally couldnt move. My emotional breakdown was so strong, it rendered me incapable of physically getting up and walking. I had to sit there for over an hour and just sob my head off. I was hysterical. 

This year? I felt peace. I felt a warmth. I was able to remember that day in December, when he asked me to be his wife, and a feeling of overwhelming love shot through me. Now, a week later, Im at my parents house in Massachusetts, after just packing up my life in NY two days ago, and moving here indefinitely. They have set up a lovely big room in their basement for me - a place of sanctuary where I can write, sleep, and live. And we will go to our friend's house on Christmas Eve, and then spend Christmas Day at my brother's place, and watch my niece and nephew open all their gifts and enjoy one another and all the love that is there. And I will miss my husband dearly - I will always miss him. Everyday. Forever. But love lives on, and he lives on through me, and the stories I share and the love I will forever have for him. 

And time will keep doing what it does - marching on. And I will keep using that time to find ways to heal and to take the love that Don had for me, and spread it around. That is how they stay alive, that is how I can survive, and that is that is why after 5 years, Christmas is finally Christmas again. 

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  • Kelley Lynn
    commented 2016-12-23 20:19:07 -0800
    Marybeth, that was the key for me – not forcing myself to let Christmas in before I was ready. If you can do that, (dowhat you have to for the kids but no more than that), I promise you, there will be a day when you can let it in again and it will be joyous. It takes a LOT of time. Wishing you peace xoxo
  • Marybeth Hotaling
    commented 2016-12-23 16:20:39 -0800
    Kelley; I’m so glad to hear that you can enjoy Christmas again as you once did. At 14 months out I’m trying to ignore Christmas. I’ve loved it all my life and now I can’t face it. I will try for the sake of my children and granddaughter who was born on my husband’s first anniversary this year. You have given me hope that one day I too can again enjoy Christmas as I have in the past, in my before. All the best to you , Marybeth