During the holiday season, we can become acutely aware of our losses and griefs, of our sadness and pain. We are in great need of comfort for grief during the holidays.
The pain of grief always lurks beneath the surface, but there are many things about holidays that can trigger a fresh wave of loss and grief.
We might ask, “How do I navigate grief during the holidays?” On one hand we can feel pressured to pretend everything is happy-clappy. On the other, the awareness of who and what is missing in our lives can flare.
There’s no one “right way” to make it through the experience of grief, especially during the holidays.
Be clear about what matters most to you.
Do you most want quiet?
Would you prefer small groups of people close to you?
Is it your preference to have someone with you as often as possible?
Do you want to repeat favorite traditions or create new ones?
Sometimes we do not know the “right” way for us to be in grieving until we walk several steps in the “wrong” direction.
Learning our new selves and coming to our new normal might take many tries. Let’s be gentle with ourselves as we explore what it means to be ourselves in today’s reality.
One of the practices that is helpful to me is to attend a small gathering that acknowledges the mixed nature of living the holidays. All of our lives have circumstances that are different than we want them to be. When we gathered the other night we lit candles, shared our stories of loss, read comforting words and sang songs that focused on hope even in dark times.
There’s no one “right way” to make it through the experience of grief. Acknowledging what is real and meaningful, bringing the darkness out into the light, helps us navigate the grief process. Sharing the truth with trusted people reminds us that we are not alone.
Some questions as you seek comfort for grief during the holidays
What has helped you to navigate the holiday season given the realities of your circumstance?
How are you taking care of yourself in the midst of the expectations of this season?
What are your plans over the holiday seasons?
If you are in a place of health and peace at the moment, what would you have offered yourself as words of grace in another holiday season of grief?
Through the centuries, the Psalms, have brought great comfort in the midst of grieving. The image of God bending low to hear us and to give us comfort for grief is found in many places, but especially in Psalm 113. You could listen along to Psalm 113 with us as hold on to that image of God bending toward you.
If you are a person who prefers audio to video, catch up with this same dialogue through our podcast.
And always, if you are in need of a Spiritual Direction conversation in the midst of your loss and grief, you are invited to contact us to see whether the kinds of supports that we offer are a good fit for the season you are in right now!
If you want to explore a little further, Dr Alan Wolfelt is a compassionate leader around grief. Consider checking out his writing if you are searching for more information.
Grace and peace to you in the midst of all the things!