There is something about the holidays that tends to resurface grief in a uniquely intense way. The cooling of nature, the shortened hours of daylight, life all around us slowing down to a halt…countered by shopping fanaticism, coordination with (perhaps undesirable) family members, traffic and airport lines. The constant observation of families together can send a sharp pain when your own family feels broken.
Whether this is your first holiday dealing with intense grief or one of many you have survived, you may have noticed a certain reflection and sorrow that only comes at this time of year. Bringing family together, by nature, emphasizes the absence of family members and loved ones. Whether a loved one has passed, been estranged, or lives far away, there is no escaping the reality that things are not the way they once were. There are probably one or two people in particular that you crave to share a holiday meal with – and now you must learn to connect with them in another way.
As hard as the holidays may be, if we widen our lens outside of our own family, to our community, our friends, neighbors, country, and even the globe, we will see we are not alone. Every family shares in grief and struggle. Emotions can be high during the holidays. So, break now, and give yourself a bit of compassion. You made it through the holidays!
As we move into 2015 with the days growing longer and warmer, here is a little exercise to help us reflect and move forward in peace. Grab a piece of paper and pen.
First, write down three things that you feel gratitude for from the past holiday season. These can be anything – big or little – that warmed your heart or helped you make it through a day, an hour, or a week.
Mine are: 1) I got to play tea (among other games) with my two-year-old niece! She is amazing. 2) I spent a lot of time connecting with my sister while we sorted through boxes of old family photos 3) I received daily renewal of love and support from my girlfriend. <3 Swoon.
Now, write three intentions for the next holiday. What are some things you wish would have gone differently? People you would have liked to see, rituals you would like to include next year to celebrate loved ones?
Mine are: 1) Plan ahead to have one night out to see more friends. 2) Create an altar for my parents, grandparents and close friends who have passed with a photo of each and a candle for each. I’d like to light a candle for each of them for one full week. 3) Plan ahead for donations to heartfelt causes as gifts for any loved ones. (Because we really don’t need more stuff.)
Now, put these six items in your calendar for December 1st, 2015. Give yourself a reminder of what things helped you make it through the holidays, and what things you’d like to do differently to make your next holiday season even more meaningful.
Please share your 3 gratitudes & 3 intentions in the comments – it would be great to hear ideas from everyone in the Peace Through Grief Community.
Peace and be well as we move into our new beginnings!