Holiday Emotions Only Your #tapsfam Understands

Author: TAPS

If you’ve ever seen the movie Elf, you know that there are times you just might not “fit in.” Whether you need to dig into the holidays or to completely disconnect from them, there’s no place that grief takes you that your #tapsfam doesn’t understand. We’ve lived through the extremes, and we’ve made it through the melancholy in between–you will make it, too.

TAPS child asleep by christmas presents

What we've learned by living is that continuity can be comforting. We seek and find our loved ones in family traditions. On the other hand, especially in early grief, the instinct to do something new and different can be a lifeline. By changing the frame of reference, we remove comparisons to the holidays we wish we were having.

But really, the problem is more complex, more emotional, and can spin us into overload. As Charlie Brown famously said, "I think there must be something wrong with me, Linus. Christmas is coming, but I'm not happy. I don't feel the way I'm supposed to feel."

Charlie Brown is not alone. When the world wants us simply to celebrate, our experiences demand something more. Sometimes, that something more is a way to reorient and get ready for the next year. But the "something more" is often perspective and connection. Do any of these sound familiar?

When people ask you what's on your wish list, your first reaction is to say, "The Resurrection Stone from Harry Potter," "my life back," or "a hot tub time machine."

That A Charlie Brown Christmas may become one of your favorite holiday movies because you feel a little bit like Charlie Brown. 

That it's sometimes hard to sing to the end of "Frosty the Snowman"-because we just cannot handle the additional loss. (Shout out to Disney for the better snowman solution in Frozen.) 

Why we know that holiday wishes accompanied by "happy" and "merry" are well-intentioned, but-as much as we want them to-they just might not apply. 

Why the "family update letter" may not be as fun to write-or read. So it may not happen. Even if it does happen, you might not say what you really want to say.

Why the tolerance for family or friend arguments is either very low or very high. It's often easier to pick a fight and be angry than bear the pain and ache of sadness. 

Why we would rather sometimes volunteer than celebrate. Sometimes we just need to give the love away to someone who really, really needs it. In moments of giving, we also see that we still have a place in this great big world. 

Wrapping paper and tape are, in fact, out to make your life even more miserable. And, yes, everything was easier "before."  The paper folded better and the presents were prettier in earlier, less difficult years. Yes, it did and yes, they were. Buy gift bags or dump the unwrapped lot at your local charity wrapping kiosk and walk away with boxes, bows and a hug. 

When you decide this is the year you're going to attempt holiday cooking again, only to find yourself lost in the baking aisle or in tears in the deli section. You decide to hedge your bets and end up ordering Chinese again. 

You don't get around to mailing out holiday cards on time, or at all-and then you finally buy them late, when they're on sale. You justify all this by saying, "what is time, anyway…" 

When you miss the holiday stamps at the post office and are left with only the Valentine's Day stamps, you not only mark two stressful holidays off your to do list, but you tell people you're finally being honest about your emotional state by mixing messages.

That the best gifts are understanding, grace, and maybe bereavement pants from the TAPS store.

We understand that the struggle is real. If you're new to grief, or if this is yet another holiday season without your loved one, what scares or worries you most about the holidays? What surprises you as harder or easier than you thought as the years move along? Talk to us by sharing your feelings and experiences at the "Your #tapsfam Understands" Facebook event. We'll leave the light on and welcome you with a hug and open arms.