After the death of someone close, no one holiday is more difficult to endure than Christmas.
Everyone around us is in the holiday spirit, buying gifts, decorating trees, baking cookies, arranging tables for dinner, cooking delicacies and family-guarded secret recipes. And while you may be participating in body, your soul just isn’t into it this year.
No surprise there. When your heart is aching for the loved one who is no longer near you, you try very hard to get into the Christmas spirit…to feel genuinely happy. But it doesn’t seem to be working.
If I could tell you just one thing today it would be this…it’s ok. No one said you must be overjoyed every single Christmas of your life.
We will go through peaks and valleys whether we like it or not. We will experience happy and sad times and if this is your first sad Christmas, it’s all new to you.
Those who have had other sad Christmases will tell you that they all can’t be perfect. Life hands us tough times and our job is to never forget those who go before us, yet find a way to still live our lives.
Some Christmases are just more painful than others. Some are filled with happy memories and maybe this Christmas you’ll see others enjoying themselves, but inside you, it’s not the same this year.
So if someone close to you died this year, just know you are allowed to feel sad, broken, unfocused, disinterested, jealous of others’ joy and intact families, loneliness, despair, anger, bitterness, frustration, depression.
I’ve been in your shoes before and it’s just miserable. And the only thing that helped even a little, was trying to remember the happy times spent with that individual. In an effort to keep them alive, I’d talk about them out loud. When we were at the dinner table, I’d start by saying, “Do you remember when…” and tell a funny story about them.
Now some family members were a bit silent when I began, because they weren’t sure how it would all go over. Exactly what is the grieving protocol during Christmas dinner anyway? Well whatever people imagine it should be, I usually broke that myth and kept going. I really didn’t care because somehow I didn’t have a very high tolerance for nonsense or other people’s opinions anymore.
And an interesting thing happened, the elephant left the room, people started to laugh at the stories, some added onto them, told their own stories and, yes, some folks even cried, but it didn’t matter. We were no longer worried about saying their name out loud nor were we walking on eggshells around each other. Those awkward silences and pauses had left with the elephant and boy, was I glad for that!
So if this happens to be your first Christmas down the grief path, don’t be so concerned about ‘doing the correct thing’ because nobody really knows what the correct thing is. Just open up because you’ll probably be the only one who has enough guts to start talking out loud about them and guaranteed, someone will thank you.
Mostly, you will feel better…and Christmas dinner will be much easier to bear.
Sending you love on this special day! xoxo