Having a Blue Christmas

Image courtesy of jannoon028/FreeDigitaPhotos.net

Image courtesy of jannoon028/FreeDigitaPhotos.net

As I noted in last week’s Wacky Wednesday post, I love Christmas, especially the decorations. But I understand that this time of year is not always joyful. In fact, there were times when I’ve had a “Blue Christmas” rather than “The Most Wonderful Time of the Year.” My Christmas wish was to be on a cruise to the Caribbean rather than sitting at home alone in my apartment, listening to sad songs and watching fictional characters make merry on television.

Feelings of loneliness are often compounded during Christmas, and it is just one of the reasons that the holidays can be difficult. On Sunday I called my mother, who I usually talk to daily, and discovered that she had been deep into her “holiday blues” for a couple of days. She hadn’t called because she didn’t want to burden me. She feared that she would make me sad as well.

For my mother, this season reminds her of the people she loves who have passed away, especially her parents. Both of her parents died in December, although it was years apart. I was only two-years-old when my grandfather died, so I can’t remember him or his death. But my grandmother’s death is etched in my memory, even though I was living hundreds of miles away when it happened. She died December 26, 1995.

On December 25, just as my grandmother, my mother, and their guests were about to sit down to Christmas dinner, my grandmother had a severe pain in her head which turned out to be a stroke. She was conscious as the paramedics were putting her into the ambulance, and that was right about the time that I called home. I was on my way to work that day, but I wanted to find out how Grandma liked my present.

She was in the emergency room for hours while doctors tried to lower her blood pressure, which was skyrocketing. According to my mother, however, they never really provided much treatment. Eventually, later that night, they released her. As my mother was driving Grandma home, she screamed and slumped over. My mother rushed her back to the hospital. Grandma had experienced a cerebral hemorrhage; she slipped into a coma and never regained consciousness. She was taken off life support the following day.

My mother feels things very deeply, so I understand how this season affects her. But I chastised her for not calling me. (Even though we live in different states, we are constantly in touch.) I am sure that not talking to anyone only deepens her feelings of aloneness and sadness.

There are so many people who are hurting during this time of year. I have opened this window into my world because I think it is an important topic. Please reach out to family and friends who may be having a hard time. And if you are sad, blue, melancholy, or depressed, you are certainly not alone. Reach out to your family and friends. Let them know how you are feeling. And if your depression is really serious, do not be too proud or afraid to see a counselor.

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2 thoughts on “Having a Blue Christmas

  1. The story of your Grandmother’s passing makes me incredibly sad and angry. The anger, of course, stems from another story – the one in which the doctor’s neglected to care for her. I know how tough the holidays are, though, especially for folks who are missing someone.

    Each Christmas, I would have people at my house, and I would call my Aunt and request that she tell me the appropriate way to set the table. I knew how to set the table. She had insisted that I set it each Sunday and holiday while growing up, but I enjoyed hearing her tell me herself. It connected me to home and to her, who was very much a significant part of all that I call home. 3 years ago, she told me to take a picture of the table because she was not going to always be around. A year and a half later, she passed away. I miss her tremendously.

    Thanks for the post. I hope that it reaches the person that needed to read it.

    • Yeah, I hope the post was helpful to someone. I know you miss your aunt, but hopefully thoughts of her bring more joy than sadness.

      I actually read it to my mother, and she said, “You DO understand!” The way my grandmother died probably has a lot to do with why I write about race and medicine.

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