This time of year for me is precious and I work hard at being grateful for all the gifts I have been given including my beautiful daughter home from college and my loving husband at my side celebrating the holidays. The three of us will attend church services Christmas Eve and open presents Christmas morning while munching on coffee cake, a recipe from my Mom handed down from her Mom, my Grandma Ester. Maybe we’ll Skype with family in other states on Christmas Day while cooking a roast and enjoying appetizers over red wine. We will be filled with holiday spirit and enjoy what we believe is the ultimate Christmas Day, together as a family.
But I have friends and family whom I know don’t celebrate the holidays with as much gusto and gala. They need help getting through the holidays. I have a friend who lost her daughter from a motorcycle accident, another who lost her daughter to a skiing accident, and another who lost her daughter to blood clots caused from birth control. I have a sister who almost lost her son from a shooting incident that required him to spend months learning to walk again. And I have others in my life in other parts of the country from me who don’t have family to spend the day with or to attend services with or to share a glass of wine with over appetizers. They need help getting through the holidays.
I think about the people I love for whom the holidays are not always the happiest of times and for whom Christmas carols, tree decorating, and eggnog bring depression and heartache. I think of my loved ones for whom the holidays bring up a deep sense of loss and sadness and I wish I could offer some help for getting through the season.
I recently read an article by Tim Lawrence, the founder of The Adversity Within, a blog dedicated to examining the topic of resilience in the face of adversity while inspiring readers to stand headstrong in their grief and fight for their own evolution. Tim agrees the holidays can be a time of grief, family tensions, loneliness, and facing our own imperfections. And he has these suggestions for getting through the holidays if they are not your favorite time of year.
1. Turn off the Christmas carols if you’re not in the mood, and don’t go to that party if you don’t want to.
2. If you’re grieving, understand that the pain associated with it is perfectly natural.
3. If the season is making you feel lonely, give yourself permission to be brave enough to reach out to someone.
4. If there isn’t a specific person you want to reach out to, don’t be afraid to choose to be alone with intention.
None of these things will rid you completely of your grief, sadness, or depression, but they might be a start to getting through a time of year when you feel more at odds with the rest of the world than usual. They are a start to self care and making YOU a priority at a time of year when it may be hard to ask for what you need.
Mr. Lawrence also says if this is a difficult time of year for you, understand that you’re not alone. The holidays are in no position to create a happy ending where none exists.
But the holidays just might be in a position to remind us of the importance of self care and asking for what we need.
Read more from Tim Lawrence at If The Holidays Are Hard For You