Dealing with December dreadDec 13, 2023
If in December you feel neither holly nor jolly, it’s perfectly okay. No matter if it’s your first December without your person or your 15th or somewhere in between, there is no requirement that you snap into the “spirit,” or fake it until you make it.
You don’t have to put up a tree, or if you do, you don’t have to drag out all the usual ornaments. Trees, ornaments and decorations carry memories, and maybe that feels too heavy this year.
You’ve done hard things and you had no choice. You don’t have to also do the optional hard things. (This is one of my most useful thoughts year-round, and it works particularly well this time of year.)
There is no rule book for how you must do the holiday season in your life after loss. There are no grief police. There’s no possibility that you’ll get coal in your stocking. You get to do this your way, on your terms, on your timeline.
I didn't put up a Christmas tree in the first 11 years since my husband passed. I liked my reasons and I had my own back. I did put out my nativity scene and some poinsettias. That’s what felt right for me. I celebrate Christmas, and I felt that I could do Christmas if I kept it simple; if I peeled back all the extra layers and focus on the reason for the season.
You may celebrate Christmas or perhaps other religious holidays this month. No matter what you celebrate in December, I have a few questions for you.
- What are you not going to do this year?
- What are you going to do differently?
- What do you want to do?
- How might you integrate your person and also make new memories?
- And perhaps the most important question if you’re experiencing December dread: how do you want to feel?
Of course, it won’t be a bowl of cherries. There will be sadness, among other difficult emotions. There may also be joy and laughter. The holiday season emphasizes the duality of life after loss: the sometimes disorienting mix of emotions, all happening at once. This is the authentic human experience that is ours.
I hope you’ll make time and space for the sadness. I also hope you’ll make time and space for the joy. I hope you’ll find a way to allow both, to honor both, and to fully experience both. You have already felt the very worst feelings, after all. You can do this, too.
If the fast-approaching holidays bring an overwhelming sense of dread, I see you. I felt it, too. You don’t have to do it alone. My coaching program called Life Reconstructed is what I needed most to help me navigate the holidays. Click below to learn more.
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