They say the first year after losing a loved one is the hardest because it’s when you experience all the firsts without them. The holiday season can be especially tough, as a season that is supposed to be filled with joy can be overshadowed by grief. While others are carrying on with fun and happiness, those who are healing through grief can feel unheard and unseen.
I know this all too well. My mom went to Heaven in 2006 about a week after Thanksgiving. To have Christmas not even a month later was very difficult. I felt like everyone else was celebrating the holiday, and I was just there, numb to it all. It was just another day that I had to endure and hoped to get through.
I have friends and family that are experiencing this now. The thing that I would want them to know is to give yourself grace. Allow yourself the space to heal. Give yourself permission to say no, but also leave enough space open for people to hold you up through this season.
As families gather together this holiday season, if someone in your family is dealing with holiday grief, show up for them in special ways. Don’t expect them to reach out and don’t take things personal. Find ways to bring them hope.
Grief is hard enough as it is. It’s a journey that we all must face at some point as a result of love. But it’s not a journey that anyone must face alone. And it is a journey where you will come out on the other side with a peace that goes beyond understanding and a joy that cannot be contained.
Painting: C. Gilbert