It’s that time of the year again, time for joy, laughter, family and good times.
It’s time to rejoice, be excited and look forward to the many family gatherings, cheerful visits and love that is all around us.
For some, yes. For others, no.
For many, it’s the complete opposite. It’s a time of isolation, loneliness, and a lot of sadness and grief.
For them, it’s a time of wanting it to be all over: the holidays, the craziness of this season and unfortunately for some, they want their suffering to end.
It’s not an easy time so how can one navigate it all?
There are countless books and resources available online. This topic is one that is of extreme importance so you will find that there are people to help.
1. Acknowledge how you are feeling
What you are experiencing and feeling is real. The more you try to hide it, the worse it will become. Rather than try to force the feelings away or pretend they are not real, acknowledge that they are in fact real and showing up for a reason.
Our feelings are a guide to what is going on in our lives. They are there to serve as a compass, a guide as we navigate through our lives. If we ignore our own internal compass, we most certainly will find ourselves navigating way off course.
Instead, acknowledge that what you are feeling is real. And it’s ok.
It’s ok to feel the way you feel.
2. It’s ok to feel the way you feel
We often think that because it’s the holidays, we should all be merry and bright. Not true. For many of us, it’s a time of reflection, a time of looking at our lives and noticing that things are not right, that people we love are missing and gone and that there’s a deep sense of loneliness and loss.
We fight those feelings every day and at this time of the year, it’s far worse.
Know that what you are feeling is ok. And that you don’t have to suffer through it alone.
3. You do not have to go through it alone
There are many people who are ready, willing and able to help you. You do not have to do it alone!
Since you are online, do a search for “Holiday Grief Support” and your city’s name and you will undoubtedly find local resources to help you. Here in Ottawa, I found several that are all running programs, have telephone numbers to call, or have resources available to download.
You will find similar resources in your city. If you still would like assistance, ask your local church, synagogue, resource centres, hospitals, hospice and retirement homes, funeral homes, and local crisis centres.
My colleague and friend, Ann Leach encourages us to have what she calls the Spider Web of Support. Think of 5 people you could talk to openly when you’re feeling down. It might be a best friend or a counselor or a minister…write down their names and numbers. Then, when times are tough, if one person is busy you can move down the list to the next one who will listen. (Ann is also open to you reaching out to her.)
Remember, what you are feeling is real. It’s ok to be feeling the way you are feeling. Those feelings are there to help and guide you. Listen, pay attention and acknowledge. And remember, you do not have to do it alone.
Stress, Depression and the Holidays: Tips for Coping – The Mayo Clinic
Grief & the Holidays: A Survival Guide – Good Grief Center
Book: A Decembered Grief: Living with Loss While Others Are Celebrating by Harold Ivan Smith
Book: Healing Your Holiday Grief: 100 Practical Ideas for Blending Mourning and Celebration During the Holiday Season by Alan D. Wolfelt, PhD