When Grief and Joy are present at Christmas
My writing today is inspired by my little three year old boy, Zac, who is going away with his dad for nine (yep count them 9) days over the Christmas period. The name Zac means “Remembering God” or “Remembering Love”. And even though he will be interstate, my beautiful boy is my greatest spiritual teacher and also my greatest gift this Christmas.
As some of you know I am a crusader for all inside of us that is exiled, abandoned, hidden away and overlooked.
With the festive season, arrives ideas of Christmas Joy, Merry Christmas, Christmas Cheer and Peace at Christmas.
Yet for those parts of us that have pain, grief, sadness, fear and loss lurking in the shadows, Christmas may seem more alienating than ever. The beliefs that “Something is wrong with me for feeling this way” or “ “I shouldn’t be feeling like this” can appear ever stronger at this time.
Perhaps at no other point in the year do we more feel the pain of absent family members and close friends who have passed away or are estranged.
And if we are alone, separated/divorced or struggling in relationship, we may feel the unresolved pain of broken dreams and loss of hope about the sort of family life we wished we had.
And emotional injuries in our formative years that have not yet been fully seen, heard and released may get triggered by spending time, as an adult, with family during Christmas.
So for me, as the date for Zac’s departure gets closer, I am already feeling the grief that accompanies letting go and my sadness at not having my beautiful boy by my side during this festive time.
I rejoice at how much more easily I am now able to connect with and embrace these feelings of fear, loss and emptiness without trying so much to make it all ok with one liners to my self such as “It will be good for him.” or “It has to happen sometime.”. While these one liners might contain some truth, they don’t connect with what is really being felt.
When our inner dialogue does not reach the truth of our hurt, we can feel alienated, anxious, stressed, angry and blaming, miserable and helpless, flat, stuck or unable to make decisions.
Yet by connecting with the both the hurts in the heart and our deepest wishes, we can feel a deep sense of peace, even when we are in the midst of crying with grief and loss.
Being gently in contact with our body and breath enables us to accept and welcome the raw truth of our immediate experience even when it hurts.
This keeps us feeling safe, grounded and connected with loving presence. As if we are being held in warm loving arms, hearing and holding the emotions as they arise.
The more we allow ourselves to feel the waves of emotion that we have previously locked away, the more we can begin to trust in our capacity to let them flow through us.
Then the build up of anxiety, stress, depression, anger, fear or grief has an outlet to release. so it dissipates. A little more integration happens within our body, heart and mind and delicate qualities of peace and joy are experienced and realised. We feel more at ease with who and where we are in this moment.
This takes time and practice and having the support of an empathic other can really help to hold the container of loving presence.
This is what I was able to give myself yesterday as I was walking on the beach. Instead of shutting off what I was feeling, I welcomed the pain in my heart with kind words such as “ Oh darling you are really going to miss him aren’t you?”. “You feel really scared about letting him go for such a long time?” Such relief in hearing the truth and feeling the tears flow.
So as my grief was held in loving presence I sensed how much loss there really is in a regular life. And how important, perhaps it is, for our well being, to grieve as we need to. Seemingly small, insignificant losses can mean a lot to the heart.
And being a parent has shown me this over and over. Zac is already three.
This eight days of absence is only the beginning of more and more time apart from each other.
He is no longer a baby (as he likes to remind me often during the day such as when he is climbing on top of the couch “ mummy babies cant do this”).
He no longer says “ ro ro” for apple.
He waves bye bye to me when I drop him off at day care.
I wont be carrying him in the baby carrier ever again.
The more he grows up, the more I need to let go.
To let go means I need to grieve what no longer IS.
And for me to grieve I see how much I need to trust.
To trust in myself, to trust in Zac, to trust in the grieving process. To trust in Life.
To trust in Love
A mothers Love
The Christmas Message.
And there is a peace that comes with that.
A gentle, tender, delicate peace that comes with moving through the painful places life is touching in me.
And I believe when we make room for our pain, hear our pain and release it, we make room for joy. It naturally begins to manifest.
So Christmas this year for me will be as much about grief as it will be about joy. I can feel more tears on the way.. and more delight..
I wonder if any of you feel such duality at this time of year Grief and Joy? Maybe Fear and Trust?
I would love to hear what is arising for you as Christmas approaches.
And if this time of year is triggering some painful parts in you and you would like support,
I will be available between the 22nd Dec to 29th Dec for skype or face time sessions. Or for women in Adelaide I am now available to see you in my home in Henley Beach.
I will also be teaching a Warm Flow Yoga class at Cosmic Yoga Studio on Friday 29th 9,30am.
Much love, peace and joy to you this Christmas