This is the time of year where I like to remind myself that feelings aren’t facts. I think the holidays make everyone a little overly sensitive. Let’s face it……a lot of us are gathering with relatives that maybe we don’t see on a regular basis. It is basically like having a group of strangers visit your home or better yet, you know them really well and you might be fearful of what they will do. The holidays can be fun-filled scenarios full of dysfunction that can rival any reality show.
Holidays can be difficult for a lot of people. This may be the first gathering of family since the loss of a loved one. Grief is an ingredient that doesn’t mix well with the festivities. My dad died three weeks before Christmas and the holidays have not been the same. The unfortunate thing is that society doesn’t allow for us to feel anything but “joy” during this time. There is something unnatural if someone isn’t happy during the ritual celebration. What we have to remember is that it is okay to feel less than happy. I, for one, haven’t seen the emotional police handing out tickets to those who suffer during the holidays, so it is a safe bet that embracing how you feel will be better for all in the long run.
I always acknowledge the loss. There is always going to be that vacant spot in my heart. Of course, I miss my dad, but somehow I have created some happiness where the sadness had lived. It doesn’t mean I am not grieving still, but I have allowed joy and grief to occupy the same place. You see, there is room for all of my emotions and they can coexist peacefully.
I allow my father’s memory to thrive rather than to hide it in a small, dark hole. Part of my healing is talking about all the memories that I have – good and bad. By doing that, I am allowing him to still walk with me in the spiritual sense. He is still a vital part of my life now as he was when he was here.
My recommendation is to be easy with yourself and those around you. Grief is really just an extension of our love, so embrace it. Connecting with other people who understand will alleviate that tightness that sadness can bring. Create the holiday that you want and don’t allow what others think the experience should be dictate what your heart is feeling. Just remember that it won’t always feel this heavy. Time really does have a way of healing.