As the Christmas season is upon us, for many it can be a difficult time of grief. I'm not writing this for everyone, but for those who have been affected by a loss, in which case, this could be everyone.
Grief can be difficult, but especially during the Christmas season. It's okay to not be happy all the time, to find yourself unable to sing the carols, to just cry when the whoosh of a memory comes flooding in. Others may have forgotten about your loss, but your life has changed. This may be a year of just opting out of some of the events. Maybe going into a crowd is difficult so purchasing gift cards is a good option for this year. If this season is bringing unrelenting stress, perhaps making a new priority list is needed. Purchased baking can make life easier, eliminate or reschedule events until the new year, or even delegate some errands or tasks on your list. Take a night off to just relax. Fill that popcorn bowl and watch your favorite Christmas movie, grab a friend and some hot chocolate and drive around looking at lights. Maybe you want/need to do something not Christmas. That's okay. You may find some days just overwhelming. Remember that you aren't alone! There are a lot of people processing grief during this season.
You may find that because of this underlying grief - anger, frustration or impatience may just show up. You may be tired, your memory may be lacking, or your focus be not as well-tuned as usual. These are all natural responses. With extra seasonal stress added onto your emotions, you'll need to be careful and sensitive to others as well. They may not understand what journey you're walking through. As a family, you may be processing your grief differently than each other. You may discover that you have a strong need to be around family or close friends. Or, you may want to be alone. There is no right or wrong way to process. It's all okay.
Be kind ... to yourself and others! Everyone is going through something!
With so many emotions, so many memories, and not knowing what to do with the traditions, it can make us want to stop, and just not do anything.
So, how can we bring the memories into this season without the people who brought them to us? We miss them, and we want to celebrate their memory as well. I've come up with some decorating ideas you may want to try. Some you maybe already do. I hope you'll share your thoughts.
1. Dad's photo in a tree ornament.
2. Silver platters can be used for table centerpieces. Gma's wine glasses as candle holders.
3. Childhood Christmas photo framed in retro family frame. Great-Gpa's camera on display.
4. Mom's small silver tray used as a wreath to hang.
5. Gma's typewriter used to hold Santa's letter.
6. A photo book. It's so easy to open a book and share the special memories.
7. Gma's punch bowl filled with retro glass ornaments. Perfect display for a centerpiece.
8. Mom's traditional favorite recipe. If not used, perhaps display the actual recipe in their handwriting.
If there was always a tradition that has become important to you, continue it if possible. It may not look the same, but the memories will be blended into the new version. This may be the time to eliminate the not-so-favorite annual things - like that jellied salad, or watching that "special" movie every Christmas Eve. This may be the year to start your own completely new activities - like volunteering at a soup-kitchen, or inviting friends to join your Christmas meal. Change can feel strange, but it's okay to try something new.
As families evolve, the traditions and faces around the table will transition into something new. It's a season built around love. By being intentional, and respectful of each other, your memories will continue to be your treasured gifts!
May you have a Peace-Filled Christmas!