The Holidays for Those Who Are Grieving
I know, it’s supposed to be the most wonderful time of the year, right? Well, it may be for some, but not all. For some, it reminds us of the hurt or loss of someone or something, even. It may be the first holiday season where someone feels this way or it may be a repeat of other holidays.
Last year, I felt completely lost, and went through the motions. It was tough, particularly in a year when we all experienced some type of loss. I didn’t see family nor did I want to see family. It was easier for me to stay home with my husband, and wallow in my sadness. That’s exactly what I needed, and that is what I did. I didn’t spend time with family nor did I want to spend time with family. It was tough to see people happy, and wait for them to say something insensitive (it happens more than you think until you experience it yourself).
As we come up on another holiday season I am reminded how close I feel to what I did last year… but different. This year reminds me that my sisters Erin and Kim are gone, and in a sense life has gone on. My brother-in-law needs to continue with his life, relationships made through my sister’s marriage have changed, and my family will never be the same. As we get closer to the end of the year, I think of this everyday. These thoughts that enter my mind each day, make me think of everyone else who is grieving or grieves during the holiday season.
The goal with this article is to share some thoughts that may be helpful.
Let the holidays be what the are. They are joyful times for some, painful for others. It’s important to let them be what they are to you and others, and release yourself and others from any other expectation that may hang over your head. You can’t force yourself to feel a certain way nor can you expect certain behavior or comments from others.
Expect different feelings. You may feel one thing or expect to feel one thing, and you may feel something else. It may be different on different day or even moments. Grieve is different for everyone, and changes over time. Grief is a mix of emotions, evolves and is complicated. It is hard to anticipate so don’t judge yourself or think you need to respond or feel a certain way. You don’t.
Be kind to yourself. Maybe you feel bad for “having another challenging holiday” or you find yourself enjoying certain activities or moments. Whatever it may be, don’t be hard on yourself for feeling this way. Remember, grieving is your own personal journey, and you have to let grief manifest itself the way that wants. Instead of avoiding or suppressing what you’re feeling, experience it.
Leaning into my emotions that encompass my grief has allowed me to find my moments of joy and sadness throughout the holidays. Most importantly it has allowed me to just be, and take off pressure to act or behave in certain ways. I hope you can lean into yours so the holidays can be what they need to be for you.