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.