December 21, 2016
For the final chapter of the “A Speedy, Grumpy, Dreadful Christmas” series, I must address those of us who may be down in the dumps this holiday season, because this year: “This is NOT how I want it.”
For many people the holidays are a time to join together, celebrate with the ones you love, and reflect back on the year…yet for many others this time can be incredibly difficult.
For anyone who has experienced loss, the holidays can be a painful reminder of what once was, but no longer is.
Loss is certainly not just reserved for those who have a loved one who crossed over to spirit. Any major shift or change in one’s life may present a feeling of grief or loss. Children grow up, families split up, divorce, friends move away, work changes, financial issues, life struggles…really any life event can shift this time of year from how you once knew it to be into an unrecognizable and uncomfortable time of year.
There is no way around it, change is hard. Even if the change is overall something positive, the ripple effect of the change can still be a challenge. Think about the birth of a new baby- quite the joyous occasion, however the new responsibilities inevitably create a ripple effect of change where there may be a loss somewhere else in your life.
Change is even harder when you are faced with times that are heavily seeped in tradition, such as the holidays. The traditions create an extra tug and pull to keep things the same, making an even greater resistance to being open to the new.
If you are experiencing a change that has lead you to the “This is NOT how I want it” camp, you are far from alone. Many are grieving something or someone this holiday season. Grief is especially challenging in the face of “holiday cheer” and words like “jolly” and “merry” and “bright” and “the best time of the year”…
I am currently working with several clients who are grieving a loss or a change this holiday season. My first, first, first, step is always to honor the grief. Allow it to be there. Allow the tears, allow the sadness, allow the memories, allow the heart hurts. Allow yourself the time to honor your feelings. This may be in large chunks of time, or may be small bits of time each day. Follow your heart, follow your intuition. Your body knows what it needs, so allow it to tell you want is going to be best for you. Self-care is absolutely number one on the list when you are grieving.
I am often asked “Should I decorate? Should I put up a tree? I don’t feel like it, but should I do it anyway?” Always trust yourself, trust your own feelings about it. There is no right or wrong way to grieve. Your process is your process it. The more you honor it and allow it to be, the easier it will be to move through it.
Once the grief is honored, or a good amount of time has passed from the original loss, I often offer the idea of new traditions being started. When we have a “This is NOT how I want it” situation, my offering is “given what is, how do we make this better for you? How can we make this something enjoyable again?” That is not always an easy answer to find, but the question is quite important to ask yourself. We all know we cannot change the loss that has happened, however, is there a way you can honor it? Can you start a new memorial tradition?
Often times, the pain of grief stays longer when we try to hold it in, deny it, or pretend we don’t feel it. What if you are the one that offers a new tradition to honor a loved one at the dinner table or recalling fun stories of that person as part of a new tradition? Additionally, what if you are the one who brings up the topic, offer support to someone who has experienced a loss? Perhaps you can reach out and let them know you are thinking of them, acknowledging their grief.
My number one compliant from those who have had a loss is feeling like their friends are sick of hearing about it and feeling like everyone has moved on when they are still grieving. Do not be scared to acknowledge someone who is having a hard time. Yes, they may start crying. Crying is good, healthy, and an important emotional release. Most will be more relieved that you acknowledged their journey, even if they have an upheaval of emotions come up. Acknowledging what is, is better then pretending it isn’t. Pretending and denying only lead to continued pain and inhibit healing.
If your grief shows up due to a divorce or a hard financial year or your children are now grown and spending time with their own children, how can you shift this time into an opportunity to explore a whole new side of the holidays for you? Once you have honored your feelings about the change, perhaps this is time to explore things you never had done before.. new recipes… new quiet time.. new movies.. spending time in new ways with those who are important to you… or maybe you decide to volunteer or buy gifts for those in need….
No matter what this holiday season brings, honoring your own particular journey is key.
I have one final offering to all of you this holiday season:
Whether you were one of the “speedy’s” …or “grumpy’s”.. or “dreadful’s”.. or perhaps you were one of the “cheerful’s,” now is a time, just like any, to be grateful. Gratitude is a powerful tool any day, any time of the year, and can be particularly useful now as so many are experiencing struggle.
Perhaps you start a new gratitude tradition this year!
I know I am grateful for you, clients and readers, who continue to motivate me to be mindful and thoughtful each week!
Thank you, thank you!
Wishing you much peace as 2016 closes … and looking forward to many new things for 2017!