Holding Space for Grief During the Holidays.
With December fast approaching and Thanksgiving already behind us, I want to take a time out and talk about holding space for grief during the holidays. For most, the holidays are filled with wonderful family traditions that help bring the spirit of the season alive. For people who are grieving the holidays are a brutal reminder of all that they have lost, it could be your first holiday season without your loved one or it could be your 20th, regardless it can be extremely hard to feel the typical joy and cheer of this month. What I am asking both those who are grieving and the friends and family of those who are grieving to do is to hold so much space for grief. What I mean when I say Hold Space is to allow room in your life for grief. Let it be there, sit with it, find comfort around it and have empathy for those who are grieving.
To those who are grieving: This sucks. It sucks having to celebrate the Holidays without the person who you thought would be in your life for longer. It. Just. Sucks. My plan on surviving the first Christmas without my daughter is to live by the vomit rule. I read about this rule in the book. It’s Okay That You’re Not Okay by Megan Devine. The vomit rule is if the situation or activity that you have been asked to do makes you feel like you want to vomit Do Not Do It! This rule gives you permission to say no to your family traditions if they make you feel like vomiting. It gives you permission to skip family dinner or putting up decorations and instead watch Die Hard at home (which my husband assures me is in fact a Christmas movie). It gives you permission to move through this holiday season however you need to, to survive. This my loves is the ultimate self-care that you can do for yourself. In the wonderful grief group that my husband and I attended we have talked about how it is sometimes necessary to be a bit selfish. What I mean when I say that is we have to put ourselves first, we need to take care of ourselves and not put ourselves into situations that will drain us, hurt us or make this season of coming together suck more than it already will. Just listen to your gut, if you feel like it will be too much to handle it is okay to say no. At the same time it is always okay to change your mind. If you have said yes but get there and it feel awful, it is okay to leave and the opposite, if you have said no but in fact feel like you will find more comfort doing said activity that do it. Just make sure that all the while you are holding space for your grief, it may be heavier during this time.
To the family and friends of the grievers: Please, please, please hold space for your loved ones while they grieve. Not just now but as much as possible. Please understand that traditions may be hard and might have to be skipped for a year or two or more. Please understand that while your family is all together your loved one who is grieving may feel the emptiness of the one they have lost more heavy and intense, it may be all they are thinking about, it may make them what to change plans or hide in the bedroom and cry. This is where it is hard to, but very important to hold space for them. Just give them love, time and space. Try not to take it personally if their heart is too heavy to participate this season. Also, please, please, please do not use platitudes such as “everything happens for a reason”, “God needed another angel” or anything like that. It is not helpful and rarely brings any comfort at all. Instead empathize with them, and if you do not know what to say sit with them in silence, reach out and hold them, show them that you are there and will always be there. That is holding space.
My love goes out to everyone who is carrying the heaviest thing this holiday season. Take it easy on yourself. You are not alone.
Feel free to comment on how you keep your loved one’s you have lost in your hearts during the holiday season.