When the holidays remind us of those that have been lost.
The holiday season is punctuated by festivities: parties, tidings of good cheer, and the word ‘happy’ tossed around like a hot potato. Many people love the holiday season; it provides a lift and literal light in the dark cold of winter. For a good many others, the holidays are a painful time, a reminder of who they are missing.
The holidays are a time of gathering; a gathering together of friends and family, celebrating traditions and rituals. This gathering however can recall loss in a deep and profound way. If you have lost someone you love in the past year, it feels raw and fresh, and for those who have lost loved ones in years past, this time can dredge up grief in a way that can feel shocking in its intensity.
Grieving and loss is such a personal experience. Honoring grief, and getting guidance and support for how to live with your loss is such an important part of continuing on. You don’t have to pretend to be joyful, but you can consciously choose to create some meaningful anchors of light. Here are some suggestions for bringing light into this season:
- Create an honoring tradition. Traditions help us to remember the past. As a child, I learned how to bake a chocolate roll with my grandmother. It became a tradition to bake it every Christmas Eve. My dad loved it, and after he passed, baking it became a way I can feel connected to him. I think about him, and remember him loving every bite. It might not be baking for you, but walking in a certain place, or listening to a favorite song.
- Build an altar. There is so many ways to decorate for the holiday season, and some might be painful for you. Consider going for a walk in nature, and creating a morning altar in honor of your loved one. The temporal nature of these creations can be a reminder that change is a constant in this life.
- Choose to be soft. There is no gain in putting on a happy face when you are grieving. Isolating yourself may not be the answer either, so reach out to some trusted friends, and connect with them in a way that feels supportive, a quiet walk through the forest, a simple evening lighting candles for your loved one and sharing memories. Spending time in this vulnerable space with a friend also gives them permission to honor their own hurts.
We can give ourselves permission to feel our pain, to honor our loss, and to choose ways to connect with others that feels meaningful and honest. When we allow ourselves this time, and invite others to join us, we give a gift of truth, and that is a light that can fill any heart.