Design and DIY Lifestyle

Healing Grief through the Holidays

November 16, 2020

I never intended on decorating for Christmas this year. In fact, I planned on skipping the holidays all together – Christmas with the Kranks style. But when my friends at Scotties asked if I’d partner with them on a second blog post, this time featuring winter-themed boxes designed by Genevieve Gorder, I couldn’t say no.

So on November 4th I (along with most of the other content creators on social media) began trimming my tree. A tree that would no longer have presents underneath it for Mom or Opal. As I hung two ornaments on its branches to honor them, the weight of their absence felt magnified by the glow of the twinkling Christmas lights. And for the first time in months, I cried – big, inconsolable, heaving sobs that I had yet to let out since Mom passed in July. I had wondered where those tears were, why they took so long to come, and what that meant about my grief. Instinctively, I reached for a tissue and I knew… Scotties was going to help me as I healed through the holidays.

Where are those tears?

Mom passed away unexpectedly on July 20, 2020 while Gareth and I were hiking my first mountain in Acadia National Park. I thought the 90 degree heat and rocky inclines were hard. Little did I know that the phone call I would receive once we returned to the car would be even harder. A police officer informed me that Mom had been found unresponsive in the kitchen after failing to show up for work that day. She was only 65. I cried immediately, understanding the finality of his words and then once more as I spoke to Mom’s coworkers over the phone. But that was it – those were the first and last tears that fell until I put the Christmas decorations up last week.

If I’ve learned anything over the past few months it’s that everyone grieves in their own way. For me, it was using my loss to propel me out of sadness as quickly as possible. I climbed Mount Washington (twice), traveled to the West Coast, and filled every spare moment with an activity. I didn’t allow myself time for tears or tissues even when they’re Scotties and come in stylish boxes that make the perfect addition to your holiday decor. See what I did there? 😉 Instead I kept busy and that’s okay, it’s still grief even if you don’t cry. You’re allowed to express it how ever you want to.

Why do they take so long to come?

After the passing comes the planning. The type of planning that no amount of school could ever teach. Words like executor of the estate, cremation, visiting hours, and inherited IRA were thrown at me faster than I could process. With my sister several states away, initially many decisions fell into my lap and I found myself wishing I had listened to Mom more intently when she was alive. Where had she wanted to be buried? What song did she want playing at her wake? Did she want a full Catholic mass? Uncertain and with COVID-19 restrictions in place, we planned her services to the best of our ability hoping that Mom would understand.

Then came the matter of her estate; the emptying of the house, the reading of the will, the paying of the bills. The tears didn’t come because there was still no time to grieve. We were too busy trying to track down Mom’s long-lost brother and decide which dishes of hers to keep. (Boy, did that woman have a lot of dinnerware.) So if you’re going through something similar, give yourself grace during this stage as you deal with the fallout and sort through years of memories.

What does that mean about my grief?

So here I am in the month of November, putting up Christmas decorations and realizing the heaviness that comes with loss during the holidays. As I finally deal with my grief (no matter what form it comes in), I believe it’s important to normalize it, to talk about it, and to share it with others. Because grief happens when life changes and during this life-altering global pandemic many of us are experiencing some level of it.

I want to give a huge thank you to Scotties Facial Tissues for allowing me to open up about this difficult topic, for creating the most beautiful limited-edition holiday boxes designed by Genevieve Gorder, and for being in almost every room of my house to help me as I heal through the holidays. These beautiful boxes will easily transition into the winter months and add subtle touches of metallic to my decor.

This post is in partnership with Scotties. As always, all thoughts and opinions are my own. Your support helps keep Emilyeveryday up and running!

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  • Reply Dirose November 16, 2020 at 9:28 am

    Emily, I am so sorry you lost your Mom.
    I loved the article.
    I love have you are getting thru by exploring the outdoors and traveling.
    You are such a sweet girl.
    Thank you for sharing your story.

  • Reply Jesse November 16, 2020 at 10:57 am

    This is so important. People get so uncomfortable talking about grief, especially in the context of the holidays. This is so, so real

  • Reply Angie November 16, 2020 at 11:01 am

    Just a quick thank you for talking about grief. I lost my mom and only parent a few years ago. I too didnt cry at first because I was busy doing many of the things you spoke of. Then in different ways the tears came out. It’s a process. Sending hugs❤

  • Reply Belle November 16, 2020 at 7:59 pm

    I love this. No words will suffice but I am sending love and hugs as you go through the holidays and the grieving period(there isn’t, really, thanks for noting that) Thank you for sharing so honestly. from Vancouver, Canada

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