Holidays hold enormous meaning for all of us. How we have observed and celebrated them ties us to family and friends over the years.
Each of us has memories of the holidays from the time we were small children. These memories are not just in the mind, but are in the heart and body as well. Our senses are deeply involved in these memories. Certain smells and tastes, sounds and sights, and the touch of people we care about…all of these are woven into what makes a particular holiday satisfying. They create the ritual of observance.
Now, there is a loss—of a person, or people, of certain ways of observing holidays—and your life has changed. The holidays will never be quite the same again.
“Tradition” does not speak of change, and “tradition” is the foundation of holiday celebration. In contrast, the vast, often overwhelming change(s) brought on by the loss of a loved one destroy the constancy of what has been. “Different” is all-pervasive. In the blink of an eye your life is out of sync with the TV screen, the radio messages and the magazine layouts. Compounding the situation, there may be other coincidences to the season—anniversaries of various types (birth, marriage, death), sad memories from the past, and so on.
What can you do to help yourself through the holidays? Give yourself permission to feel and be different from “your old self” this year. Regardless of your age, young, old or in-between, sorting through your thoughts, having a conversation with your heart and your mind, may provide you with some ideas of things to do to ease your journey through this difficult holiday time.
It’s OK to change some traditional observances…or to skip all of them. Perhaps it’s too sad to do things the same way…or you just feel like doing things differently. Be particularly good to yourself: eat well, stay warm, find people and things that nurture and nourish you. Accept hugs (or ask for them) if you are so inclined. If this is your first holiday season alone, or if this is a particularly difficult one, know that it is still possible to have a decent, if not wonderful, holiday.
And then, as the holidays move into the New Year, acknowledge your survival and the new beginning. Embrace all of your emotions, all of the gifts of your life, all of the losses of your life, all of your regrets, hopes and dreams, and plan for the future. Today is the beginning of the rest of your life!