Halloween

Except for a few years early in childhood, I have never liked Halloween.  The combination of darkness and creepiness makes my skin crawl.

And now, this side of child loss it makes me angry. 

Why?  Because for one night (really, for a couple of weeks!) Americans not only think about death, they spend millions of dollars celebrating it.

Not celebrating ACTUAL death-not the absolute horror of being told your child is gone, gone, gone.  Instead it’s a fake, “funny”, silly made-up mockery of a very real, very awful truth.

Sometimes the “celebrations” involve desecrating cemeteries.  And that makes me even angrier.

grieving-mother-at-grave

Graveyards are the final resting place of other people’s loved ones.  My son is there!  You don’t have the right to make his grave part of your truth or dare game.  

So just don’t do it!

What makes me angrier still is that people will talk for weeks about what they want to “be” for Halloween yet shut down the first mention of a bereaved parent’s pain.

Conversation about costumes, haunted houses and scary movies is invited, conversation about burial and broken hearts is taboo.  

Why, why, why do Americans embrace this paper mache version of death yet refuse to acknowledge or embrace the reality of death in daily life?

It’s no game.  It’s no holiday.  It’s nothing to laugh about or make jolly over.

It’s a very real, very painful, very awful part of my life.  

I won’t participate in making light of it.

pair of shoes

Trying to Hold off the Holidays

Here they come round the bend like a pack of dogs chasing that rabbit on a racetrack.

No way to slow them down, no way to step to the side and ward off the relentless message that Thanksgiving and Christmas are coming soon-so, so soon.

Internet ads scream, “You’ve got to buy it NOW!  You’re running out of time!”

Billboards, radio and television ads, and calendars count down the days.

Decorations assault my eyes and ears and nose (thank you pumpkin everything!).  I cannot get away.  There’s no where to hide.

pumpkin spice

So I have decided to take the offensive.  I will do the things that must be done as quickly, as efficiently and as quietly as possible.

I am sending Thanksgiving cards instead of Christmas cards.  I like the fall colors better than traditional yuletide hues anyway.  No one says the yearly update letter has to be postmarked in December.

Our gift-giving is much simpler now than before Dominic ran ahead to Heaven.  I’m less inclined to wrap dozens of presents to pile under the tree and more likely to give cash or gift cards along with a heartfelt note.   So I will get all this together before the weather warrants a fire here in the Deep South.

I’m easily overwhelmed.

And too much of anything just seems like entirely. too. much.

Instead of loads of decorating that involves changing out all the everyday with holiday, I will put out a few bright things and lots of candles.

glowing candles huff post

Flickering light in approaching darkness speaks hope to my heart.

I will concentrate on people, not on things.  I am making space on the calendar for casual conversation instead of constant motion.

I won’t be swept along by the yuletide current, struggling for air, barely making it to January and glad the holidays are over.

Sip and savor.

That’s my motto.

I’m sticking to it.

coffee cup fall leaves

Spoon Theory Applied to Bereavement

I thought I would follow up yesterday’s post with another one to help folks recognize when they NEED to rest.

I don’t know about you but I have a hard time figuring that out sometimes.

One approach that has helped me is something called “Spoon Theory”.

Spoon Theory was first described (as far as I know) by Christine Miserandino of butyoudontlooksick.com.

The original article pertains to chronic illness.  But when I stumbled across it a couple years ago it really clicked with me.

The basic idea is that everyone starts with a finite number of “spoons” representing the energy, attention and stamina that can be accessed for any given day. When you do something, you remove a spoon (or two or three) based on the effort required.  When you have used up all your spoons, you are operating at a deficit. 

Like a budget, you can only do that so long before you are in big trouble.

The only change I would make is to say that in the first months and years, most bereaved parents have far fewer than 12 spoons. 

Grief uses at least half of them by itself.

But it’s helpful for me to recognize that I do not have an infinite supply of energy and stamina regardless of what I think has to be done or how many more hours there are in a day.  I’ve written about that in this earlier post:   Emotional Bankruptcy: I Can’t Spend the Same Energy Twice

And I think it’s a great graphic to show to family and friends so they can understand why we simply CAN’T do everything we used to do.

spoon theory