Written by: Steve Knight
As I drive through our communities, I see decorations for the holidays everywhere. Hanukah or Kwanzaa candles, Christmas bows, garlands, and lights everywhere often make me smile, but just as often it makes me pause. I pause to think about the fact that this may be the first set of holidays for many of us who have lost a partner, a best friend, or a child. I think about the loved ones who we can’t call any longer, and a house being less full because someone has passed on.
These holidays are not the only reminders for us, of course. We think of our loved ones throughout the year, but somehow holidays seem to be more impactful. Painful memories such as a deceased loved one’s birthday or a wedding anniversary feel more manageable, because they are quiet, private days of remembrance—but the winter holiday reminders are everywhere: Black Friday, Cyber Monday, Santa at the mall, lighting kinaras or menorahs, dreidels on store shelves, bright lights shining on everything, television advertisements, co-workers talking about the vacation plans, businesses closing, holiday parties for your office or neighborhood.
Please know that you are not alone in your feelings of grief, sadness, and loss. Others have lost loved ones and they, too, may think they can’t talk about it because they don’t want to upset others. Cultures and traditions throughout the world vary in their ways of remembering those who have passed on. We don’t have one set of rules that govern how we handle these feelings around the holidays. If you take the lead in normalizing the conversations around missing your loved ones, you may find that it allows others to do the same.
At Whole Health we talk about these feelings. We encourage our clients and our colleagues to share funny stories as well as the painful moments. We do know that any one thing doesn’t help everyone. We know that some of us find relief through sharing with others, by gathering with friends or spending time with family. And sometimes we need quiet alone moments to express our feelings through art, exercise, in writing or in tears—alone.
How do you cope at times like this? Please call us if we can help.
It sounds easy, doesn’t it? As the song says, “let it go “. However, it’s usually not as simple as that. Why is it often so hard to forgive people and let go of grudges, real or perceived? Often, it is because someone we love and trust has hurt us in a way that has left us feeling angry and resentful. We may choose not to forgive initially because we may equate it with minimizing the issue and excusing the behavior. Deciding to forgive and let go doesn’t mean that the original act is forgotten about, but it can release a hold it has on us, and take away its power.
Naturally, being hurt by someone we care about can make us angry, sad, and cause us to be less trusting. But by not being open to forgiveness, it can color the way we experience new relationships, limit our enjoyment of the present, and possibly lead to feeling depressed or anxious. By letting go we can free ourselves up to enjoy healthier future relationships while taking lessons we’ve learned with us. Forgiveness can be viewed as a process of change, allowing acknowledgment of emotions regarding the harm done, as well as transitioning away from the role of a victim by releasing the power the situation held in your life.
There are many positive benefits to learning to forgive others and move on. Some of those include less stress and hostility, lowered blood pressure, improved self-esteem, and healthier relationships. What if you’re trying to forgive, but having a hard time moving forward? Perhaps try to see the situation from the other person’s point of view, and ask yourself why they might have behaved that way. Think about if there were any issues in the past where others may have forgiven you and how that felt. Try writing your thought and feelings in a journal as a way of releasing them. Also, keep in mind that forgiving someone doesn’t necessarily have to mean reconciliation with the other person. It can be viewed us simply a way for you to move on from the control the situation had over you.
We cannot control other people’s words or actions, but we can let go of how they made us feel and take back the control over how we respond to others. It can also provide us renewed feelings of empathy and compassion.
So something to think about the next time you’re feeling hurt and angry: forgiveness might just be the healing