I have so much to tell you
I have so much to tell you but you are not here to hear it.
One of the challenges in grief are these “Oh wait” moments. Have you ever been here?
(In the middle of dialing a phone number)…oh wait...
I should tell Mom this!... Oh wait… I can’t…
Wow, my Dad would love to hear this story!… Oh wait…I can’t tell him
What do we do with all our words that have nowhere to go?
Though these moments happen often in grief, the traditions surrounding the holidays can bring up these times more frequently. What do we do? Our loved one left a giant hole that no one will ever fill. We are used to being able to call, text, speak with them. We have so much love, but what to we do with it? I love this quote from Jamie Anderson about grief as it summarizes this feeling perfectly.
“Grief, I’ve learned, is really just love. It’s all the love you want to give, but cannot. All that unspent love gathers up in the corners of your eyes, the lump in your throat, and in that hollow part of your chest. Grief is just love with no place to go” ~ Jamie Anderson
Love with no place to go.
I have personally experienced this first hand as well as walked with grieving families through these feelings. So much love and yet no where for it to go. Sometimes, it can help to have a special place to put this love; your feelings, messages, and thoughts. Though this activity does not change the fact that NOTHING will ever be the same as talking directly to our loved one, having them in front of us, or feeling their embrace- it can help diffuse some of the energy that builds up with nowhere to go.
Christmas is that holiday for me. It is this time of year that reminds me the most that my loved one isn't here. If this is your first Christmas without your loved one, it is normal to not feel the "holiday magic" as strong this year. Children and adults alike share the same feeling of having things to say with no where for these messages to go. If you have young children, it can also be helpful to create a place for them to talk to their loved one. Doing this it as a family helps to normalize these feelings.
One idea is to use plastic ornaments. These special ornaments can be opened and closed providing a place to put a little paper messaged inside. You can add more notes through the years. Each family member can have their own, with the promise that no one will read them, unless the child would like to share what they wrote or drew. There can be a little station in your home with pre-cut paper and markers to write or draw a message to your loved one. Have time on Christmas where each people can say something to their loved one. This is a tangible way that one can create a space to place some of the love that has no where to go.
Doing something like this has been a healing activity and has helped me, as well as other family members, cope better with the holidays. Creating something simple this this during the holidays, but also throughout the year, can tangibly provide a place for all this love that "has no where to go."
Here are some other ideas:
Still hang their stocking up- place messages or letters inside.
Special box-place it where every family member knows where it is and can leave their messages.
Come up with a place in the house by a photo of your loved one to place messages inside an envelope.