Hope For All Those Hurting This Holiday Season
The holidays can be a wonderful time — but also an incredibly painful time if you have lost someone you love.
For some, the holidays are a painful reminder of what could have been or what feels like should have been. For others, the holidays mark a “first,” a time to be met after a loved one has already gone and that time is never easy.
My form of loss is a small one in the grand scheme of things, having gone through a miscarriage a few months ago. I had dreamed of a cozy Christmas nestled by the tree in my maternity jeans, another stocking to hang by the chimney with care. But I lost that pregnancy and I'm not sure that we will ever get pregnant again, so the loss feels especially hard this season. And still, in the big picture, my loss feels insignificant.
But it's still there. Just like the losses and loneliness and aching hearts of so many. So if your holiday isn't feeling completely jolly, please know that you are not alone.
Your holiday may look a little different this year, but if you need some guidance, consider these suggestions:
Talk to someone. Whether it's a counselor or a doctor or just a friend, don't keep your emotions or loss bottled up inside. I recently found a counselor in my area and just knowing that I am taking steps to help myself is encouraging. You are worth the effort.
Don't force it. There are no holiday police forcing you to do traditions that are only going to hurt you this year. If you don't want to do the holiday parties or the tree decorating or the caroling, don't. I'm not saying isolate yourself, but if you need a break for one year, take it. The world will not end, promise. You may just find that a newer, more gentle tradition helps more than you thought.
Journal it out. There are so many lovely journals dedicated to loss that can really be healing for a lot of people. Write out your feelings, count your blessings, or just sketch, but whatever you do, let it all out.
Honor your loss. Is there something you could do this holiday season to honor your loss? You may think that hiding from your pain is the best thing you can do, but sometimes, embracing it or acknowledging it is much more healing and therapeutic. For example, I thought that downplaying my loss, not really calling it “my baby” and just referring to my miscarriage as a “pregnancy loss” was the most mature way to deal with it. It wasn't until someone else gifted me with a remembrance statue that I realized how misguided I had been — I wasn't helping anyone, myself especially, by pretending my loss was anything other than what it felt like: losing a part of our family forever. There may be a way that you could honor your loss, even through the holidays, such as through a special remembrance ornament.
Surround yourself with those you love. It's hard to face others when you are hurting, but it's equally as important to reach out to others. There may be help in unexpected places and although you should be kind to yourself and take all the time you need to mourn, please also consider spending time with family and friends, no matter how small. You are loved and they will appreciate the time with you.
What loss are you facing this holiday season? What would make it more bearable to you?