An Authentic Christmas After Loss

Dec 25, 2020

As Christmas day rolls around, we who have experienced profound loss may feel anything but merry and bright. The dread and anticipation have been building for weeks and now the day is finally here.  No matter if this is year 1 or year 10, it is perfectly okay to not be okay.

My husband’s birthday is Christmas day (making him the best Christmas gift my mother-in-law ever received, she often says.) So, in my early years of navigating life after loss, I dreaded Christmas day even more. If I could write a letter to my newly widowed self, to be opened on Christmas morning, this is what I would say:


The weeks of dread leading up to this day were actually worse than this day will be.

With that said, this day won’t be easy, but it will have moments of happy, and even joy. Don’t forget to experience what is good: the people who ARE present, the health of those you love, the joy on the faces of the little ones. Try not to rob yourself of these moments because you are mourning the past moments. Easier said than done, yes, but it’s a good goal.

You’ve got only a microscopic amount of energy to get through this day. Use it wisely.  Self-judgement will waste all of it quickly. Notice your thoughts and how often you use the word, “should.” It isn’t useful on any day, especially today. Today will be a messy mix of emotions and you will do your best to navigate them.

Make space to feel the difficult feelings. The ache, the sadness, the longing for what was. Attempting to sweep those feelings under the rug will only delay (and compound) them. Making space for them gives you a little more control over your day.

Pace yourself. You may only be able to experience Christmas in small doses. Take your own car and park so that you’re not blocked in by other cars. Quietly leave when you need to. Or excuse yourself and go for a walk.

Know that well-intentioned, non-widowed family and friends desperately want you to be “better,” and even, “over it.” Try not to expect them to understand what they cannot possibly understand. Appreciate their good intentions and remember that once upon a time, you didn’t get it either.

One source of heartache is not buying him a gift. Consider what gift you CAN give him. A random act of kindness? A donation in his memory? Or possibly the best gift you can give him is the way in which you live your life after loss. Maybe eventually you create a life that is big enough for the two of you.

Instead of “merry Christmas,” or “happy holidays,” I wish you the most authentic human experience on this Christmas in your life after loss – the full range of emotions that we so readily feel, often all at once. The sadness and the joy. The heartache and the happy. Feel every bit of it today and believe with all your heart that the future is brighter than the present. It is, I promise.

What better gift to give yourself than a proven way to reconstruct your life? My private coaching program will help you do just that. If you’re ready to invest in yourself and your brighter future, simply apply here and we’ll see if it’s a fit.  

Learn more about Life Reconstructed.

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