The holiday season is about togetherness and being surrounded by loved ones, but sometimes that also means having to deal with loss. No one understands that more than Wynonna Judd, who is navigating her first holiday season since the loss of her mother and musical partner, Naomi, in April.
“It has rocked my foundation in a way I can’t describe at times and then other times I’m relieved that the pain has stopped,” she said of Naomi’s death in conversation with grief specialist David Kessler.
In their talk about dealing with grief over the holidays, Wynonna described feeling “resentful” of the picturesque families having their perfect holidays in the commercials that are broadcast this time of year.
She explained having to host her first Thanksgiving dinner without her mother, a celebration she postponed for another day. “Thanksgiving Day sucked,” she told Kessler transparently, recalling all the tears and the feelings she gave herself permission to have on the actual day. “It was painful.”
Wynonna expressed her struggle, saying, “I was stuck on Thanksgiving. I think it’s because of the shame and the guilt around suicide that I was stuck … I felt so surrounded by sadness and I was just stranded on an island by myself. I just thought I was gonna go crazy and I didn’t do anything about it other than just sit there and go ‘let it ebb and flow.'”
She described taking steps like celebrating Thanksgiving on a different day, letting go of being “the hostess with the mostest,” and asking for help from others all made her feel better. “Of course, that [peace] lasted for all of 38 minutes, and then I went into panic,” she said. “Because I realized something, and that is that I’m now the matriarch. And I think the pressure of that alone was like, ‘Oh my gosh, my mom isn’t here this year.'”
When dealing with grief during what is supposed to be “the most wonderful time of the year,” Kessler gave several tips for navigating the holiday season. His advice includes not getting hung up on what other people are doing and the perceived perfection of someone else’s holiday, letting the holiday just be another day and letting go and giving someone else the reins. He also gave tools for navigating this trying time, but in discussing her own grief, Kessler reminded Wynonna, “The pain is part of the love.”