Thursday, December 19, 2019

A Christmas tour with an update

It's hard to believe that I haven't posted anything this month because holidays were always my thing, such a joyful time. I was always bursting at the seams, so excited to decorate. Blasting Christmas tunes in my car the minute Thanksgiving was over. 

This Christmas season it's been so tough and I notice how I disappear from social media when I get like this.

I remember hearing a father at a Compassionate Friends group say in a voice whacked with grief, that the second year following his devastating loss was far worse than the first year. And I was startled to hear this. But now, I think I get it. 

Last December at this time I was still basically numb. I was going through all the motions of life but according to trauma specialists, I was still being protected from the full emotional brunt of Patrick's loss because of the way my brain and nervous system went into survival mode. Now that the numbness is's like having the scab ripped off your wounds. 

I describe it like being in the middle of heart surgery when everything seems to be manageable and then BOOM! Without warning the anesthesia wears off and you slowly begin to experience the raw, withering pain that was always there, but muffled by the wooziness of your shock. The worst thing about it--is that there's no where to go to escape this unbearable condition. The physician and nurses are gone. The hospital room is dim and silent. And there's no action left that can ever change the outcome.

It's just you and the truth.

This is how it feels when you begin to face the reality of your child being gone. As you can imagine,  this kind of grief transcends words.

But please realize. I'm not sharing this because I want anyone to feel bad for me, I share it because I believe that telling the truth is the only way towards the light. And I want women who come to my blog to know that if you're feeling down or depressed for whatever your reasons, it's OK. You're not alone. Although during the holidays it's easy to feel this way.

Going into shopping malls this Christmas has been like torture and I literally hunker down with my shoulders up, praying that I don't hear certain Christmas songs overhead as I hurry through the stores, especially the men's department at Macys. I try to avoid the stores I browsed with Patrick, the racks with those jeans he bought (and usually left at a friend's house (wink). But shopping anywhere is dangerous territory because of the unexpected memories that pop up in front of me like a deadly intruder. 

It doesn't take much to remind me of Patrick. A dark stubble on the face of a passing young man. A black beanie being worn by an athletic looking guy. Cute shot glasses in HomeGoods that reminds me of that night at the Long Beach comedy club when he was laughing so loud, in the seat next to me. 

How many visual images can remind you of one of your kids? You'd be surprised. I'm learning that when you're missing your child so much it physically hurts, there are literally a hundred different moments during your day that can trigger a mother's memory of them.

If you happen to be going through a rough time emotionally, what I hope you realize is that there are things you can do that can help you. Megan Devine talks about this idea of wellness vs worseness, and how important it is for us to recognize when we're making things worse for ourselves with our thoughts. She calls it mentally tormenting ourselves, with those repeated mind-loops where we play things back in our head and wonder what we could have done differently.

Besides meditation, which I do daily, one of the most nourishing things on my wellness list is being creative. Whether it's my DIY projects, or writing or painting. Recently I've found it soothing to put some Christmas decorations up around the house. And I know a lot of bereaved mothers can't decorate for the holidays and I totally understand. But if you're someone who enjoys being creative, you can probably relate to the sense of being happily transported for a bit by one of your projects. The pain is still there, but I notice the tiniest sense of peace that comes from creating beauty in whatever form.

You know how bloggers often have a theme for their Christmas d├ęcor?

This year I started with the question, "What's the opposite of Merry and Bright?" And I decided that Breathing and Grateful was the idea that kept me moving. 

So a big welcome to you.
I hope you enjoy looking around. Oh-and something I just learned, if you're viewing these photos from your phone, for a clearer view you can click on each photo.

Sending you the blessings of love and faith and hope this Christmas and beyond. Thank you from the bottom of my heart for your support. I only hope you realize how precious and loved you truly are.


I'm sharing this post with friends:

Imparting Grace
Home and Garden Thursday


michele said...

Breathing and grateful is highly underrated as a Christmas theme, Leslie, and I join you in its humility which reflects a Bethlehem stable more accurately than any decked out Macy's. I'm not surprised you are finding reminders of Patrick everywhere - I hope with time they will keep presenting themselves and elicit sweetness more than sorrow. Each year I try to make my heart a Bethlehem - is there room for Him to come in His radiance and reign in my heart? What new ways have I cluttered it with trappings so ill-suited for a prince of peace? Your honest truth here ushers me into the holy - into the real - into that night sky 2,000 moons ago. Lord, have mercy on you and yours and on me too as we follow that bright star and walk each other home. xox

Susan Nowell @ My Place to Yours said...

Leslie, "breathing and grateful" sounds perfect for this season. Your simple but elegant decor is wonderfully calming — and I love your Dutch door! I, too, realize that when I pull away from my blog it's usually for more reasons than busy-ness. I've published very few holiday posts this year myself. Your advice to acknowledge but not be brought down by feelings of melancholy is a message I hope many women hear loud and clear. Thanks for sharing, friend. May you experience peace this Christmas.

