Family / Grief / Mental Health / Suicide survivor

A weird metaphor for complicated Holidays

Surrounded by the opulence of Christmas and Christmas Eve tradition: tonight I am thinking of the less opulent and glamorous.

Tonight I think of the nurses caring for ICU patients. NICU babies. The nurses watching the living say goodbye to the dying. Tonight my heart grieves with the grieving families after life’s biggest losses. Tonight I hurt with people who just can’t get cut a break from life’s unfair stuff – in any way, shape, or form. I hurt with those who face painful family expectations and abusive dynamics that tend to spike this time of year, or those whose mental health is declining rapidly as tides shift in holiday seasons.

Of COURSE there’s a lot of good around Christmas: but that’s not what I’m here to talk about because so many have that covered. And if you need to read about the good and easy, this one might not be for you.

Because, in reality, there’s also a lot of hard stuff this time of year. And – for that reason – I’m sharing the weird, seemingly out-of-place photo you see above. That tiny house behind my half-selfie-face is the Edith Macefield house. I had the chance to visit it when we went to Seattle and just love it. I could sit there all day. (Google it’s history – or start here on this fascinating article.) Edith’s house sits squished between the opulence and sterility of corporate America. Two massive, steel buildings society has deemed picture-perfect tower on either side of her home.

Most don’t care to see Edith’s house right here anymore – especially corporate America. They want it torn down ASAP as possible. It’s too…Sad. Too old. Too dark. Because people don’t want to be reminded of the layers and depth of this little old house as they’re walking into Ross for a cheap candle. …And, in a previous (pre-2019) life, I get it! I wouldn’t want to be reminded of love and loss when I’m on the hunt for a Volcano knock-off!

…This is why, IMHO, the Edith Macefield house makes for a great metaphor. There are SO many of us living in that same ((metaphorical)) house tonight, tomorrow, and throughout the holiday season. A house so many want to avoid.

It feels like you can’t breathe as “merry” and “joy” and “pOsItIvItY” tower around you – even when your home is small, dark, and less merry this year. It’s a home of survival. You’re standing and that’s enough for now. There are SO many of us in homes like Edith’s this week, too. And we all deserve a level of respect for our experience: even if it doesn’t meet the expectations of those beautifully cringe Hallmark movies we all love to hate.

We all deserve to breathe. Whether we’re having our giant-ass opulent corporate skyscraper year or our Edith Macefield home year: your year deserves space.

My metaphorical home is like Edith’s this holiday season. In a recent therapy session, I was told there’s a significant chance losing Aaron will be the biggest loss I’ll experience in my lifetime…And that has hit home for me ever since. The biggest loss of my lifetime. And it happened at 30 years old. I’m tired. This holiday season is hard. And boy do I feel like that small, fenced-off, lonely Edith Macefield home as everyone towers around me in their Holiday spirit.

This year the pain snuck up on me: I was less prepared this time. Bracing less intensely. And it hurts more than ever.

The biggest loss of my lifetime has no grief timeline.

So if you’re feeling lonely in your metaphorical-Edith-style-home as you peek out of your bent, yellowed blinds at the steel buildings and skyscrapers full of jolly-merry-christmasey around you: know you’re not the only one.

There are others like you. There’s space for you, too.

And hell, sometimes creating that “space” isn’t so therapized or fancy like we make it out to be. Maybe it simply means telling everyone you’ll see them next year and calling this year a wash as you head to the mountains.

That sounds like a win to me, too.