The holidays are upon us. They can be difficult for people who have experienced a loss. The loss can be recent, or the loss can be from the past. I find in my work that as a culture the United States does not deal with loss well, or feelings in general. There is a push to get past it, or ignore it. Many people go with the flow push on and then wonder “why am I not over this yet?” The answer is simple. The feelings surrounding the situation have not been felt, processed, and integrated into your experiences as a human being.
The experience of loss can come from a variety of sources. It can be a divorce, a breakup with a boyfriend or girlfriend, or the death of a family member. The loss is defined by the person experiencing it. This is the hard part of understanding how you feel because society minimizes these losses. The message all around us is “get over it”
The holidays can become what is called a trigger, and pull those buried feelings to the surface. As they surface it can catch the person by surprise. The reaction often times is then to push the feelings away saying “I should not feel this way.” The harder a person pushes the feelings away the more upset they get when they continue to surface.
The best way to survive the holidays is to accept how you feel. Accept how you feel, and be okay with being sad, unhappy, or crying. Once the feelings have been released you will feel cleansed. Yet, releasing the feelings is half the battle.
The other half of the battle is developing new traditions integrating the loss into your life. For example: if the loss is due to divorce the family unit is broken apart. New family units will be formed with new traditions. Be active in developing these traditions.
Sometimes there is so much pressure for a holiday to be perfect. To not have the traditional turkey on the table with trimmings with family surrounding the table makes a person feel as if they are less than others that have the ideal holiday situation. Don’t compare yourself to the ads on television or to other people. This is so damaging.
Practice accepting that your holiday will be sad at times as everyone adjusts to the loss. Accept how you feel, and how others may be feeling. Develop new traditions, and don’t compare yourself to others. Each person has their own path with different life experiences. To compare yourself to someone else is to minimize who you are.