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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 Strategy

Sifting through ‘muddled messes’…

By nature I am a person that likes things tidy and organised. Complete messes just mess with me. It throws off my mood and general sense of enjoyment. Having had four children under the age of four decades ago I spent morning to night dealing with messes. It was mostly all the practical stuff. Messes spread from room to room while mealtimes consisted of cute little faces wearing food as fast as it was being eaten.  Having mess is unavoidable.  Cleaning up the messes involved some organisation and staging. It seems to work better when we prioritise messes from extremely urgent to ‘this mess can wait’, especially when you are multitasking between young children with different ages requiring different levels of attention.

To let the day go with the flow would not have been as effective. Those types of days happen occasionally, however forward thinking or planning ahead can remove unnecessary stress and save time.

As a young mum in those days I had to be fairly fast with decisions and good at organising. It is no easy job to be a mum of four under four. At various stages I was also pregnant while looking after toddlers. So not only was I dealing with messes I was dealing with pregnancy and everything that came along with that. Naps were necessary and general care of myself was highly crucial. With pregnancy come the sensitive emotions riding alongside your hormones. No matter my emotional state I had to consider what the practical needs of the day were and stick to completing them. There were no options of staying in bed feeling overwhelmed with emotion as young children needed me to take care of them. We all know that young children don’t give you a day off.

No matter what season we find ourselves in there are messes to clean up in life.

Where there are people there will be mess.

In the same way that messes are unavoidable in daily living within a household, emotional mess can build up on the inside too!

Given the past three months or so of my recent journey I have been faced with plenty of mess. If it isn’t my own emotions swinging from one tree to another the challenge of my circumstances can sort of pile up on top of each other and leave me feeling overwhelmed. It is challenging to sift through messy emotions and messy circumstances all at the same time. Unlike Tarzan who loves swinging between trees I can’t say that it is really a skill that I have.

Until you find yourself in a situation such as a 27 year marriage breakdown it is difficult to comprehend all the various aspects one must deal with. There are the concerns you can’t help but feel for your children who are also struggling to deal with the situation somehow. There are the endless questions that pop into your mind which keep you up at night or hold you captive during the day.

In this particular season my four children who were under four decades ago are now adults. I only have my 9 year old with me. In some ways my adult children are now faced with sifting through their own emotional backlog of hurt and pain. I can’t do it for them no matter how desperately I wish I could take it all away and put a big smile on their cute little faces.

As I sift through these muddled messes I consider which areas are the most important right now. The minute I try and deal with everything at once I get extremely overwhelmed. It is essential for myself and my youngest that I do some forward planning and consider which areas are of most importance. While the needs are enormous practically and emotionally I have been learning to pace myself daily in order to accomplish some form of problem solving.

The problem solving is now on my shoulders!

I take my hat off to all the single mums out there who are in the same boat.

When questions or overwhelming emotions start cluttering my mind  I can only resort to looking at the situation by pure facts. It is the facts of this situation that speak clearer to me than my emotions can. Emotions can lead me astray. When I put those messy emotions aside for a moment I remind myself about the reality of what has taken place. Some of those realities or facts tell me that there is nothing I could have done to change anything. There are some messes in life that are out of my hands to clean up or fix. They are messes someone else has chosen to create and therefore it is out of my control.

As I mentioned earlier in this blog I am the sort of person who needs organisation, I can’t handle too much mess. Being in this current circumstance has been challenging as there has been plenty of mess to sift through. Trying to make sense of the mess is impossible. Trying to clean up all of the mess is also impossible. It simply is not in my power to do so.

The position that I can take in this muddled mess is one of prioritising, recognising the facts that can’t be changed and constantly reminding myself that I have no control over other people’s choices or decisions. I do have the power right now to move forward with little steps. To not expect that I can somehow problem solve everything in a day.

That no matter what has happened to me or my kids it is crucial to not let any further mess into my hurting heart. Having boundaries was never really a strength of mine when I was younger and perhaps that has caused me more grief than I can imagine. Having had such little value for myself opened the door to letting other people take control, almost like being tossed around at sea with no anchor of my own.

Whether you find yourself in a muddled mess or feel as though you are being tossed around out at sea I hope that what I have written reminds you to take a look at the facts. Don’t let emotions be your leader. Don’t give all your control to someone else, set boundaries and keep an anchor handy for those moments when you need to stop being tossed around out at sea.

An anchor can be your friends or your family. As a Christian a great anchor is the bible, church and prayer. All of these things are good for keeping you from being tossed around, feeling helpless in your circumstances.

Most of all no matter the mess,

you matter ♥