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.