It’s that time of year again. The leaves are changing, there’s a chill in the air, the hot days of summer are all but gone, and the transition from one season to the next is evident everywhere you turn. For many, this time of year is one to look forward to. The cooler weather brings a renewed desire to be outside and the promise of fun times to come. Maybe it’s just me, but doesn’t it seem like as soon as Fall officially arrives it’s a whirlwind of activities, parties, and busy weekends for the next few months? As though time speeds up with the chilly wind that pushes through, the autumn months fly by and we soon find ourselves in the midst of the next holiday season. While for many that will be a magical time of year, for others, the holidays will be tainted by a backdrop of pain and grief. The first Thanksgiving without a loved one. Another Christmas and nobody to share it with. Grief and loss are difficult at any time, but this time of year seems to highlight pain like no other season can, regardless of what holiday you might be celebrating.
“The Grief Recovery Handbook” by John W. James and Russell Friedman, states that “Grief is the normal and natural reaction to loss of any kind. Therefore, the feelings you are having are also normal and natural for you. The problem is that we have all been socialized to believe that these feelings are abnormal and unnatural. Grief is simply the conflicting feelings caused by the end of or change in a familiar pattern of behavior” (p. 3). While it may help to know that what you might be feeling is normal, my guess is that it doesn’t make the grief process any easier.
How many times have you heard someone say, “I just need to get through the holidays”? How many times have you said this yourself? While the pain you might be feeling is very real, I want you to know that it’s okay to be hurting when others have that holiday spirit that is usually so contagious. Whether because of death, divorce, or other types of loss, the holidays have a way of highlighting the fact that something in our life is not the way we’d want it to be. So let me give you permission now, before the holiday season is fully upon us, to admit if you’re hurting. Share with a friend or family member that you’re in pain, or reach out to a counselor for extra support. Be honest with yourself and others that the holidays are a struggle this year. Inviting others into this part of your life can bring a sense of relief in knowing that you’re not going through the hard times alone. It’s okay to give ourselves some grace to know that this holiday season may be harder than others. My guess is that if you’re struggling through the ups and downs up grief this season, you’re not alone. So try to find hope in the midst of a difficult time and reach out to others who can help you walk through it.