Seasonal Affective Disorder

It is Monday and I am working at one of the galleries where I am a member.  I have been getting out of the house a lot in the past few weeks and I have felt a little panicky lately.  I have also been experiencing some flashbacks to the day our son died.  Now that Fall has arrived and the sun abruptly shifted angles along with the shorter length of day I have pulled out my “light” therapy box.

Seasonal Affective Disorder.  I find it almost funny that there is a name for those of us who used to only suffer during the darker months of the year.  Those of us who have lost a child or children suffer from it all year long.

Halloween is the next holiday and for parents who have lost young children there must be a particular poignancy  when you walk through stores with the candy and costumes prominently displayed.  I was never a fan of Halloween and my children usually participated but did not seem to have the interest that some kids do.  Where we live it typically gets very cold by the end of October.  There have been years when we have had snow on Halloween.

There are other family oriented holidays quickly approaching and along with them now an unfortunate sense of dread.   Last year we had a wedding.  That is a happy memory.  The end of October now celebrates a joyful if somewhat bittersweet anniversary for us.

Last year we did our best to try to make Thanksgiving and Christmas as normal as possible.  The very idea is almost laughable.  Some parents living with loss talk of a “new normal.”  They talk of life before and life after.  I don’t know if there ever was a normal before and I would not call what I have now normal.  It is what I have.

As for this Thanksgiving and Christmas, I think is important for us to make an effort to be with those we love in as positive fashion as we can manage.  Beyond that it seems cruel to impose other expectations.   Perhaps we are left to live in a perpetual season of sadness.

I know that there are others who have lost loved ones.  Mothers, fathers, husbands and wives whose presence is sorely missed at those times we traditionally meet as family.  Everything changes inevitably so we pick up the pieces of ourselves and move on at whatever pace we can manage.

I have held my tongue this year.  I have never “liked” Fall.  Never.  Dealing with the season of sadness that seems to have established itself in perpetuity in my life, the season of Fall seems to be frustrating me more than ever.  I want to tell people who chirp excitedly about the cooler temperatures and leaves turning colors  how extremely depressing this  is for me.

For the most part I function rather well.  I do so for a number of reasons.  I honor my family which obviously includes my son by trying.  Most times it takes a lot of effort.  Some days it feels almost impossible.

I think most parents who live with this loss wish the world would slow down for just a little while to allow them to try and catch up.  Day to day events at times seem monumental.  But I have purchased some Halloween candy (which I am trying not to eat).  I have been thinking about what we should do for Thanksgiving and Christmas.  I am a victim of seasonal affective disorder, both the one caused by lack of daylight and the one caused by how starkly each holiday season brings to mind how much things have changed.


About pathfinder

Artist, Writer, Walking wounded.
This entry was posted in Coping with the Death of a Child, Death, Family, Friends, Holidays and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to Seasonal Affective Disorder

  1. SadMama says:

    We’re sad from the complete absence of son-shine. But sad doesn’t even begin to touch the depth of the feeling.
    I agree this season is so filled with memories. I’m dreading Thanksgiving (which will also be exactly 6 months since my son died). Really, I would love to hide until ….maybe February. (January will be bad because it’s the month that both my mother and father died and also my son’s birthday.)
    I can’t imagine when any time will ever be good again, but I also need to keep going for my daughter’s sake. And as one of the keepers of my son’s memory, I need to stick around for as long as possible. So, I am looking for ways to adjust and manage this unwanted life I now have.

    • pathfinder says:

      You are still so early in this process Sad. I am sorry. After talking with other parents of loss I found out that we all seem to dread the day and experience more pain in the dreading than the day itself. The first Christmas was the worst for our family. We found out – even though we knew it was obviously the case – that it was not nor would it ever be the same. We talked after the holidays and agreed that this year we would not even try and make it the same. We would just try and be together. Making that choice means that we will always miss the tradition that used to be. It would have changed with time anyway – but hopefully in a more organic natural way. This was abrupt and not by choice.
      If you can make plans then do so. The dread you feel is probably the worst of the pain though the “day of” you will feel some pangs. When the day ends you may even feel some strange relief or awe that you “made it through it.”
      This will be our second holiday season without our son. Just typing that makes my eyes smart with tears.
      I have to be here for my daughter and her husband, my husband must be here for me and his daughter/husband too and she likewise makes an effort on our behalf. We are not alone in the process even though it feels that way sometimes.
      Do what you can. Don’t overburden yourself. Build in times and ways to escape if you need to.
      Endurance. That is what I hope for you.

  2. debiszone says:

    I couldn’t agree more with this blog. For me a sadness has crept in, though the world looks beautiful in it’s colors. My son loved this season. Loved Halloween, and being 25 had enjoyed sitting passing out candy to little children. He was growing up. Thanksgiving was the last holiday we had together, so I dread it coming. My son loved this meal and cooked the last one we had together. Then before Christmas, he was gone. So this time of year is brutally cold and feels cruel to me. I would like to sleep until Spring.

    • pathfinder says:

      Dread is the one of the worst parts of this process. It fills up a lot of time before a date and then the day “of” often passes without feeling half as bad as we thought it would. I am so sorry debi. I hope you find a way to remember the joy of your son more and more. I am working on it myself. It has been 15 months for me. Hang in there and endure.

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