Many people see the holidays as a space for joy, which is a beautiful sentiment and intention. But the holidays are also a space for grief. For some people, the holidays remind them of turmoil and abuse. Having time and space with family wasn’t a blessing but a threat.
For others, the holidays remind them of what’s been lost: family members, loved ones, time. Whether it’s the loneliness of the first Christmas in a new town or the grief of the first or fifth holiday after the death of a beloved friend or relative.
Sometimes when we look back, we judge the year we’ve had, we feel the failures of the past twelve months, we compare our bounty to the bounty of others and find ourselves, our wealth, and our lives lacking.
All of this is normal, and yet, it’s easy to feel a sense of shame, a desire to hide or fix our grief in a season where it seems only joy is allowed. It can push into isolation or hiding your feelings.
And so my invitation is to allow space for yourself to grieve this year over the holidays. Let yourself cry about the Christmas mornings you didn’t have, cry over the year that went wrong, cry over the loved one who isn’t with you around the hearth. Let your tears flow out so that the joy and gratitude might as well.
The holidays are a merry time of year and letting yourself weep so that your heart may open and feel the spirit of love and hope might be the very thing that allows you to feel close to those you love and those you’ve lost.
This Christmas, I’m going to take some time to journal, to grieve, and to love the tender parts of myself. Then I’ll wipe my tears, eat a candy cane, and watch Die Hard (which is totally a Christmas movie BTW) and allow the new space I’ve opened up to be filled with love and gratitude for the incredible life I lead.
I hope each of you makes space for whatever you feel and that you find love in the strangest of places.
PS If you feel terribly alone or overcome by grief in the holidays, get help! Call a friend or if nothing call the helpline. Even if you aren’t suicidal, having someone to share your feelings with can help. Suicide Prevention Hotline 1-800-273-8255