As the holiday season approaches, I kindly remind others that there is more to Christmas than what is underneath the tree. My name is Samantha Teichman, I am a fourth year Sociology & WGST student, and my Honours research explores the ways in which parental loss impacts the function of a family. This research question originated from first-hand experience of growing up through grief.
At the young age of sixteen, I lost my mother suddenly to a heart attack, which altered the function of our family. The loss of my mother not only left a huge hole in my heart, but also in the everyday functions of our home. For instance, my mother’s roles in our household, such as driving my sister and I to soccer games and picking up groceries, were now left to be filled. Through my interviews with students at Acadia who have also lost a parent, it became very clear to me this adjustment is always on-going. Many of my interviewees talked about the difficulty of holidays and celebrations and what it means to not have that loved one present.
If you happen to be like me, then I would like to pass along some tips for navigating your way through the holiday season when missing your loved one:
Create a new tradition in memory of your loved one.
For me this entails making my mom’s homemade mac & cheese – as said in my family, the trick to the recipe is if you think you have enough cheese, add more!
Play your loved one’s favourite holiday music. If your loved one hated holiday music, that’s okay! Play whatever music they loved.
For my mother, (and many other moms around the world) the holiday season meant Michael Bublé on repeat – you only break out the bubbly for special occasions, right?
It is okay to enjoy yourself! The holidays will be tough, but there will also be love and joy. Remember, it is okay to be happy – this doesn’t lessen how much you love and miss the person who is not there this holiday. Do not feel guilty for the joy you are able to find this holiday season.
With all this in mind, I wanted to remind people that there is a lot more to Christmas and the holiday season that what is on our wish lists. In fact, one of the only things on my wish list and that of my interviewees would be to have one more Christmas with those loved ones in heaven. Through my honours research and my own lived experience, I can say that the holiday season can be one of the loneliest times of the year. My Christmas wish this year is to ask anyone reading this to check in on their friends and family who have had their battle with grief. As well, I ask that you be grateful for everything you do have, rather than the gifts Santa did not bring. Your loved ones and the memories you share together are worth more than any gift under the tree.
Samantha Teichman is a fourth year (Honours) Sociology and WGST student