Whether you’ve experienced a divorce, the end of a friendship or the loss of a loved one, the holidays can make the missing even more painful. Instead of feeling jolly, a pasted smile with a sense of dread and sadness is the norm. Those that have never encountered this type of a heart ache just won’t get it, but those that have, it can be debilitating.
Whether the loss happened ten years ago, or two weeks ago, it hurts and the void of that presence during the holidays can be painful beyond words. Friends and family may think that they are helping with suggestions like: “Oh, just come on out, you will feel better!”, or “It’s been so long ago, can’t you just move on?” and for those who’ve lost someone to the Other Side, “Well, they are in a better place!” but it just doesn’t heal the situation. You can’t return it back to the way that it was, but you can heal. We each choose our attitude. We each choose our mood. We each choose to take steps forward (or backwards), even if tiny ones.
I can still remember my mom crying every holiday, but especially at Christmas. She had lost both of her brothers, her mom and then her dad. She felt orphaned. And although she had my dad, me and my brother and sister, we could never take away her sadness, nor did she have any energy to work on healing it. When her family was alive, our Christmas Eve’s were filled with laughter, family, good food and happiness – but the losses turned what had been such a fun and joyful day into one that felt contrived and forced. Mom’s tears fell easily and her heart never did emotionally heal. After all these years, I can still feel torn about Christmas. As a child I sorely wanted to feel the holiday magic, but I knew that the magic was dulled with losses and much sadness. I tried to be the cheerleader, but it got tiring. And then when I experienced my own losses, my spark dulled until I took the time to restore it and I couldn’t be there for everyone else.
This Thanksgiving was not the happiest for me. Hurtful words and conflicts that brought up wounds from many years past that I thought I had healed (when I actually had only patched) sent me in a depression reminiscent of my mom. And then the hurt from those passed made me sad, despite my ability to communicate with them – it wasn’t the same as a big hug in the physical. As I laid there with my hurt feelings and resentment, my pillow soaked with tears, I looked up at my husband who was attempting to console me, I knew right then and there that I couldn’t allow the tarnish to set in. Not for my husband, not for my kids, but most importantly not for me. After a few days, I was noticing a downhill spiral and everything that I was touching, doing or the people I was interacting with was matching my mood and it wasn’t good. So I realized that:
- I needed to FEEL, be it from crying or expressing it in some way, shape or form
- I needed to GRIEVE, but not stay enwrapped in the sadness.
- I needed to GIVE, but not allow myself to be used.
- I needed to LOVE, but not be abused.
- I needed to TRUST, but not be naïve.
- I needed to LISTEN, but not lose myself.
- I needed to set BOUNDARIES and come up with a plan.
So I put together a healing plan to help me, but I hope it helps you too.
5 Ways to Celebrate the Holidays When Missing Someone
Set a Positive Trigger
When you start feeling sad, have a happy go-to. It could be putting on a movie that always makes you laugh, playing a song that makes you smile, visiting a place that makes you feel good, etc.
Pay It Forward
When we help others, and see them smile back, it makes us feel good too. There are numerous ways to do this!
- Pay for the order of the car behind you.
- Put change in an empty parking meter.
- Bake cookies and gift them to a neighbor, your doctor’s office, co-workers, the church, etc.
- Clean out your closet and donating them to a worthy cause.
- Write a book review and post it on Amazon (believe me – the author will be very grateful).
- Volunteer at an animal shelter or nursing home.
- Smile at a stranger.
- Shovel a neighbor’s walk.
Create a New Tradition
Whether you went through a divorce/break-up or had a death, so often it is the void of that person within the tradition that brings out the pain. So often we think that the pain we encounter by keeping the tradition is worth it, but in the end it us who suffers. Create a new tradition – whether it is the food, the decorations or even the location the festivities are held. Freshen up the festivities.
Don’t Ignore the Pain
This may sound counterproductive from what I previously said, but by ignoring it, you are only allowing it to one day surface and when it does, the mountain will be even larger.
- If the person is alive, depending upon the situation, you might tell them you are upset, or simply write them a letter and rip it up. So often once we write it down we see that nothing can be solved by our words, but the release helps to heal.
- If the person has passed, write them a letter or simply talk to them. They hear you. Believe me.
- Talk about the person you are missing. Find the happy memories, the ones that made you laugh.
Include Those Who Have Passed
During the time I was sad, Chuck (my husband) and I decided to take a drive. We stopped at a small Christmas store and there in the window was a lantern like my mom used to collect and I knew that I had to have it. The lady lovingly wrapped it up for me as I told her that it reminded me of my mom who had passed away and as I went to give her my credit card, she simply shook her head, smiled and handed me the bag – “A gift from me and your mom,” she said to me as tears formed in my eyes. Not only did I feel close to my mom at that moment, my faith was restored in people. The lantern sits right next to me as I write to remind me of many things that are far more important than any object. Visit the places that remind me of your loved one, maybe even buy a gift for them during the holidays (donate or keep it), or set a place at the table for them. They miss you just as much as we miss them and they want to be included.
Missing during the holidays is natural and it is important to communicate your emotions instead of avoiding. It is then that healing comes.
From my home to yours, wishing you a very happy holiday with happy memories and healing.
Snowflakes From the heavens fall, a gift from your loved ones, as unique as you, angelic blessings.