The holidays are not always cheery and bright. While there are people who can’t wait until Christmas tunes start playing on the radio and decorations get hung around the house, the reality is that the holidays can hold a lot of weight and pain for a lot of people. This can be for a lot of reasons, including simply, the implied pressure around the holidays for things to be happy and good. However, the holidays can be especially challenging when you are dealing with grief and loss.
I’ll be honest, the holidays are not a time of the year I look forward to, as they hold a lot of painful memories from my childhood. When I was very young, I lost 3 grandparents in 3 years. And to top that off, both of grandfather died at Christmastime. One right after Christmas, and one right before. The turmoil of a funeral days before Christmas is not a happy way to bring a family together, and family drama reaches whole new heights when death is involved. Before my grandparents passed, we had big, magical family Christmases, surrounded by cousins, yummy food, and fun. After they passed, Christmas was never quite the same. My Cousins stopped coming to visit for the holidays, and what once had been so full of family, and yummy smells, and happy memories, was replaced with quiet, and a lot of memories I didn’t want to think about. So, how do you get through the holidays without going insane? Here are my best tips:
1- Breathe - When you have a moment that feels heavy, breathe. Take a moment to ground yourself where you are, look at the things around you. Find 3 things you can see, two things you can touch, and 1 thing you can smell. Feel the ground under your feet, and breathe through whatever feelings come up.
2- Find the things you can enjoy - maybe overall you feel crummy, and wish you could just skip the whole holiday season. But, I bet there is at least one thing you can find to enjoy. Maybe it’s as simple as a holiday drink you treat yourself to, like hot apple cider, or your favorite Christmas cookie. Maybe it’s the sound of snow crunching under your feet. Maybe it’s the smell of wood-burning fireplaces. Whatever it is, find those things, and allow yourself to really enjoy them.
3- It’s ok to not be 100% happy- Give yourself permission to grieve. There can be a lot of pressure for things to be good, or happy during the holidays. Take a deep breath and let yourself off the hook. It’s okay to feel whatever you are feeling right now. Give yourself permission to cry if you need to cry, to be angry if you are, and to give yourself time to feel your feelings up and out. If you push them down, you will just be more anxious, and they won’t pass. Feel them up and out. Take a moment to express those feelings in a healthy way. If you are grieving a specific loss, taking the time to process that specifically is healthy as well. Missing someone just means that you loved them, and that love remains. It’s nothing to be ashamed of. Taking time to honor those connections is totally healthy. It’s ok if none of your usual traditions are honored. Take time to do the things that make you feel peace, and create new memories where you can.
4- Take time with God - Whatever this means for you. For me, it is morning prayer, bible reading, and singing worship songs. When my heart is the heaviest, sometimes sitting at the piano and signing a worship tune is the only thing that will lift my spirits and my hopes. But this can also mean taking time in nature to appreciate the beauty that is around you even in the midst of the pain. Just know that God can take your pain, your hurt, and your anger. He sees your heart, He loves you, and He weeps with you in your grief. Don’t be afraid to talk to him about it. Even if talking to him means yelling and getting angry. If David was afraid to express his feelings or anger to God, we wouldn’t have the psalms. Just let his peace cover you as well.
5- Reach out - When you are feeling sad, or grieving, it can be really hard to reach out to other people, or to get out and going. It;s easy to want to process feelings alone, and rest a lot. The cold weather can make this a lot easier to do as well. There is nothing wrong with taking time for yourself, and if you are surrounded by people constantly, this is very important as well, so you can do the above tips! But, if you are feeling like staying curled up in bed every day, and find that you’ve isolated yourself from friends and the outside world, take a leap and get out, and reach out. Getting some sunshine, even if it is freezing is important. And connecting with friends and loved ones, even when you don’t feel like it at all is healing, and it is bonding as well. Good friendships deepen when you are honest in your hurt and allow others to be there with you. Spending time with friends can also be a break from the hurt and wash of the holidays. Maybe what you need is a good distraction from everything you’re feeling, so you can enjoy a moment of fun, a good conversation, a walk, or just a laugh with a friend. Laughter is medicine for the soul, and friends are a comforting salve.
The holidays are a mix of emotions, for many people, and this year, I hope you know you’re not alone in it. “The Lord is close to the brokenhearted; He rescues those whose spirits are crushed.” Lean into Him, and know, the holidays, and the pain will be over soon. Though we may face troubles and pain, God is still a God who brings beauty out of the ashes, and takes things, even meant for evil, and turns them for our good. If you are hurting right now, the story isn’t over.
#griefsymptoms #griefquotes #complicatedgrief #griefanddepression #Traumasymptoms #learningtobelieveagain #effectsoftrauma #believeagain #howtodealwithtrauma #howtodealwithgrief #howtodealwithacrisisoffaith #howtodealwithdepression #howtodealwiththeholidays #holidays #5tipsfordealingwiththeholidays #5tips #5tipsfordealingwithgriefduringtheholidays