My own angst started a day or two before Thanksgiving – dread surrounding the traditional family gathering at my sister-in-law’s house. The anticipation of intolerable noise levels. Well intentioned but annoying small talk. Too much food. Dishes to wash, dry. When, in fact, all I really wanted to do was sit quietly at home, in my sweats, rehashing sacred memories, saying his name out loud, over and over again. AlexAlexAlexAlexAlex. My husband has become a pro at detecting the teetering, and when he began sharing his own demise, all I could do was say, “No, no, I called it first.” I’ve come to prefer it if one of us remains sane during these episodes.
This evening, I received an e-mail from Nancy. As you might imagine, after writing Griefland together, we can finish each others’ sentences and neither of us has to mince words when it comes to talking truthfully about how we’re surviving the minutes, hours and days of this ordeal. There are no rules or protocols. Grief shows up on its own terms. “Help! I’m on the verge of December,” she wrote. Both of us were melting into the earth simultaneously, and suddenly grabbing hold of each other. Tight fisted. Hanging on by finger nails. In the middle of us doing so, I received an SOS text from another resident of Griefland, a beautiful young woman who has lost both her sister and mother, and before I knew it, we were forming some sort of parachute or safety net for whoever needed to free fall with us as these holidays make their entrance.
Admittedly, there is dread etched into every letter of this month, despite the festivities, musical interludes and twinkle lights. If ever there was a time to grab hands and embrace each others’ journey, it’s now. Whether your grief is fresh or ancient (as if it ever gets old), we’d love to hear your voice. How are you managing? What gets you through the holidays? Share your stories here with us. And by all means, say their names out loud.