We have holidays this time of year because it’s the Winter Solstice. The days are shortest now, darker than any other time of year. However, as my mom always likes to say, from here on, they’ll start to get longer again. Each day will be just a bit brighter, just a bit warmer. That thought helps her through the darkest days of the year.
There will still be cold nights, dark clouds, and rainy days, though generally they’ll be milder, and further spaced apart.
In seasons even further on, things will get darker again. This isn’t the last winter.
2017 was the worst year of my life — yet in so many other ways, leading right up until September 20, it was also my best. Our son was blooming into a little boy, we got to know him better each day, and we were able to cherish nearly every minute of it. It was pure, unadulterated happiness, the strongest concentrate we’ll ever experience — followed by the most miserable season we’ll likely ever face.
Since September 20, things have been dark, and in some ways, have gotten darker: time passes, scents fade, days get shorter and colder, and the world continues. I find myself thinking, “OK, Jackson, I’m really ready for you to come back now”, but of course, that’s an impossible wish.
In this miserable season, we have been held by our families, friends, co-workers, and communities. The Kindness Project has helped channel this wave of support into tangible help and kindness for hundreds of others. It’s a powerful help to see these acts around the world in Jackson’s memory.
We’d been warned that the three-month mark would likely be the hardest - it's when social support tends to start waning as people resume their normal lives. We’d been warned that for us, because this overlaps with the holidays, it’d be particularly painful. Those warnings helped us prepare, helped us grab a big breath before diving under the wave — and yet, for whatever reason, our support network has stayed, and in some ways, continues to grow. We've found ourselves surprised by how much this love and support has carried us through the holidays.
Though things are darkest now, we’re still here, and have likely passed through the most acute phase of our grief. The grief-as-loving-someone-who-is-gone will always remain. The grief-as-suffering will continue to recede as our acceptance of his passing, and ability to cope with this grief, continue to grow. We’ll continue to find small areas of post-traumatic growth.
Month-by-month, things will start to get a little bit brighter again, for a while.
This darkest period, this winter solstice of our lives, is passing.