Christmas for those who wish it weren’t

Christmas for those who wish it weren't Elizabeth | Kimberly Hetherington | Art Therapy with Kimberly

Nothing magnifies the feeling of despair, heartbreak and loneliness quite as effectively as this time of year. It’s a bombardment of all things joyful; when loving families re-unite, thoughtful presents are bought and cheery carols fill the air.

Christmas no longer sparks the same joy in me as it once did. To experience the holidays without my sister amplifies her loss. At one point in my life, Christmas used to be my favourite holiday. I vividly remember the feeling of overwhelming joy as a young child when the song Feliz Navidad came on the stereo. Elizabeth and I would dance and skip around the living room while my parents sat back laughing and cheering us on. Even by the time we were in our teens, when Christmas naturally lost a lot of its luster and my sister and I had gone from being best friends to being ready to rip each-others hair out. But on certain mornings, when it was freezing outside and we were running late, my mum would drop us at the bus stop. I remember on one occasion sitting in the back seat, hair still damp from the shower, bundled up in my warmest jacket, and hearing the faint sound of Feliz Navidad playing on the radio. I squealed in excitement, pulled off my gloves and reached for the dial from the back seat to turn it up. I nudged my sister’s shoulder, looking over at her and yelling out, “remember this!” I could see a faint smile break across her face. It was early and she wasn’t an early person. But as she looked out the window I knew she remembered those dance parties in the living room we had when we were kids.

The other day at work a colleague accidentally played the song Feliz Navidad in the office. While everyone laughed I felt myself flooded with a series of favourite childhood memories. I plunged deep into my past, imagining those perfect Christmas’ when we were all together. Someone changed the song and I snapped back to reality. But those memories swirled in my mind. I thought about my parent’s whose hearts continue to gush at the loss of their daughter. As much as I wish I could help them, it feels as if I’m frantically putting bandages on their bleeding heart. But within seconds the bandages are soaked and I finally realise I can’t heal this wound. It will never heal. Time cannot heal this, its now become a matter of learning to move around it, like learning to live without a limb. “Grief is the price you pay for love” and we sure are paying, my parents so much more so than me. But my sister will always be a part of our lives. Her absence will always be felt, for the rest of our lives. This empty space she left behind will never grow over, it will never go away.

I don’t bring this subject up to stir pity. I bring it up for those out of you reading this who also find themselves in anguish or despair at this time of year. I just want those people to know that they aren’t alone in their suffering. This time of year will be hard and there is not sugar coating that. But as much as it feels as though everyone around you is merrily decorating their Christmas trees and drinking eggnog by the fire with loved ones, there are just as many people who are crumbling apart inside and mourning behind closed doors.

Although this message may not take away your sadness, I do hope it can lift a little bit off your shoulders. I hope you find some solace knowing that someone out there is also feeling the exact same way as you. Christmas is just one day. One day out of the whole year, and its really not much different from a random Wednesday in August.

So take a deep breathe, feel the air fill your lungs, and tell yourself you can get through. Be kind to yourself, treat yourself with forgiveness and compassion. You need it now more than ever. Just keep putting one foot in front of the other and remember, this too shall pass. ♥

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