This year, the holidays are going to be different for everyone across the country. We will all experience a change in routines and traditions of the season because of Covid. So this year, there is something unifying for all of us in that the holidays won’t be the same. But even more than that, this is the case for those who face a hard holiday season because of a deep loss and grief in their lives.
In May of 2013, my son passed away. Later that year, I came to learn just how hard the holidays can really be. I had always been a big holidays person, and I always brought that big Christmas energy, but the year my son died, it changed so much. My world was different.
Life was hard, and I had to learn how to handle when the holidays are hard too.
Hard can be so many things. Hard can be having lost a loved one sometime in the last year and celebrating your first Christmas without them. For some people, the holidays are hard every year after losing one they love. While I am able to once again find great joy in the holiday season, there is always a piece of my heart and my family that is missing each year. The simplicity with which I knew life before losing my son is gone forever. For some, hard is a break up or a divorce. For some it is a strained relationship with a parent, child, sibling, or someone else they love. For some it is losing a job. For others it may be sickness that lingers through this season. This year, hard may be having to quarantine over Christmas and being isolated through it all. There are so many kinds of hard.
For those of you who are going through hard times this holiday season, I want to share with you some encouragement. Since I had not walked through hard before, I didn’t know what to expect or what to do. I wish I had had someone to walk with me and give me some advice. So today I am sharing that with you, and giving you permission to be gentle with yourself when the holidays are hard.
- Be good to yourself. Self-care is not selfish. Take time for yourself. Whether it’s sitting in the quiet, watching a movie, reading, or just having extra time to rest or have space each day, be good to yourself.
- It’s OK to say no. You can say no to an event, a gathering, sending cards, parties, whatever it may be that is just too much for this year. It’s ok to do that. In fact, this year, many things are canceled anyway, but for anything that isn’t, know you can say no.
- Take time to grieve. Don’t brush it off. Don’t rush through it. Acknowledge your grief. Acknowledge what is hard and sad. Acknowledge how you feel. Take time to do this. It’s important.
- Find a highlight. Is there something you’re looking forward to? If so, put your energy into that. It’s nice to have something to look forward to. Maybe it’s nothing like usual — this year is so different, after all. But find something that would bring you joy and do it.
- Remember hope. While we can’t go back to the way things were last year and things may never be the same, we are never without hope.