There can be pressure during the holidays to have everything “just so.” You know, the perfect family, the lovely holiday decorations, the chef-prepared meal, the 5-Point Black Friday shopping plan, the tree trimming, holiday parties and festivities galore. The fact of the matter is, although those things are great in theory, they are often just a figment of our imagination—a far-off glimmer of an idea we once had.
In reality, many of our community members live alone, are estranged from family, will not be shopping or decorating next week; but trying to imagine how they will possibly get through the next several weeks and keep it together enough to maintain some sense of normalcy in their lives.
I know because I’ve been there.
I lost both of my parents in the same year. The first Christmas without my mom was truly unbearable. The following Christmas—without my dad—was harder still. I remember going back to work after New Year’s and being overwhelmed with questions about how my holidays went. My honest and humble reply, “I survived.” Honestly, in the early years, that was a feat in itself—simply surviving the holidays. Sadly, I had no intention of getting any enjoyment out of them.
While I don’t wish that kind of existence on anyone, I know some of you are there as we speak. The activities coming up in the next several weeks may be causing some anxiety, depression, obsessive thoughts and sleepless nights.
I offer you my words in the hope they will give you some comfort in while you’re grieving.
For those who’ve lost a loved one recently (or will forever grieve their loss)—I know that it can seem impossible to live without this person in your life, and yet you do—and you must. No bullshit about how much they would want to see you go on. It’s true, but you know that already.
For those who’ve lost a friend, a lover or a spouse through separation, divorce or break-up, please know that your loss is just as significant—except no one asks how you’re doing or brings casseroles for dinner. I’m sorry you may feel alone and “the system” is not set up to support you during this time.
For those who’ve lost your sense of security when you lost your job, please know that not fitting into a company’s business plan has no bearing on your personal value. Your value as a human being is far more cherished than any sort of monetary value you could extract from your former employer.
For those who are estranged from your family, know that sometimes eliminating people and things that no longer serve to enhance your growth is growth. I’m sorry you have to be strong on your own, but please know you are not alone.
For those who’ve lost a pet and would love nothing more than to have one last snuggle or puppy-dog kiss, know that your pets were the greatest gifts. While they may not be with us on earth for a long time, they remain in our hearts forever.
For those who fear you’ve lost your youth, know that you’re always young at heart. Aging is a beautiful thing that not everyone gets to experience. Over time we live, learn, grow and feel the feelings. Through that process, our youth is exchanged for wisdom and compassion, which is a far greater virtue than youth (in my humble opinion).
For those who lost your sense of self because you put other people’s needs ahead of your own, know that you can reclaim your soul’s essence. The first step in doing this is radical self-care. Nourish yourself—start today.
For those who lost your sense of adventure, know that you can reclaim it! Call it back now—you’re going to need it for 2017.
It’s time to plan a brilliant journey!
Please know that you are never alone and there is always help available. Reaching out for help is not a sign of weakness, it is a sign of strength.