The holidays are tough when we are grieving. The world tells us that Christmas, or whatever holiday we celebrate, ought to be the happiest time of the year. But when someone is missing, it can be difficult to muster up Christmas cheer – and that’s okay.
That being said, it often feels like there are unsaid expectations about how we should feel and act over December. Society doesn’t necessarily give us space to grieve, or remember our loved ones, over the holidays. Especially if we lost the person some time ago, or our grief is less conventional.
We want to give you permission to acknowledge your grief and honour it this holiday season. So here are five myths about coping with grief that you can throw away with that pile of wrapping paper.
- It becomes easier over time
Grief is a strange phenomenon, and while we learn to live with it, it never completely goes away. If you have lost a spouse or a loved one and a ‘significant’ amount of time has passed (eg. a few months or a year), people seem to assume that you are doing okay. In truth, the holidays can be one of the hardest times of the year because it brings up so many memories. Whether you’re celebrating your first Christmas without someone, or your twentieth, your pain is significant and valid.
- You shouldn’t feel sad because you are still loved
The fact you are surrounded by friends or family who love you doesn’t change the fact you miss someone. And while their presence can help you to have an awesome day full of new memories, this doesn’t take away from the hole you feel in your heart. Let yourself feel a range of emotions on Christmas Day and beyond – good and sad, happy and nostalgic. And invite your loved ones to join you in this by reminiscing together, or holding a memorial service.
- It’s only real grief if its about a person
We can identify grief easily when someone has passed away, but give ourselves less grace when we are grieving a lost marriage, friendship, relationship, dream or a pet. Grief comes in many forms, and it’s okay if you feel teary this holiday season when you remember what was. Allow yourself to feel your emotions, and consider how you can honour them. This may look like talking about them with a friend over coffee, journaling, going for a run or painting.
- You will never be happy again
Right now, you may feel like it’s impossible to be happy again. Anything good may even feel like a betrayal to your loved one who is no longer with us. When we feel like this, we live in a cloud of negativity that overflows onto everyone around us. No matter how many people try to help, or tell us to ‘cheer up,’ we just feel misunderstood. This can become especially apparent during the holidays when everyone else seems to be happy.
Here’s the truth: you can be happy again, and you are ALLOWED to be happy again. This doesn’t dishonour the memory of your loved one, it embodies their legacy – but you have to choose to step into this positivity.
That doesn’t mean you pretend everything is ok, rather it just means to open yourself up to love again. Instead of squashing once-happy moments with negative words or thoughts, allow yourself to experience them. Sometimes seeing a grandchild or a friend gasp in happiness is all we need to remember happiness still exists.
- You can escape your sadness
The holidays are prime time to distract us from pain. We try to numb it using alcohol, eating too much, trying to control everything, or partying way too hard. The problem is that our grief is still there the next day. And often, we actually feel worse then before.
You don’t need to escape your grief, no matter how uncomfortable or painful it may feel. You can actually live with it and honour it. By doing this, you will work through each stage and allow your heart, mind and body to heal.
Healing from grief doesn’t mean it goes away – you will always feel a sense of loss because you loved someone so deeply. But it allows you to experience the fullness of life again, instead of living some sort of numb-ed version, where you are running from your memories and emotions at every turn.
Are you grieving a loved one, a relationship or a pet? Is this your first Christmas without someone? Here’s what you need to do: Contact Colleen on 0434 337 245, Duncan on 0434 331 243 or Rachel on 0442 177 193 for a FREE 10 minute consultation on how we can best help you or book online.