…for those struggling through them
While Christmas Day is still a happy memory to most, some of us do suffer through the holiday season. True, that may sound a bit melodramatic – unless you’re one of those suffering ones…
I always wondered how people could not be happy around the holidays. I mean, ok, maybe you did experience some tragedy or have a painful memory or loss sometime in the past around this time, but, really, with all the joy and music and gift-giving and partying and children’s laughter…how hard could it be to push it aside for a while, right?
I hate that I often have to go through the school of hard knocks to learn something. How I sometimes have to “walk a mile” to be empathetic. Are you ever like that? I’m not bashing myself, mind you, but I just wish sometimes it wouldn’t have to actually experience something in order to “get” a lesson or two…
For the past few years, Christmas has been difficult for me, but it has allowed me to really understand how many people have been handling grief during this season of joy; some of you for years. Losing my dad just days before Christmas a few short years ago wasn’t exactly unexpected, and I will ne-ver forget that punch-in-the-stomach I felt when I got the call. And so, each December since, at some point and seemingly from out-of-the-blue, a wave of grief washes over me, often without an obvious source. Unless you count whenever I hear Bing Crosby sing “White Christmas,” which was daddy’s favorite Christmas song…
A good friend of mine shared some wisdom with me on just this topic:
With the emphasis on love and beauty, Christmas may actually accentuate the loss and the lack of your life. But there is good news. God has a plan for your healing—a way for you to deal with pain. He does not intend for you to limp through a season of the year or life in general. He opens ways for you to learn from any situation and move forward. The movement from depression to joy does not happen with a snap of the fingers. God works through His Spirit and invites you to participate in the process.
Isn’t that just wonderful? So first let me share with you some tried-and-true techniques I’ve used over the past few years as I’ve sought to “participate in the process”…
1) Embrace them
I know that sounds strange, but if you stop fighting your feelings, take some time to allow yourself to feel blue, and recognize that it’s only natural, that alone helps to remove quite a bit of the stress of making yourself feel something you’re not… (‘Least it’s worked for me!) Carve some time out to reminisce about who or what you’re missing, and you may find the memories of a sweet holiday time with family, or a fun party where you caught up with old friends will bring a smile to your face and lift your mood.
2) Do an activity you enjoy
Pick up a good book (or the one you started before Christmas!), paint your nails, listen to music, go for a walk, play a video game with your kids, watch a comedy or a funny video – you know, they say laughter is the best medicine! And sometimes just getting involved in an activity you enjoy will bring happy results.
3) Spend time with someone you love
Go out for lunch with your hubby, or call a friend and meet for a cup of coffee: the important thing here is not the activity so much as the company you’re keeping. Volunteer in the community or get involved in a service project with a friend, Covid-willing. But honestly, you don’t have to do ANYthing if you have one of those friends who enjoy just being with you <3!
4) Maintain healthy habits.
God wired you so that your physical health affects your emotional wellbeing. During the holidays, it’s tempting to sleep fewer hours, eat the wrong things, and cut exercise from the daily routine. Take a nap if you need to, and make sure you get some “me time” in, too. If you’ve missed a day or two of exercise or have overdone the Christmas treats, don’t completely abandon healthy living. Make a commitment to your physical health and you will see improvement in the way you feel.
5) Daydream or plan the potential in the coming year
If you’ve read the blog for any amount of time, you know this time each year I talk about approaching the coming year with intention. If you don’t “do” New Year’s resolutions, consider coming up with a Word or Verse for the year, and then start imagining how it might play out. At the very least, jot down some notes on what you’d like to accomplish this year: a new project, a family vacation, you know, something big, and start sketching our what you have to do to make it happen!
The articles below may also provide some idea for you. Whether you’re “just” singing the blues this holiday season, experiencing generalized depression, or reeling from deep grief, you’re sure to find soothing words and thoughts among them…
Some other helpful posts:
- Find one thing (craft, talent, or new skill) and learn to do it well
- Play uplifting music with this playlist of encouraging songs…
- Go through an excellent devotional. This is a great one tailored to homeschoolers.
- Comfort a grieving friend… Getting our eyes off of our own pain and problems always helps our perspective
If you’re struggling with grief, my thoughts and prayers are with you during this holiday/winter season. Please consider reaching out – I’d be honored to pray for you… Do you have any insights to share with others in the comments?