Ready or Not? Let’s Be Ready – Holidays and the Loss of a Loved One
Eight weeks until Christmas, four weeks until Thanksgiving?! That’s right, the holiday season is coming, whether we are ready or not. The stores have been stocked with Christmas and holiday decorations, candles scented with pine and cinnamon cookies, and even a seldom fireplace lit (yes, even in Houston) with that gorgeous aroma of burning wood.
For many of us, the holidays are an exciting time when the hot Texas weather cools, fall is in the air, and the excitement for holidays abounds. But for a lot of others, the holidays bring up the ever-present reminder that their loved one is still gone. Some of you reading this article have had the unfortunate experience of losing a friend or family member this year and well, you may not be looking forward to the holidays like you used to. That empty space at the table where grandpa used to sit and tell his jokes during supper, the warm embrace from your mother which you will never ever forget but miss so much.
For you who have suffered a loss, the holidays mean something entirely different. And some of you may not be looking forward to them at all. It’s something we usually don’t think about until we have been placed in the situation ourselves.
Ready or Not? Let’s Be Ready
It is important that you come up with a plan. It is better to have a plan than to have no plan at all: especially if this is your first holiday season without that special person in your life to share it with. You may wish to just retreat somewhere and spend the holidays by yourself because well, it feels like there is no joy in your heart to give to another. You may have no choice in the matter because everyone and the whole neighborhood are coming to your house for the holidays.
Whatever the situation, find what is right for you. Here are some tips to making a plan:
Challenge yourself to extend love and compassion to others as a remedy for yourself during these times.Confront your inner voice that tells you that you to be alone, for it is the company others who have the ability to uplift a sore spirit.Dedicate a time either by yourself or with the whole family to commemorate the person who has passed away with a ritual, a new tradition, or conversation.But then also invent a new creative activity to do with the family, which you can build upon year after year.
From my experience, it is better to have a plan.
Have time for sorrow, to fully feel and express your thoughts.Cry. Hug. Pray. Then have a time to be in the present and appreciate the life right in front of you.Eat. Be thankful- even though it might mean doing the hardest thing you could ever imagine.
It is important to find that balance between grief and celebration, and it is possible.
What it does NOT look like is to pretend to be something that you’re not. The purpose of
this is to be able to stay true to how you feel and how painful the loss is, but also to challenge yourself to be in the moment and not miss out on life that is in front of you. Compartmentalize, if you will (practice, practice). The holidays will be hard for you if you have lost someone. There is no way around that. But have a plan and stick to it.
I’m curious to hear what works for you this holiday season because ready or not, the holidays are coming. Let’s be ready.