Brenda said...

Prayers! If you don't feel the holiday you know you are right!! Loss of a child the worst!!!!

Sarah said...

Leslie, your words are beautiful. I know you speak from your heart, that it can't be easy to write these posts, but you are amazing. I appreciate your honesty! I send you positive vibes and energy frequently. I think of you often. Of course, I'm not a parent, have not suffered such a loss as yours, but your heartache and words resonate with me.
Thanks for the sweet comment on my IG. I send you big hugs across the miles too. May your Christmas be filled with special times with those near and dear, and may Patrick be at your side whispering in your ear.

La Contessa said...

Merry Christmas!
YOU have done an outstanding job decorating THE CASA!He would want YOU to keep moving and doing the things that HE remembers!I too am having a hard time this year getting it all together!I have not been to one MALL!That says A LOT from me!
I have a relative staying with us who had spine surgery YESTERDAY and CAME home to us yesterday!!!!!!!!CAN YOU BELIEVE THAT?!This MEDICAL business I have a HATE/ LOVE AFFAIR WITH.
I know I have asked you but don't recall the answer have you ever been to ROGERS GARDENS by FASHION ISLAND?They have a CAFE now and that would would be a GOOD place for you to wander.............MY MOTHER use to work there and she LOVED IT!
Thinking of YOU and will call you soon maybe after the festivities just to HEAR YOUR VOICE!We need to plan a trip for me to come down!

Melanie said...

I went to a Christmas party a few nights ago that was a group of us local "Angel Moms". One woman there echoed the same sentiment as you did - that this second Christmas without her son was harder than last year - her first Christmas without her son. Last year, she was too numb to fully encompass the immense pain. This year, it's more real and raw. I told her that this was my 11th year without my son (which is unreal to me) and that I can't even remember the first few holidays. Everything is a blur.

Like you, to this day, any creative endeavor that I enjoy, or even just puttering around the house and making things "just so" and rearranging somehow soothes me and is one of life's little pleasures.

Much love to you,

Pam Zwieg said...

Dear Leslie,
Oh those beautiful reminders of Patrick....just a bit of tangible "proof" that our loved ones that have passed on, are still all around us. Patrick was, and is still a part of all you feel and do.
Your home looks so cozy, beautiful and inviting. I took a screen pic of the bowl with the Cyclamen and apples, so simple but elegant and I think that would be a pretty centerpiece through January.
Thank you for all your amazing posts this past year and I look forward to your writings to come in 2020.
Christmas love from Chicago to you and yours.
Pam Z

Blondie's Journal said...

I so love reading your posts and "listening". I can't identify with your feelings right now but nevertheless, I feel them in my own heart. As always, I cannot imagine how you go from one day to the next, and I feel like you are weaving a little web that we have to see, we have to cling to somewhere , somehow in out hearts, maybe just in case.

The opposites in the good old holiday colors is a creative idea and your photos are superb. I'm wishing you and your family all the love and blessings of this season of joy and the true meaning of Christmas.

Jane ❤️

Van@Luxuria said...

God! I can't imagine the pain you are going through Les as I am not a parent and I know that grief is the worst.
But I lost my Dad a few years ago and the last day I saw him was on Christmas Day of that year. So now every Christmas I literally re-live every hour. Christmas songs, Christmas foods, Christmas movies......anything can trigger me even after 4 years.
The minute Christmas songs start being played I feel the sadness start to envelope me (especially as my Dad loved Christmas).
The worst is there is no telling when the grief will hit you and when it hits in company. Then you find yourself apologising because you got a little teary because you don't want to bring sadness to the party!
It's a hard time but I love how you chose "breathing" and "grateful". I think this is going to be my mantra for 2020, or at least for those moments when I feel wobbly.
Sending love and hugs from the UK Les.
Love, Van xxx

Sophie said...

We love you! Oh and that leopard print ottoman too. :-)

Sheepskinsandfairylights said...

Breathing and Grateful, something to take forward into the New Decade.
Full of admiration Leslie for you, can't imagine much love and may the New Decade bring kindness to all XxXx

Elizabeth@ Pine Cones and Acorns said...

Thinking of you Leslie. I hope that you had a Christmas surrounded by family, friends and love. I know that Patrick was missed and I believe he was looking down on you and watching you. xo

Linda @ Itsy Bits And Pieces said...

Oh my, Leslie...such a heartfelt post. Breathing and grateful really says it. I will carry that with me. Wishing you peace and love this new year...xo

mollie's mom said...

I'm literally just catching up on favorite blogs - we've been on a bit of a whirl around here but nothing compared to your loss of Patrick. I've recently blogged about it as well. I'm glad to see that you were able to decorate a bit and be creative. I appreciate your honesty in your posts so much! I wish you more peace in 2020.

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