The Grief Journey–A Contradiction of Emotions

This past Thanksgiving was our sixth year without Nick.  Last Wednesday night I was making appetizers.  Stephen was in the basement playing video games and Luke was at his soccer game.  I lit a candle by Nick’s photo.  The house was extremely quiet. I missed the joviality of holiday preparation.  When Stephen came up to forage I told him that I was feeling sad and the house didn’t feel festive.  He hugged me and played music.  Then we danced and I felt better.

Liv, my daughter from another mother came over with a friend. They hung out with me while I cooked.  Liv’s sister Lys (my other daughter) came over with their mom, Iris, and Liv left.  It was like the universe felt my sadness and sent over reinforcements.  They stayed and visited with Luke when he came home.  My cooking was done and I felt blessed.

My sister Michele with her daughters Alysia & Marisa.

On Thanksgiving morning I spent time with Nick by writing to him. I was ready to travel to my sister’s house.  I love being with my family.  We have tons of fun dancing, singing, laughing and playing games. As I enjoyed the dinner, I thought of how much I missed my son and how wrong it was that he wasn’t there.  I pictured him laughing at the table with his cousins, taking pictures with his brother.  While I laugh with my family, my heart squeezes in pain because of my loss. I see Nick in his cousins’ faces and mannerisms.  I feel the pain and this is when the roller coaster of grief turns into a whirlwind of chaotic emotions.

Our last Thanksgiving with Nick 2007

It’s difficult to get through holidays with this stressful interplay of emotions.  In order to be able to handle it better so that I can enjoy my family, I do a few things to honor my son and connect. The morning of a holiday I spend time with Nick, either by visiting his place at the cemetery or writing to him as I have a candle lit by his photo.  I wear something of his, whether it’s his cross and Italian horn or an article of clothing.  I make sure his favorite food or dessert is part of the menu.  Everyone knows that cream puffs = Nick.  He loved them and I’d have to stop him from eating them all.  Everything I do reminds me of how special he is.

At this point in my grief journey, I know that as long as I take the time to be with Nick, I can enjoy my family.  Feeling so connected to Nick helps me manage my sadness.  I can never say that I am over my grief, because I will always have sadness without Nick.  It’s a fact that I have to live with.  Thankfully, I have other special people in my life to help me when the emotions become too raw.

The De Tillio Gals!  Momma with my sisters Michele and Stephanie

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