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 don’t understand, but those that have, know that it can be debilitating. Whether the loss happened years ago or two weeks ago, the hurt is there, although it may dull over time, but in an often unexpected way the void is noticed and the sadness pours to cause the wound like vinegar on an open sore.
It’s normal to mourn even years later, especially during the holidays when it can be extra painful. 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’re in a better place!” but it seldom doesn’t heal the situation. Although you can’t return it back to the way that it was, you can heal, even if just slowly.
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 and she felt orphaned. 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 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 too. But over the years, I’ve taken the time to restore it. Not just for my family, but for me.
This year, for us, have been filled with a lot of changes – good and bad, losses and gains. Some are communicated through my newsletters and social media, but most are private. I believe that honesty might not win you friends or clients, but it will make sure that the right ones are around you. So as I settled down to write about the cheer of the holidays, my cheer felt partly cloudy. Then I did some of my own soul-work and vision boarding. It doesn’t mean that the cloudiness won’t come back, or the sadness will completely evaporate – but I believe that making the strides, even the small ones, helps keep you from being under the storm. We each choose our attitude. We each choose our mood. We each choose to take steps forward (or backwards), even if tiny ones.
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
- 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
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 a special ornament. Set a place at the table for them. They miss you just as much as we miss them and they want to be included. When I’m baking and cooking my mom or grandma’s recipes, I invite them in to help. I talk to them while I’m cooking and play my mom’s favorite songs.
Missing during the holidays is natural and it is important to communicate your emotions instead of avoiding. It’s okay to cry. It is then that healing comes.
From my home to yours, wishing you a magical holiday and new year!