The most wonderful time of the year can also be the most painful. While the holidays are joyful and full of activity, if you’re grieving a recent or past loss, the holidays can hurt. Perhaps you recently lost someone you love—a parent, a grandparent, or a friend. Maybe you lost a pregnancy and the hope of having a new baby at Christmas. Or perhaps you’re grieving a relationship that ended. You were supposed to celebrate the holidays together, but instead, you are apart.
Christmas can intensify our feelings of loss.
When we see delight around us, we are reminded of what we don’t have. I ache for my mother and father at Christmas. Christmas day was my father’s favorite day of the year, and he spent months thinking of unique gifts for each of us. My mother decorated every nook and cranny of our home. I see the look on their faces when we came down Christmas morning. I see my nephew sitting on my dad’s lap.
We ache for what we have no more, and we mourn what we never had—these are the roots of sadness at Christmas.
If this is you this Christmas—and it is many of us—by remembering to do two simple things, you can still feel hope during this season, or at least hope along with your pain.
Tend to your body.
I often urge parents and others to slow down during the holidays and not try and attend every single event and participate in every activity. I say this to help you cut back on the stress and anxiety that so often accompany this time of year.
But this goes for those who are grieving too. Remember to take care of your body first before saying yes to events to distract yourself or because you feel like you have to. Whatever is happening to your mind—sadness, grief, despair—is also happening to your body. Tend to your body, especially during the holiday season, by going to bed a little earlier, eating a healthy diet, and exercising enjoyably. You will be amazed at how these body-focused activities will affect your heart and mind.