Holidaze and Grief

It’s Beginning to Look a Lot like Christmas, and when Christmas Time is Here, it can be very hard for some folks.

Whether you are Driving Home for Christmas, flying somewhere, or staying put, you are bound to notice Christmas Lights everywhere, lighting the way for Santa Baby to stop by. Whether you are expecting a Holly Jolly Christmas or not, the mere thought of the « holidaze » can really shake us up!

People can endure a fair bit of loss, whether it be from the changes we’ve experienced since Last Christmas, or due to multiple changes in our familiar Christmas patterns (customs and traditions) over the course of many years. We may have been forced to face the loss of not being able to visit with a distant loved one, and distance can be emotional or physical. Perhaps they have a health challenge of some sort that prevents them from being present with you in body, mind, or spirit.

Maybe you face the pain of an empty chair at the table due to divorce or death. Whatever the reason for the loss, the natural reaction of grief is completely normal, but yet we may not know quite what to do with feelings of being Lonely This Christmas.

Christmas can bring a flurry of memories

One of my favorite memories, straight out of the movies, is dining one glorious Christmas Eve at the Chateau Frontenac. Huge snowflakes danced their way to the ground en masse. Later that storybook evening, my mother built a snowman as folks walked the streets, sang carols and shared their very merry selves with others. Everyone was thoroughly enjoying their White Christmas in the Winter Wonderland of Old Québec. A couple of Christmases later, Mom built a baby snowman on her patio. Even though my she didn’t die anywhere near Christmastime, every time I Step into Christmas, a part of my heart swells at the thought of my mom and her snowmen.

This year, I’ll Be Home for Christmas. During this time of covid, home means that I will be in social isolation at a rented beach house in North Carolina with my dad, his beloved partner, and their dog (another addition to our “new” family).  There will be no mom and no snowmen for me this year. I will grieve my mom’s absence, yet I will build new memories with curiosity and good cheer. Grief is all about the conflicting emotions of both happy and sad. Grief exercises our hearts to hold opposite feelings at the same time.

So when you Think of Christmas, and if you are really wanting a Cuddle Up, Cozy Down Christmas, but you find yourself sad and angry and easily irritable, it is best not to Blame It On The Mistletoe, or on the Little Drummer Boy for that matter. After all, there are quite a few effective coping strategies you might want to consider:

  • Walking in the Snow may be a grand way to settle into your heart and witness your feelings. Take some deep cleansing breaths and honour that you are here now. Find something to be grateful for. If you are feeling your feelings, be grateful for that!
  • Seek out those people in your life who would love to join you in sharing cherished memories (not everyone is game, so be mindful of each person’s unique way of grieving).
  • Retrieve an album, a slideshow or video of holidays past, or make one, if you’d like to revisit images of you and your loved one together.
  • Be aware that holiday traditions may change and stay open to what the new ones may have to offer.
  • Be honest. Tell people what you do want and what you don’t want. Yes, this is hard! People want to know how to be there for you. Having them guess your needs could be dangerous and can be frustrating. It’s important that you think about this in advance, so that you can express it to others.

These tips, along with more support and great ideas are available on whatsyourgrief.com, where you will find a collection of blog posts focusing on grief during holidays and other special days.

Your friendly neighbourhood Grief Recovery Elf,

CMA

PS – If you’re game, there are 19 titles of Christmas songs embedded in this article. If you use Spotify, you can find them all on this Christmas playlist.


About CMA Medeiros

A guest contributor to our Wellness website, CMA Medeiros is certified in the Grief Recovery Method, Advanced Level.  You can learn more by visiting her website at goodgrief.rocks

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