Many people celebrate and cherish the holiday season, hopping from party to party and loving every minute of it. Others dread all that it will bring, especially this year with a recent loss of a loved one, divorce or separation.
No matter at what end of the spectrum you find yourself, here are a few tips that will help you relate better to those struggling or will help if you are in a hard place yourself.
- Create new traditions! Find freedom in doing something new and different. Don’t force the old holiday routines that are laden with sorrow-inducing memories. Recognize that you have the freedom to let go of some things in favor of beginning a new, fresh chapter.
- What reminds you most of the loss in your life? It’s normal for there to be triggers that can be painful or shine a spotlight on your loss. Consider taking time to name triggers so that you can be prepared to recognize them as they come your way. Being aware that you are possibly walking into a tough situation will help you determine whether or not to participate…and, if you do participate, will help you avoid being completely blindsided.
- Resist the urge to fill your schedule with too many firm commitments. It’s OK to accept that it’ll be a tough season. Allow yourself the grace to be flexible and change plans at the last minute when necessary. When possible and appropriate, let others know that your RSVP will remain a “maybe” and that you may want to leave the event early.
- Whether connecting with close friends or distant aquaintences, you may not want to talk about your recent divorce or loss at social events. If you know that you’d like to avoid the subject, practice politely responding, “I really appreciate your concern, but I’d rather not talk about it right now.” Follow up asking a question about the other person to flip the conversation off of you and back to them.
- Be thankful. Even in the midst of the most challenging circumstances, consider making a list or choosing one thing each day for which you can be genuinely thankful.
- Choose what is manageable. If you previously had a house full of helpers, decorating your house like it belongs on a magazine cover may feel overwhelming. Give yourself permission to choose what is possible and special, making it meaningful and specific to you and letting the rest go.
- Ask your circle of closest friends to pray. The Holy Spirit is there to comfort you and sustain you. Inviting those who support and know you well to pray for you is an incredible privilege for them and a blessing to you.