Holidays are times of stress. Yes, there’s joy and family and planned fun. But not for everyone.
And sometimes, along with the stress, there is pain. This is the time of year we miss the ones who are no longer with us. Whether they’re still alive but gone their own ways, or whether they’ve run their race and crossed that line to whatever is waiting next for us, if anything is.
And sometimes the stress is far more poignant, because the problems of separation are fresh wounds that happened just a few months or weeks or maybe even days ago.
Sometimes the problems are just happening
Sometimes you’re trying to get through this time of year while the very loss of someone is occurring in the shadow of a decorated tree with holiday songs playing as the most confusing of sound tracks to the drama.
I’m not trying to make this worse
I’m not writing this to make anyone more sad than they already are. I’m writing this so that you can see that I know what I’m talking about. I’ve spent holidays with loss. Many times. Friends, grandparents, my mother, my wife.
Stress makes ADHD worse. The symptoms add more stress and that just amps it all up even more.
How do I do the holidays?
Being raised as a christian, the holiday celebrated in my home was, of course, Christmas. And even though I’m no longer considered a christian by myself or anyone else much, that is the celebration that I most recognize.
I’ve made my way through Christmas with the memory of my grandfathers funeral just four days old in my young teenage mind. I’ve wondered what the point of celebrating holidays was when my mothers service was not three months past.
My wife’s suicide was five months old when the holidays rolled around again. I thought I’d be okay, but just a couple or so days before Christmas eve my best friend gave up on our friendship without really being able to explain why.
So I know … you know?
But I’m still here. And I’m not backing down and I’m not backing out and I’m not giving in. I’m heading out tonight to sing seasonal songs with people I know, and with strangers also.
I’m looking forward to seeing people celebrate and be happy. I’m going to watch for the joy and live off of it, thrive in its presence, bask in the glow.
And then …
And then, at some point when I’m alone for a few minutes, I’m going to think about those who are gone, and remind myself that it hurts now because it was good when they were here. I loved that then, and I can love it now.
And if you’re in the same situation as I am, I’m going to ask you to remember what Dr Seuss said, “Don’t cry because it’s over, laugh because it happened.” And then Dr. Kelly is going to tell you, “Follow that advice!” It won’t stop the stress, but it may help reduce it. And at this time of year, with ADHD, every little bit helps.