Posted in Grief

The Bitter & Sweet taste of December

The most sentimental month of the year is upon us…. December….

December sneaks up quickly every single year. Most people tend to shake their heads in disbelief that the year is nearly over. As you consider the other eleven months of the year it is December that succeeds at building anticipation into the lives of people. The anticipation begins in the shopping malls. Christmas decorations create an atmosphere of joyful celebration. Individuals visiting shopping malls may be battling all sorts of issues in their lives or their families yet the Christmas spirit provides a tiny distraction from the reality facing them.

Boxes marked ‘Christmas deco’s’ are pulled out of storage cupboards. These boxes are filled with Christmas treasures collected over the year’s. Some of the decorations may hold special meaning especially the ones handed down by someone in the family or the ones handmade at school by young children. The inside and outside of homes are decorated and tell a Christmas story unique to each family.

Over the years life changes and life happens. These changes can affect our families and lives drastically representing various joys, challenges and events. Depending on the types of challenges and events we each face determines the various emotions we have to deal with.

The intense and difficult events we face, the ones that take the wind out of our sails can leave us hesitant at facing the month of December.

December represents family, celebration, giving, sharing, holidays, laughing and fun. It also represents the end of the year. Most people begin considering what the next year will look like while others go a step further and make plans.

If you have been blessed to have had a relatively pain free year then Christmas is always a great way of winding it up. A good year lays the foundation for excitement to build in the home. Family members begin thinking about which gifts to buy each other. Christmas presents are stashed in secret places to keep them hidden. The smells of Christmas cookies or cakes send out signals from kitchen windows signifying the arrival of this special anticipated day.

I’ve had some difficult Christmas’s in times past in which the lack of money made it difficult to relax. Or the crazy Christmas house move that invaded all of the typical traditions that would have normally taken place, leaving everyone feeling as though Christmas didn’t really happen. Those types of Christmas’s although challenging were lived through as one family unit, a family of seven.

We all hear about families that break down. Sometimes we hear about it and gasp in shock at the news.

The shock and surprise is even worse when it is your own family that has broken apart. This is the reality of my year.  My recent blogs share about this journey filled with more downs than ups.

Christmas time marks five months of being a single mum to a 9 year old. All four of my other children are adults and live in Queensland. This Christmas I will be celebrating with my parents and sisters including their families. We won’t be alone. Knowing that I won’t be celebrating with my adult children is daunting. Just the thought alone has sort of been put to the side for the moment as I don’t want to feel the hurt of that too early.

On a normal Christmas month I would have already put up all of the decorations in the house and around the house. In fact that always happened on the 1st of December. I was never one to have had the presents purchased early. This would normally happen about a week before Christmas. I would spend hours with my husband shopping for all of the kids. We would stop for coffee on regular intervals just to keep our energies up as we navigated the shopping crowds. It was fun in a crazy way. I would also purchase all the ingredients to cook up a Finnish feast for our large family to enjoy!

Given the massive changes this year my Christmas is very different. No crazy decorations around my small two bedroom unit, just a small tree. No crazy Christmas shopping for all of the kids. Just a little shopping for my 9 year old as my peanut budget restricts me. For my adult children it will be equally hard and difficult as they spend Christmas without their mum and young brother. That thought alone breaks my heart in two.

As others plan and consider the New Year I can’t even fathom the year ahead. I’m still dealing with loss and hurt. While the pain has lessened it hasn’t disappeared. Some days I just hurt. It is no easy task to have had your identity as a mum of a large family switched to a mum of one 9 year old. My identity has changed and my responsibilities. I’m also my son’s only provider financially and emotionally. He is the one I am focusing on for the time being.

When you are in the middle of heart break the anticipation of Christmas becomes diluted. It is diluted in pain and hurt. My story is one of many. Many families experience breakdowns, tragedies and loss.

If you are one of the many who happen to be experiencing heart breaking events leading up to Christmas I only hope that my blog has a way of letting you know that you are not the only one. You are not alone. Others too are facing a Christmas not quite the same as previous ones. And that’s OK. There are no rules for how to feel. Allow yourself to feel the pain and the hurt. Talk about it with your family and friends.

As I consciously repeat to myself over and over again that “this pain will pass”, I’m aware that there are no short cuts through. I acknowledge my pain and have come to accept that this Christmas will be different…..

♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥

 

Posted in Uncategorized

ThOse stEEp cliMbS

ThOse stEEp cliMbS

As you get older it seems that there are steeper slopes to climb. It’s not that you don’t have them when you are younger; I think that perhaps you are more equipped to handle the pressure. There is a treadmill that I often use (not as much as I should) which has a setting and you can adjust it so that you are walking on an incline. So rather than just walking or jogging on a flat surface using the incline gives you more of a workout. Personally I have only used the incline a couple of times as I don’t really like it that much. You see I am not that ecstatic about exercise it isn’t something I am all that passionate about. While I am completely aware that exercise is healthy it usually takes me a lot of psyching up to get me to actually workout. It tends to happen in spurts, so for me that can mean regular exercise for a couple of months and then stopping for some reason (excuse) or another.

The steep climbs we have in life often feel as though everything is working against us, so it takes a lot from you to keep climbing. Physically when working out on an incline you get exhausted a lot faster than walking or jogging on a flat surface. I would think that more muscles are being worked on at an incline setting, although I am no fitness expert! These steep climbs in life happen from time to time and they do tend to take more from you than what you would perhaps want to give.

These steep climbs also feel like you are swimming against the tide,  as though for no real reason you find yourself in situations in which it seems everything is working against you. It may last a couple of days to a week or sometimes for a few months. When you are in the midst of it all you can feel is pain. It could be in your marriage or another close relationship with siblings or family. It could be your finances, there may be more bills coming in then there is income for a period of time. This in turn creates more pressure as you may be constantly swimming against strong currents that are trying to push you back.

Personally I would rather have life flowing smoothly in every single area, yet this is not the reality we face. As much as I don’t get excited about the incline setting on the treadmill I don’t get excited when I feel as though I am climbing another steep hill again in my life. These steep climbs in life take perseverance, as you know deep down that you can’t or don’t want to go back to where you were so you must keep GOING….

In a marriage both partners can feel that they are climbing A steep hill with no end in sight. As I mentioned earlier the older you get these steep climbs take more effort. You might be more sensitive than you used to be or you may not be able to handle pressure the same way as when you were younger. I know that for my husband and I since we had four children under four some decades ago, we now have four adults working their lives out at the same time. Both of us can feel the weight and pressure of their maturing process. Every parent desires the best for their children so you may find yourself walking up a steep hill with your adult children as they are working their lives out, phewww.

On these steep climbs you may need to get rid of baggage so that it doesn’t make it worse! Old behaviours or old ways of doing things may not work in this season or this climb, so there might be some adjustments to be made in order to keep climbing, releasing the extra weight off your shoulders. In the same way athletes wear certain types of clothing that help them move faster in their sport. Their clothing is specially designed to minimise any resistance to improve their time and result.

Married couples going through changes in life both physically and emotionally need to adjust their routines and perhaps even their communication. What may have worked when they were younger may not work at an older age. While both go through the aging process differently they can feel the same pressure as they are climbing the hill of ‘midlife’. It can be such a vulnerable time that quite some effort is needed to avoid jumping off the hill and leaving your partner there. In the heat of the moment we may feel like giving up yet the truth is that you will eventually begin the descent back down the other side. Don’t we all prefer that side of the hill as the pressure is lessened instantly and you almost feel like you can start running? Suddenly life feels easier again and what was working against you isn’t affecting you the same way anymore.

Life is a journey that continues despite the flat roads, the bumpy roads, the hills, the obstacles, whatever it may be at any given moment in time. Life might run smoothly for a while and then you may be back to the steep climb, either way it is good to remember that it is a part of the journey. It is a process that cannot really be avoided as much as every cell in our body screams against it.

Sometimes I have even stopped during a hill climb and sat there for a while (and prayed) just catching my breath and then getting back up, dusting myself off and continuing the journey. The main goal is to continue on in the journey and remember that while someone you know might be happily walking the flat road right now  (slightly jealous) and enjoying their season in life your time will come TOO. We cannot control what the road is going to look like or how many hills we may have to climb, but be encouraged every hill you climb gives you strength and endurance and even more wisdom for the next climb that comes your way.

Happy hill climbing my friends you will get to the other side

 (Speaking to myself too)