Photo credit: Alexander Le’Jo
‘Tis the season to be merry! Right? Isn’t that what we say during the Christmas holiday? For some, the holiday season is special for many reasons, one of them being spending time with family and friends. But what about those who don’t feel merry, festive, or anything? The ones who have feelings of loneliness, sadness, and stress because they’ve lost a loved one.
Navigating the first holiday without a loved one can be difficult, especially trying to figure out how to spend the time without them. And what if the loved one lost is your mom? Your person. Your confidant. The one who celebrates your wins and losses. The one who created the merry that made the holidays feel like home. That’s a tough one to digest.
Missing your mom is expected during the holidays. You could continue with traditions, or order from Uber Eats and spend the day at home watching your favorite Christmas movies. But there is no right or wrong way to spend your first Christmas without your mom.
Meet T’Mil Curtis. A marketing strategist, author, content creator, digital distribution specialist, public speaker, blogger, and a virtual operations trainer. A renaissance woman who is fun-loving, hilarious, and always prepared with a thought-provoking comeback.
She recently accepted the general manager position at a multi-media company in Houston, Texas, where she will focus on the growth of general label revenues, streams, and all ancillary commercial opportunities; seek and discover new music and talent opportunities; and act as an ambassador for the label.
Her life was on a fast track until the unthinkable happened. On August 28, 2022, her mom, Zadella “Mama” Curtis passed. A woman everyone loved and called “Mama.” She was a multi-talented powerhouse best known for helping gospel quartets promote their music to radio. She and T’Mil were close. They talked about everything. And Christmas time was their favorite.
There are different ways to cope during the holidays, and everyone grieves differently. Curtis, who suffers from Trigeminal Neuralgia—-a chronic pain condition that affects the trigeminal or 5th cranial nerve—deals with neuropathic pain on a daily so grieving looks quite different on her.
“I’m usually pushing through a pain level of about 5/6 daily, which that pain level can wipe others out!” states Curtis. “I have good days, and I have days that aren’t as favorable, and then I have consistent days when getting out of bed is victorious. But as long as I have breath in my body, I choose to win!”
If a tradition is associated with a person who is gone, how can it ever feel right again? Sometimes you must make new traditions. This holiday, Curtis is entering “The Year of Firsts” and has decided to woosah and switch it up. She is learning how to navigate and cope without mom her way.
3 ways T’Mil will cope during the holiday without mom:
1. Treat yourself
I am going to buy myself a gift. I usually would have whatever my mom’s Christmas wish list completed; let me pause and say she was easy and to the point, so it wasn’t hard buying for her. It really feels weird not doing that, and I didn’t realize it until I had to return something I had just purchased days before she transitioned, because why would I keep some Elizabeth Taylor perfume? Lol! So, I’m going to treat myself for a change. Not sure with what exactly, but it will be something that cannot be intertwined with work. That’s usually how I mask spending on myself. Lol!
2. Spend time alone
I’m choosing to spend Christmas Day alone. Outside of it being the first one without her, I threw myself into work mode after she died. From planning the services with my siblings to running the service as if it were a production I signed on to do. With my mom being in the music industry also, everything had to be as close to perfect as she would have executed it herself. Then honoring her wishes if eulogizing her? Yeah, work mode if so kind. So being able to just be—no work, no obligations, no distractions, etc.— on my road to learning life without her. Now this isn’t a hard thing because I’m an introvert (INTJ to be exact) so recharging, and alone time is necessary for me to show up and be as close to 100% as possible.
3. Be kind to yourself
I’m choosing to be kind to T’Mil this holiday season. My mom’s death has taught me how to cheer for myself since my biggest cheerleader is now gone. I mean, ever since her transition in August, I’ve been afforded some major wins in my book and slowing down to celebrate them without immediately moving on to what’s next is key. That’s not to say there aren’t people in my life who celebrate me, because there are. I’m simply saying that I’m making sure I do it for myself. I shake my pom-poms for everyone else so it’s time to learn cheer routines for T’Mil.
When a loved one passes life changes forever – something we have no control. We can only control our response. Don’t let anyone tell you what you “ought” to do or what is “required” of you. Those close to you will understand and be there for you. Even if it’s to sit quietly with you and hold your hand.