I’ve previously mentioned that December can be a rough month, for many of us, myself included. Today I want to share another reason that December feels rough for me. I am sharing this to speak openly about the intergenerational trauma historic events created for me, and in turn, the importance for me personally to grieve in December.
What happened in December
Time for a very quick history lesson. There was a massacre of Nanjing (formerly the capital of China) in 1937, followed by the occupation of Hong Kong in 1941 during WWII. These have created intergenerational trauma and have created a personal need to grieve and heal during December.
December 13th is Nanjing Massacre Commemorative Day, to recognize the atrocities committed to the Chinese people in Nanjing during that time.
It is a day on which we remember both the mass murder of hundreds of thousands of soldiers, as well as the horrific gender-based violence committed against 20,000-80,000 women, teens and girls, over six weeks in 1937. Thank goodness for a few international folks who stayed behind to help (and report and record what happened there).
And then there was the occupation of Hong Kong which began on a December 18th a few years later; while it was less focused on gender-based violence, this occupation directly affected my family, some of which experienced this violence personally, and by witnessing racial violence in the streets, above and beyond the broader cultural, intergenerational trauma.
Both sets of events began in mid-December (Dec 13, 1937 and 18, 1941, respectively).
I won’t say more because this is all really heavy, atrocious stuff, as is all violence.* What I will say is that this is a month that I both love for its festivities, and also mourn for intergenerational grief.
Why am I talking about this?
We don’t all necessarily have this specific type of grieve to honour this time of year, but many of us do have something that needs the space and compassion that grief allows.
The point is, if you need space to grieve for whatever reason this month, grieve. No matter who tells you to slap a smile on your face and be pleasant because “it’s the holidays” or because “it’s family” – please also honour and take care of your own wellbeing. No one else can do that for you.
In the meantime, I prepare to honour my Chinese ancestors as I always do on the winter solstice. And part of preparing is to allow grief. That’s okay for me, and it’s okay for you, too.
If December is hard for you
If December is hard for you too – and it doesn’t matter why – here are some other blog posts from the past few years with empowering tools to help you:
If you want to learn more about these historical topics, I suggest starting with the book on “Nanking” (with a “k”) by Iris Chang. You can also read an article from the Globe and Mail here.