10 In Family/ LIFE/ Vent Sesh

When Family No Longer Looks Like It Once Did

When family looks different than you thought it would -- one woman's journey #holiday #grief

Christmas lights are going up.

People are buying holiday gifts.

There’s a million articles about decorating a Thanksgiving or Christmas table.

And, everywhere you turn it’s all about the holidays.

But, your heart hurts.

You don’t want it to feel that way, and there’s even some guilt that it does.

But it does.

And, I get it.

While holidays are a beautiful time of celebration, love, reflection, gratitude and family, it’s also a reminder for many that family no longer looks the way it once did.

Maybe you lost your mother or father this year.

Perhaps your sister can’t afford to travel in this year.

Or maybe there was a huge family blow-up and half the family is no longer talking.

There’s a million scenarios that can make it difficult to look forward to the holidays.

I know it does for me.

I want to love all of the holidays. I really want to love them for my kids.

But my family at the holidays doesn’t look like what it once did, even just from a few years ago.

It started with my dad.

He died three years ago this December. His birthday is also in December. It’s a rough month.

He’s not there for me to yell at him to not eat the entire cheese platter, or see his grand kids grow up. Man, he’d love who they are becoming.

My gram, who passed away in May, isn’t there with one of her famous dishes. She has many.

I know I should be grateful for who is at the table.

Because I’m so lucky and grateful my mom lives close by and can be at all of the celebrations.

My other gram also lives close and so much fun.

And, we thankfully have Adam’s mom and dad, and one of his grandparents, too.

I know it’s more than many have; that’s not lost on me.

But when your heart hurts, it hurts.

And the holidays are a reminder of what I can ignore during the day to day.

Unless you live with someone it’s often easy to go about your day and push out those feelings, pretending things out of your head to ease the pain.

But holidays bring it all back into focus.

When I shared on Instagram about missing my dad in a major way on some random Tuesday, so many of you replied that you’re in a similar place.

On any random day.

The emotions often come when you least expect it.

So I’m sharing today’s post — not for pity — but to remind you that even amidst the joy, I get and feel your pain this holiday season.

I’m here with you. You are not alone, even on days when it feels like you are.

And if you sympathize but aren’t in the same place, I promise you that you have a friend or loved one who does.

Thank you for reading this to try to appreciate this place of emotion.

Be kind to them, and to strangers around you.

We never know what someone is going through.

Let someone go ahead in traffic, hold the door open, pay it forward with coffee, understand there could be something deeper if someone is curt with you, and be extra kind and patient.

Find a way to bring light to your holiday season, and others.

And, equally don’t feel you need to hide your hurt. Cry, be angry, lay in bed and watch a movie.

Your holiday table might not look the way it once did — or the way you envision — but it doesn’t mean you can’t change that vision.

I saw a friend on Facebook post, “Do we have any friends with no Thanksgiving plans? We are doing it up for our first Thanksgiving in our new home… but it feels wasteful only for our family.”

I don’t know her well enough to know where her family is from, who they have with them or any pain she’s holding, so I don’t know what her vision five years ago looked like.

But it’s clear she is creating a new vision for what her Thanksgiving table will look like this year, and for many years to come.

Our visions often do not meet up with reality.

But maybe, just maybe, one day — if you put yourself out there with an open heart and re-envision what the holidays could be — you can learn to look forward to them again.

When family no longer looks like what it once did -- one woman's grief and how you can learn to embrace the holidays again #grief #managingloss

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  • Reply
    November 19, 2018 at 11:55 AM

    Love this post. It’s something people don’t think about if it doesn’t affect them. I started to kind of hate holidays after my parents got divorced, and people who hadn’t experienced that situation didn’t get it. Being kind because we don’t know what someone is dealing with is a good message every day, but especially important at the holidays. Sending love and light to you and your family!


    • Reply
      November 27, 2018 at 5:31 PM

      Absolutely… we base our reactions on our perspective and history! Such a good point. Sending you lots of love this season. <3

  • Reply
    November 19, 2018 at 8:07 AM

    Such a great post. In the span of 2 years, I lost my grandma, Godmother and mother. The holidays have not been the same since. This is almost 7 years ago now. The pain changes but it is still there. Like you, there are times where it is more acute. A few months ago, an old song came on the radio,, one that I used to dance to with my mom. I had to pull over and just sob. Grief is a funny thing. Happy Holidays to you and your family.

    • Reply
      November 19, 2018 at 11:27 AM

      I’m so sorry to hear Sharon, and please know I understand your grief and there are so, so many more women and men who do as well. I have totally had that song situation too when a specific oldies song my dad would play for us comes on! Hope you are finding new ways to appreciate the holidays. <3 Sending you happy holiday wishes.

  • Reply
    Kimberly Smith
    November 19, 2018 at 7:51 AM

    It felt like you wrote this just for me. My family has been torn apart the last two years and holidays as we remember them will never be the same. We were going to be on our own for Thanksgiving and the thought of that was depressing me, so we decided to go into the city & serve a meal to the needy. I think you kind of have to create “a new normal” and create new traditions for where you are at. And I completely agree about being extra patient & kind with others this time of year – we never know what is going on behind closed doors & a little compassion goes such a long way.

    • Reply
      November 19, 2018 at 11:28 AM

      Oh Kim, I absolutely love the way you are finding a new normal — that’s so true. I know your struggles… we are thankfully both incredibly lucky to have the best brothers. Wish we could just see them more. Hope you and your family have a beautiful Thanksgiving; I love what you’re doing. <3

  • Reply
    November 19, 2018 at 7:26 AM

    This was brilliantly said Allison. With all of the craziness of this season, you made me realize all of those no longer at our table and how sad it is..I am so lucky to have my family close by including my 96 yeAr old mom.
    We went to the mall yesterday for the first time in a while and she was so happy shopping and buying gifts!! She usually pushes back and chooses not to go..
    Seth is in Seattle and won’t be coming this year.. He will be dearly missed….
    Thanks for posting and waking us all up to this reality…Have a wonderful Thanksgiving and Hannukah…

    • Reply
      November 19, 2018 at 11:29 AM

      So wonderful you could have that time with your mom, and hope you can Facetime or something similar with Seth on Thanksgiving! Even amidst the sadness, there are new ways we can find joy again. <3

  • Reply
    November 19, 2018 at 6:55 AM

    I love this blog today. It is so true with myself. At the holidays I always think of the ones that are not around and think about all the good times that we had. The cooking, baking and enjoying time together. The different things that they loved. We should all be Thankful for a lot at our Thanksgiving gather.

    • Reply
      November 19, 2018 at 11:31 AM

      Absolutely — I am incredibly thankful for the memories I get to hold dear as well. I love your perspective, Dianne! Wishing you a happy Thanksgiving!

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