The holidays are here. It’s a time of family, friends, closeness and gratitude. But if you’ve lost a loved one this past year, the forthcoming festivities can bring on anxiety. Not only are you in your grieving process, but now there’s pressure to be jovial and celebratory. Watching people around you raise a glass can bring on feelings of sadness, even anger. How can everyone be so happy when your loved one is gone?
No matter how you feel right now, the holidays have a beginning, middle and end. If you’ve lost someone or know someone who has, here 3 ways to go through this holiday season with grace.
Be gentle with yourself (and others)
Keep the pressure to celebrate low. You don’t have to show up to every single party, dinner invite and holiday show. You don’t have to put in hours at the mall for anyone’s perfect present. If it’s gift cards this year, that’s fine. This is not going to be a “normal” year, so let yourself stay home when you need to. Don’t plan any big tasks, like remodeling or hosting ten relatives. Keep things super simple and don’t be afraid to reach out to friends and let them know you are having a hard time. It’s a season of giving, but this year you need to be on the receiving end of a lot of love.
Tell the person you miss how you feel
This is someone you’ve shared your life with for a long time. Just because they are not in the physical world doesn’t mean you don’t have a relationship with them, still. Write a card to your loved one. Tell them what’s been happening since you’ve seen them. Tell them the jokes you would have shared. Get upset! They should have stayed around longer! Most of all, tell them how much you loved and cherished them. By expressing your love, you are being healed by it. Honor the relationship, don’t let it end. This is just a new phase.
Go into the joy — it’s there too!
The holidays can feel like life under a magnifying glass. We up the importance of these few weeks each year. Every season brings memories from other seasons, other occasions. We are walking through the same time, only everyone’s older and there are some new people, too. The truth that life goes on is more astounding with each year (and each event) we live through. You have lived through this loss and are here, still breathing. So find the joy of your own breath, your own skin, your own laughter. Return to the things you loved as a child – sledding, baking cookies, anything that brings you a smile.
Whatever you experience this year, remember: everything is temporary. You will feel different in a few months, maybe even in a few hours! Let the people who love you comfort you, and when you can, count your blessings. At the top of your list this year? The gift of sharing your love with the one who has passed on. Toast them with a glass of eggnog and drink your fill.
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