|photograph by Ruth Heffron|
The world of holiday shopping ads, glittering decorations and festivities is gathering momentum all around us . . . and for those who are grieving the loss of the most precious thing in their lives, it feels like a huge disconnect. The presents, the parties, the decorating, the traditions are all dimmed by the glare of aching absence.
So, how do we do this ? How do we get through this time when celebration is simply impossible?
There are some “rules” you can make for yourself that help, I think. Here are a few ideas:
Give yourself permission to only do what feels tolerable this year.
Know that whatever you decide to do can be only for this year - which is different. You can always return to family traditions in years to come., if you want.
Treat yourself with the gentleness your grieving heart needs.
Ask for what you need. Don’t expect your family and friends to anticipate your feelings or to understand. And try to forgive them when they don’t. Your sorrow is hard for them to watch and they want you to feel better.
Spend time with people who can be patient with your grieving. Trying to pretend you are "fine" takes way too much energy and will simply exhaust you even more.
If you want to participate in The Season, create a gesture that feels appropriate to your grief, such as, giving a gift in memory of your child or creating a traditional activity that recognizes your sorrow.
Leaning into sorrow, which is authentic, will be the most honest way to approach this holiday. After all, this is the season of Love that passes all understanding and losing a child is the most vivid way of getting in touch with that Mystery that I know.
Without a Love this big, we would not feel a sorrow this deep.