New Year’s Day, 2018

Happy New Year!

… Right?

A reflection on common holiday phrases

I have seen some other loss mamas posting on Facebook about how they don’t like the phrase “Happy New Year”. I can fully understand that, since it sounds like the person is saying the year is happy. For me, though, they are wishing me a happy new year. In other words, they are saying “I hope this new year is happy for you”. I can get behind that. I hope it’s happy too. But even this interpretation still lacks something for me, and perhaps others who are grieving too: Because we know we won’t be happy, at least not all the time. And I know no-one is happy all the time, but when you’re grieving, there are often more moments and more intense times of seriously not happy. And we know with certainty that we will experience those not-happy times.

I’m not saying to stop wishing me a happy new year (or, for that matter, a merry Christmas). I really want it to be happy, and I appreciate that you want it for me too. Just be aware that I may not be able to have a happy holiday. I may not enjoy it, or at least not all of it. In fact, parts of it may trigger being sad. And I can’t view the phrase with quite the same innocent confidence as I used to.

My Christmas was largely a good one. I was not particularly Merry™, but I tried to stay reasonably cheerful and interested in what was going on. For the most part, I succeeded, and enjoyed being around family, opening presents, listening to Christmas music, and actually having 4 whole days with hubby while he was off work. I did not, however, enjoy every minute. In fact, I was caught by surprise in the Christmas Eve church service (despite knowing that it might be difficult to get through), by a sudden rush of rage and grief, that Mary got to hold her baby alive. I know, I know, he later dies. But I lost my son before birth, and never got to see his eyes open or hear his voice. And listening to a sermon and many songs all about a family where the baby did fine, well… I was not fine.

And my new years, you ask? It was ok. It was actually pretty pleasant, if low key. And actually, I think keeping it low key helped me stay on an even keel. Honestly, the only thing we did differently than a normal evening when hubby is home and not working, was that we added sparkling grape juice to our evening. It also helps that growing up, this was not a big holiday for me; the holiday has nothing to do with babies (as long as you don’t look at old year/new year cartoons); and that I have no special events associated with the holiday, either that I would want Charlie here for, or that have to do with Charlie’s pregnancy.

All this to say, be gentle with those grieving around the holiday. We see the world, the holiday, the phrases and greetings, through different eyes.

Love to all,

Sarah

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