The Holiday Blues

*Written by Peggy Burns MA LPC*

Holidays are filled with many emotions: happy, excited, anticipation. It is a joyful time, waiting all year to spend the holidays together. Planning and preparing a meal, buying and wrapping presents can be time consuming and stressful.

What is also stressful is when you are not feeling up to all the tasks because you are feeling the loss of a loved one.  You miss that person even more during the holidays. There is a part of you that is missing as well, a hole that cannot be filled. Holidays are especially difficult because they are based around gathering the family together. When this changes, it changes the dynamic, the cohesiveness is lost.

It has been two years now since I lost my daughter and I struggle with the plans that will not be made, the celebrations that won’t be celebrated. So how do we celebrate the Holidays when our heart is aching?

It is not just one answer, it is not an easy answer. We must find new meaning, a new definition of family. We have to define how we want to celebrate these holidays now that our “normal” celebrations have changed.  What I have found is that it challenges us to find a new answer. We must reinvent our family, find new traditions that can fill in the gaps from the old traditions.

It is ok not to have turkey on Thanksgiving, it is ok to order Chinese food for Christmas when cooking is too overwhelming or too much to bear this year. We will find a new way of celebrating our family because our family is still at the heart of our celebrations.

We carry a burden of grief that can become heavy at times. If your find yourself just not up to the task of the day or going to that party, it is ok to take a break from it too. I know that there is no rhyme or reason when grief strikes, and it can be overwhelming. Try not to overbook yourself, allow some quiet time to help refocus and reflect. Finding a balance of what feels right for you and right for your family is important.

When you find a little joy – hold on to it. It will become bigger each year. Take a break from sadness and grief and let yourself feel joy and happiness in the company of family and friends. It is ok not to feel sad.

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