Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Wednesday's Woe - "Backwards Land": What to Do with Holidays?

Wednesday's Woe

"Backwards Land":

What to Do with Holidays?

~Tommy and Angie Prince

When our children were little, we played a game with them we called "Backwards Land." Up was down. Down was up. Right was left. Left was right. So occasionally, when our children would come up for supper time, enter the kitchen, and sit down at the table, Daddy (Tommy) would announce, "You have now entered Backwards Land!" The first time this happened, they looked on the table and saw breakfast served instead of supper. In "Backwards Land," they had to walk backwards. They had to talk backwards. For example, they would say "Isn't that a beautiful sunrise today?" when it was pitch-black outside, etc. And so, for the rest of dinner/oops, breakfast, we would play "Backwards Land."

"Backwards Land" was a fun thing to do from time to time. It was a fun time for the kids, and a sweet time for us to watch their creative brains working overtime.

But now? As bereaved parents, we seemingly are living in our own permanent "Backwards Land," where what was once fun and festive is now painful and gloomy.

It seems now holidays have become the worst days instead of the best days for us.

Fortunately, our own surviving children are quite familiar with the new rules by which we must live, and respect those uncomfortable situations that may arise for us and how me must choose to cope with them. They know "Backwards Land," and they understand why Mommy and Daddy must live there for now.

The problem is nobody else around us seems to know the new rules-by-which-we-now-are-needing-to-live though we have repeated them over and over. (Perhaps that is part of living in Backwards Land too - We speak, but nobody seems to hear us!) And that conundrum of folks not accepting the needed-changes-we-must-make-in-order-for-us-to-be-able-to-cope-with-our-child's-death makes for some awkward relationship adjustments.

But you know what, they will just have to "Deal!" ~ Or, as the folks in AA who also have to make major life changes for healthy adjustments to their new life would say so simply,

"It is what it is."


The worst days now are holidays: Thanksgiving, Christmas, Easter..., birthdays, weddings, (December) 31st--days meant as festivals of happiness and joy now are days of tears.

The gap is too great between day and heart. Days of routine I can manage; no songs are expected. But how am I to sing in this desolate land, when there's always one too few?

~Nicholas Wolterstorff, Lament for a Son

There are no rules governing grieving.

Each individual and family have to work out their way to get through it.

That process of finding a route that has the fewest emotional potholes is what constitutes the ongoing grief-work.

The family needs to find routes for itself. Any attempts from outsiders to impose rules rankles.

How can anyone recommend a detour around an obstacle if they have never been down that path?

In any case, suggesting rules heaps guilt and doubt on the shoulders of people who truly don't need any.

~Judith Bernstein, When the Bough Breaks Forever After the Death of a Son or Daughter


Right now, Tommy and I don't "do" crowds. But that's okay. I may not go "home" for the holidays, but I do go home to see my mother and I get to spend one-on-one quality time together with her, and it is incredibly sweet for us both.

...Sometimes "Backwards Land" is not really all that "backwards" after all!

Picture - http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1257869/Upside-house-opened-visitors--just-dont-use-toilet.html


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