It starts earlier every year it seems. Holiday decorations hit the shelves even before Halloween has come and gone. As though you need more reminders that the holidays are coming. Looming.
This time of year adds an extra measure of pain to people already bearing more than they can, more than they should ever have to. There is the empty seat at the table, the heaviness of all the ways the one you love is missing, traditions that have gone flat, smacking against the empty place.
Death, illness, massive life events – they all sour the season in ways those outside your loss can’t understand.
Whether you’ve always loved the holidays, or avoided them as best you could, the first several seasons after a loss or big life event can well and truly suck. So many people want to make this a “good” holiday for you. Part of your family wants traditions to stay exactly the same, others want to change everything. Conflicting desires, broken hearts, lots of attention when you’d rather just hide in your blanket fort until the whole thing is over – it’s too much.
Given that this season is going to be rough, how will you survive? Here are some of my holiday survival rules from my own early days:
Another way to find companionship during the holidays (or any ordinary day) is with my guided journal for grief: How to Carry What Can’t Be Fixed is a safe place to let your grief take up the space it needs. With writing prompts to help you honor your pain & heartbreak, on-the-spot practices for tough situations (e.g. grocery store trips, sleepless nights, grief landmines, & being the “awkward guest”), practical advice for handling big emotions & uncomfortable questions, and so much more—this journal isn’t like any other.
The holidays are going to hurt, my love. That is just reality. Whether you are missing someone who should be part of the festivities, or you are missing someone who shared your love of quiet acknowledgement over raucous partying, this season will add some to your grief.
Please remember, whatever you choose to do (or not do) this holiday season, staying true to yourself is important. Companion yourself. Care for yourself. Listen to yourself. Reach out where it feels good to reach, curl in when that is what you need. Make this season as much of a comfort to you as you can.
Struggling through the holidays sucks. Please share this post in your online communities. Every day, more people enter the world of grief. Sharing this post helps them find the support they need. Let’s make our love and support, our companionship inside grief, really easy to find. Click the share buttons at the bottom of the post.
How about you? What are some things you find useful for getting through the holidays? What is your biggest challenge coming into this season? If the holidays are no longer particularly hard for you, can you look back and see what helped? Let us know in the comments.