Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Thankfulness ......


...... is sometimes very, very hard to find.

Which, sometimes, makes this time of the year very, very hard to endure.

No ...... Thanksgiving ...... and the month of December ...... oh, hell, we might as well go all the way to that crappiest holiday of them all ...... February 14th (I don't even want to say/type the name) ...... are days that should not have to be "endured" ...... but it's a fact that they are.

I had always heard that this time of the year has a higher incidence of depression and suicides than other times.
I thought I understood that concept ...... "before".

I had no earthly idea.

Until Christmas 2007.
One week, to the day, after Jim died.

Now I am a statistic.
I'm one of those people who find the holidays depressing ...... and wish we could just skip the whole damn month.
Or two.
Or three.

My "death march" (the days leading up to the day he died ...... the days that my body tunes into the date,
 even when my mind doesn't) starts around now.  It really solidifies into a steady beat on Thanksgiving.
Making that holiday so.  much.  fun.

This doesn't mean that I'm not thankful.
This year.
Being thankful has gotten easier.
I imagine that on my first Thanksgiving without Jim ...... if you had asked me if I was thankful for anything ...... I could have sarcastically said, "Yes.  I'm thankful that my children aren't dead, too."
And that's about all I could've been "thankful" for.

But each year has brought more thankfulness.
Or actually, with each year that passes I am more able to realize that there are many things for which I really am thankful.
Even though I'm still grieving harder at this time of the year.
Even though this whole thing still sucks.
Even though ...... well, just ...... even though.

I am happy.
And I grieve.
I've found that those two things can now peacefully coexist (most of the time) in my heart.

As I've said before, my "after" happy is different than my "before" happy.  I doubt that I will ever see my "before" happy again.
And while that sometimes makes me feel sad, it's also OK.

Those cold, inky black days of grief are behind me.
The future, though still totally unknown ...... and unplanned ...... looks brighter.
I don't wake up each day with my first thought being, "Jim is dead."
I dont' fall asleep at night with my last thought being, "Jim is dead."
I don't long for death.
I can think of Jim, and all that we had, and not feel that cold, sharp slice into my heart.

So for all of that, and for the hope that I have given at least one of you just that ...... hope ...... I am thankful.

If you aren't feeling it this year ...... that's OK.
It doesn't mean that you're selfish.
It doesn't mean that you're ungrateful.
And it doesn't mean that you will always feel this way.
It just means that you're ...... normal.
In a perfectly abnormal situation.

During what can be a perfectly horrible time of the year.
But hopefully, and most likely ...... not always.


  1. I'm one of those statistics, too, Janine. Would like to just put my head in the sand for the next 3 months and skip all those happy holidays that aren't. They all lead up to date of death in February, and then V day comes along just to top it off. I, too, am thankful, and I'm trying to focus on all I have to be thankful for. But my mind keeps going back to what I don't have...
    it's so difficult to let go of what was.

    Thanks for letting me know that I am normal, I look around and feel I no longer fit in anywhere. The expectations of others for me to be over this grief and moved on in my new life without him drags me down every day, and more so in these next few months. I do see a difference from last year to this year, and that gives me some hope. But I never ever thought it could take so long to find my way again. I am thankful for your words and hope you also find peace in the next few months.

  2. Janine, your honesty is awesome. You always hit home with me and validate my feelings but yet you inspire and encourage as well!!

    I very much wish I could go to sleep and wake up in January. I also agree with Cathy in that the expectations of others to "be over this" adds to the grief weight which is heavy enough! It means so much to me when others acknowledge the difficulty of the holidays. It is a special gift that doesn't come to me often but I am grateful when it does.

    Happy Thanksgiving to everyone and their families! Among my blessings are the writers and responders on this website. I am grateful!!!!

    Thank you Janine!

  3. Wow. You nailed it. Thank you. I laughed out loud when you mention the 1st Thanksgiving sarcastic response of thanksgiving "that my children aren't dead too" - SO truthful.
    You bring hope to me. I still feel my grief most days, but I've had glimmers sporadically of happier days. I too, agree, that the old happy may never exist and right now (21 months) I can't imagine a new happy.
    My goal this next couple days are to try my best to be present in the moment - not an easy task when all I want is the past......but I will try. My two year old and nine year old grand-daughters and their pregnant Mom (my daughter) and dad are driving 7 hours to spend time with me celebrating Thanksgiving on Thursday and Christmas on Friday = Thanksmas. I love being with them because they bring life to my heart, as do my adult children - but different bc the little ones aren't carrying the burden of grief. Oh they miss their "Papa", but they get it. Though taxing on me physically and emotionally - for a few days I will do better than endure, I will choose to see the beauty of life through their eyes, as best as I can....which might be some parts of the day with one eye open and one eye shut. Oh well. Gotta roll with it.

  4. I am rapidly approaching my addition to the obvious... his birthday is Dec 21st and our anniversary is Dec 30th.
    I think I will be ok... but, I don't know. I am definitely heading into uncharted territory.
    I do know that my MIL has cancelled Christmas...and I am extremely bummed...every Christmas morning...for 32 years we showered, put new Christmas jammies on and hopped in the car and went to her house for a big breakfast and presents...
    We are still having out annual cookie decorating/brunch for Christmas this year...I am opening it up to friends as well as family...
    I will crash after New Years... maybe
    Peace to all of you and a blessed Thanksgiving

  5. Thanks guys once again for helping me to realize that I do have so much to be thankful for. Mjay you so put things into perspective with your comment about seeing the beauty of life through the eyes of our little ones. I WILL make it through this first holiday season thanks to all of you! Bless you all.

  6. Hey Janine, I'm checking back on to this site after being off for about a year. Just wanted to say that reading this post where you said if you helped just one of your readers...well, I want you to know you helped me, alot. I hit the three year mark in October. I had started reading here almost daily in the beginning, those dark days where you wake up and don't know what hit you and what to do with yourself, feeling very detached. Your posts were always so poignant and honest, and they took alot of courage to write, I'm sure. You were a light at the end of the tunnel. So I want to thank you for that. I have come so far since that time, and I'm so grateful that I have. As you said, the day comes where it is not the first thing on your mind in the morning or at night. You don't think that could ever happen, but thank God it does. Reading your posts served as an anchor in very choppy, dark seas, so please know your work here is appreciated and more helpful than you will ever know. I am doing OK now, with your support, having gone through grief counseling for a year, journaling, taking care of myself, not letting anyone push me past what I was capable of (not much, for a long time). I think there is a place I reached where I was finally strong enough to make a concious decision to push the bad memories out and to keep repeating "No Moping." I'll never be "over it" but I have come a long way, feeling alive again. Thanks for all you do on this site and always know someone out there is gaining strength because you are willing to open yourself up. God Bless.