Season’s Greetings! I want to write a message filled with joy, wonder and the happiest sentiments of the holiday season. But it won’t be as jolly as that because I’m actively grieving the loss of my mom and OG bestie, Della Lee. Since she was released from her failing body and mind, I’ve been experiencing grief on a scale I didn’t know was possible.
You may know that I’m more of a “thinker” than a “feeler,” and my practical, no-nonsense self is frustrated by the waves of sadness that ambush me as they come out of nowhere. Like while we celebrated Thanksgiving dinner, or when I was treated to a Snapchat video memory where my mom said, “I love you, too,” or as I helped my dad plug in Mom’s Christmas pig, or while continuing our family tradition of attending the Christmas Symphony this past Sunday. It’s hard to explain to others who haven’t yet had a “big loss” how the “bubble” of grief wells up in my chest and comes out as uncontrolled tears at the realization that my mom is really, really gone in the form that I have always known her.
I realize that I’m not the first person to lose a loved one, and my loss is of someone who lived a full, long life and reached the point of decline. Her passing was something I could expect and prepare for. Others have experienced loss that seems much more painful than mine like loss that was unexpected or unexplained, loss of young loved ones, loss due to violence or hate. No matter the circumstances, though, we’re all united, eventually, in our shared grief experience.
And, as it turns out, grief is just a final expression of love. Author Jamie Anderson said it best, “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.”
For those of us with disrupted or displaced love due to grief, this holiday season may be an opportunity to pour our love more intentionally into the living people around us. Whether those who share our grief, or other family members, friends, work colleagues, or those in our communities who need support or assistance, there are so many others with whom we can share our light, love, and blessings. Four ways we might “reinvest” our displaced love include:
- Donating time or money to a worthy cause in our loved one’s name
- Sharing a recipe, memory, or wisdom from our loved one with others
- Giving away our loved one’s possessions to others who will benefit
- Spending time with others who are missing our loved one (or their loved one), too, remembering and looking forward to what’s ahead
For those of us who share a great love lost, let’s look for new people in whom we can invest our over-abundance of love. And for those who haven’t yet experienced a great love lost, please give others, like me, the space we need to manage our waves and bubbles of grief and the patience to slowly redistribute our love.
Because this holiday season, and in all of life, it’s all about love.