Deep inside the grateful heart is the treasure of the joy that the whole world seeks. A quote by Marie Chapian
The Christmas season is upon us and its time for families to prepare for their favorite traditions. Family, friends, food, fun, and everything in between. But for those that have experienced the loss of a loved one, this time of year can add some more uncertainty, anxiety, and stress. Fear of the season is real!
Fear of the unknown, fear of the emotions that will appear or fear of not seeing the loved one at the table. All are fair game during the holidays!
It’s been 5 years since I endured my first holiday season without Randy. As I face yet another year, I am reminded of some tips to help the season go just a little smoother.
First and foremost, recognize that this will not be an easy season. So don’t pretend it will be and certainly do not expect perfection. Give yourself and others around you the grace to know it’s going to be difficult. As much as you are fearful of the holiday, those around will also be on pins and needles, not knowing what to do or how to help. Everyone just wants you to be ok, and let’s face it, there is very little they can do to take the pain away. Offering yourself and your family the space to know it won’t be easy allows you and others to make a few mistakes.
Plan and prepare
Planning ahead for the day or days of celebrating can get you in the right frame of mind. I found myself wanting to avoid what was ahead. I wonder how many people want to avoid the thought of what it’s going to be like without their loved one at the table? Honestly, there’s little preparation you can do to overcome this emotion. But planning ahead and taking some time to get yourself in a good headspace can be helpful. How about a few extra treats for yourself? Schedule a spa day, or a pedicure and manicure. Take a little extra time to get your hair done or buy a special scarf or necklace for the day? Schedule a coffee date with a close friend and confidant. Write a blog or craft a poem about your loved one. Taking some time to give yourself a little pampering can help you feel special and cared for.
Rest and relaxation are key to starting the season in a good place. The holidays often can involve more social activities and hectic schedules can really take a toll on your sleep patterns and overall health. Lists and more lists of things to do. Baking, shopping, decorating, entertaining not to mention all the other normal life activities. Maybe it’s time to learn the power of “no”. No….as I was taught early on is the full sentence. No. Period.
No guilt, no pressure, and no expectation. Just no. This is the time to take it a little slower. Give up on doing the Martha Stewart Christmas. You’ve just experienced a great loss. Now is the time to say no to all the hustle and bustle. No.
Pick and choose a couple of things that bring you joy, peace or happiness. Attend a music concert. Hide yourself in a new book. Find a Christmas devotion. Or search for a new Spotify music playlist. Find something to give yourself a chance to rest and prepare your heart for the coming events.
Remove the temptation or self-expectation of doing it all, as you’ve always done it. Life is different now. The rules of the Christmas season have all changed. Be kind to yourself and your schedule.
This is the time to be realistic with yourself. Expectations of how the season or day will go and worrying about it seem to take hold but this is not the time to let yourself get too far ahead. Take the days and moments, step by step. Don’t worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow is not here yet. This is NOT the time to take any large leaps. Step by step…that’s all you can expect. Some of the steps might be forward, some might even be sideways….and let’s be real, some or maybe even many might be steps backward. That’s ok. Be real, you’ve just gone through a rough patch, the holidays are not the time to expect great leaps forward on your journey. Survival might be your most realistic goal. Be gentle with yourself and set your sights on small steps.
This is the season we see this word Joy, over and over! Joy to the World. Joyful, joyful we adore thee. But the little three-letter word is really a choice. A choice you can make every single day, every single moment. Starting each day, before you get out of bed….find one thing that you can find joy with today. Just one thing. Something that you are grateful for. Shifting your mind from what you don’t have or what you don’t like…take just a couple of minutes first thing, that you can tell yourself you are one lucky person. Changing your mindset to gratefulness rather than bitterness starts with finding those things that are going good in your life. Even if there isn’t a lot…find one thing. Start a holiday gratitude journal with a daily goal of writing an entry. Place post-it notes on your bathroom mirror with the word…gratitude as a way to remind yourself to choose joy. Or download a Christmas devotion and read a daily inspirational message. My favorite app is the bible app, my version. Try this one: Grief Bites: Hope for the Holidays.
This season too shall pass. That might be the best news of all. The season of the holidays or the season of grief will pass. And life does go on. Take this year in stride, allowing plenty of time to be good to yourself and be gentle on others. Wishing you a very blessed Christmas.