an anchor for your heart: surviving the holiday season

Over the next few weeks, I want to explore the holidays – what it’s like for grieving people, how friends or family might help, and what to do to help yourself survive this season with at least a little peace.

I was at the hardware store yesterday, looking for materials to install a dryer vent in the basement. Standing there looking at all of the options, I recognized the song coming through the sound system – Blue Christmas. It’s only in the last few years that these big hardware stores have stopped being relentlessly painful for me, but hearing that song brought me back to my own early days of grief.

I thought of how many people in that store were just white knuckling through their errands, trying to get in and out of the store without crying so hard they couldn’t see – and how cruel that song must feel.

It’s true any time of year, but the melancholy, piped-in holiday music is really an over-the-top emotional reminder of all that is lost – all that was, and all that is not now. Even for me, at well over 8 years now since Matt’s death, hearing that music lit up a deep sadness – that Matt has never seen this new house of mine, isn’t here to install the &*()^%(#! dryer vent, will not be coming around the corner of the aisle at the hardware store with some new power tool he wants to buy.

So I did what I could do – with my own sadness, with the knowledge of how much sadness there is all around us, that invisible stream of longing and grief that pervades all of these public spaces – I looked for beauty, and spread it where I could.

Between grief, the holiday season, and things generally falling apart - finding something to anchor your heart is important. Beauty helps. So does the ~right~ companionship. Click To Tweet

There is so much hardship in this life, for so many different people, for so many different reasons. When all feels lost, the only thing I really know to do is look for beauty. Not to fix anything, not to gloss over the hardship, but to lay down alongside whatever hurts. The presence of beauty doesn’t magically remove all pain, but I do know that the absence of beauty makes things a lot harder to bear.

When things feel hard, I often try to find something beautiful to act as an anchor – for my thoughts, for my mind, for my heart. Sometimes it can shift a mood, but mostly, it gives me something to hold onto when the world feel overwhelmingly dark or sad. I feel like beauty is really my best ally.

One of the ways we’re stitching beauty into the world together is through the Grief Love Letters campaign. It’s so amazing to see my book and your letters going out into the world. Soon, with enough of us doing this work, we might even start to see some posts from people who have found the book, with notes as to what it’s meant to them. I’m really looking forward to that. It’s easy to be part of this particular revolution. All the information (and a video invitation!) is at this link.

Continuing with the theme, in this week’s episode of the Astral Hustle, host Cory Allen and I talk about beauty and grief – how it can act as a companion to all that hurts. Somehow, that makes things different. Not better, necessarily, but different. Look for episode #108.

So this is my wish for you this week, this season, this life – that you find small pockets of beauty to companion you, inside this life you didn’t ask for. And let us know in the comments – what beauty means for you, and how (or if) you find it a companion. Oh – and if you’d like to find that “right companionship” I mentioned above, check out the Writing Your Grief community. The 30 day course is your gateway to a vast community of awesome humans, all doing the best they can to companion their own hearts, and yours. Get started at this link.