Throughout November many people have been posting daily what they are thankful for and I think it is an excellent habit to remind ourselves what we need not take for granted. To tell those around us how much we care, to express appreciation for the little things. These are so important when the world around us can feel quite negative much of the time. One thing I would add for this time of year, and all year, is a sense of empathy. Please try to recognize what others are going through because while some of us are celebrating with loves ones, others are alone and hurting.
The holidays can be a season of caring and giving. But it can also be a constant reminder of the voids. If someone has lost a loved one to death, the holidays can be especially difficult because the traditions have to change. Who’s going to cook the turkey if Mom’s gone? How am I going to deal with all of these toy commercials and Santa if my child has died?
Divorce can also make the holidays different and difficult. If your ex has the kids for the holiday it can be a very lonely day without them. It can bring up resentments and hurt feelings and trigger depression and drinking, sleeping or other unhealthy behaviors to cope.
Being single when someone wishes they weren’t can also be saddening this time of year. Not having that special someone to share a moment with makes some people feel gloom.
I bring these things up as a reminder. For those of us not dealing with these issues, a reminder to be conscientious of those who do. Don’t assume they have someone to spend the holidays with. Don’t gloat about what you are doing. And invite people into your circle during this season who might not have a place to go. For those who are struggling, try to plan ahead for the difficult days. Don’t be afraid to ask a friend for support and make plans for tough days instead of dreading them. Know yourself. If you know the holiday will be hard, make plans to do something different or special, honoring the one you lost or helping others who are also in need.
The holidays are not happy for everyone. But maybe we can help make them less miserable for those who are dreading them.