Ever heard someone say “Christmas is the best time of year because it’s happy”? I think not. Sure, there are plenty of great things about the holiday season: thoughtful gifts, parties with friends and family, snow days off work but let’s be real.
It can also be an incredibly difficult time to go through personally. For example, the holidays may remind you of loved ones who have passed away or they may just bring up memories that are hard to process.
I experienced this recently. As I was buying my daughter’s winter clothing, I found that I couldn’t find a pair of long, wool stockings to fit her. Her grandmother passed away on Thanksgiving last year and she was the one who always knit them for her over the years.
That memory hit me so hard that while standing in line at the cash register I had to fight back tears, which is definitely not something you want to do while standing in line at a busy mall with a five year old.
Here are some points discussed-
1. Be mindful of what your surroundings are saying.
It is important to be aware of what you are seeing and experiencing. For example, if you are looking at holiday décor and it’s making you sad, then look away or turn off the TV. If listening to Christmas music makes you think of a loved one who has passed away, then just skip it.
You may think that getting lost in holiday activities will distract you from your troubles but actually the opposite may happen as it is too hard to keep from thinking about your loved one in these moments.
2. Have a plan for each day so that you know what to expect.
Each day of the holiday season is a new chance to start the grieving process. It’s important to remember the dates of when loved ones have passed and on each day it is okay to do what you need to just so that you can grieve properly.
For example, on Christmas I felt like I was going mad with all of the preparations and shopping that had to be done. The memories started flooding back to me as I stood in line with my daughter in a crowded mall and so instead of waiting until I got home, we went out for ice cream instead.
3. Start small.
It is always difficult to start a new exercise program but you know that if you just start going to the gym 3 times a week then eventually this will become a part of your life. Start the same way with grieving.
4. Find time for yourself.
This is especially important if you have kids or work full time. You may not have time to really mourn and grieve on your own but it’s okay to have one day or an hour a week where you can just be alone without anyone around to interrupt or pressure you into making decisions that aren’t important.
You should have time to be able to think about your loved one and just reflect on why you miss them so much.
5. Allow yourself to feel sad and also allow yourself to feel happy.
Your loved one wouldn’t want you to be unhappy always but they also want you to move on with your life and not be stuck in the past forever.
They would want you to find the joy in things once again so it’s okay if sometimes you do get caught up in the times where you just miss them so much and cry for hours, but don’t forget that there are other good things in life as well. Tomorrow is another day and it is a new chance for change.
6. Don’t be afraid to ask for help.
It is always important to have friends and family members who you can talk to about your feelings and circumstances and it’s okay to tell them that you need some extra time with them or even a distraction from the holidays so that you are not spending all of your time thinking about the past and being sad all the time.
7. Remember that it’s okay to feel sad and bad.
There were two big movers into my life this Christmas season, my daughter and my boyfriend. They both reminded me how much I love them even when I wasn’t really ready to see it, which is a great thing.
It’s okay to feel sad and have these feelings, especially if you are not doing anything else or dealing with another issue in your life that keeps you from being able to grieve properly all of the time.