Facing the Holidays

“Facing the holidays,” is a common complaint from those who have experienced the loss of a loved one.  The Christmas season can bring back many memories of those in our lives who have passed away. 

Everywhere we go, there are reminders that it “tis the season to be jolly,” Christmas music fills the air, the stores are filled with people shopping for the special person in their lives. People rush about wishing one another “Merry Christmas” while you feel like going in the other direction.

One of the most over-powering feelings that you may experience following the death of a loved one is that of being alone. Many share this same feeling. Christmas and other special occasions remind us that the person we loved so deeply is no longer there to share these occasions with us, your heart may be heavy and the desire to be left alone or to be given some space is not uncommon.

As the holidays approach, you may anticipate the worst and when the day finally arrives you will manage to get through it. You may shed a tear or two but you will get through it. You may be a person who traditionally went to all lengths in preparing for Christmas. This year you may feel overcome with fear and feel extreme anxiety over how the preparations will be made.  You may feel like you would like to run and hide and avoid the holidays altogether this year.  You may have feelings of guilt if you change a Christmas tradition this year or went to a Christmas party and actually had a good time.  It may be difficult to find a balance between what your family and friends want you to do and what you want to do.

On top of these feelings, you may feel some of the symptoms of grief that you felt at the time of death; anger, loneliness, sadness, depression and anxiety, this isn’t a step back to a phase you thought you had already survived, it is the reality that your loved one is not physically here to share the season with you. The holiday season has a way of bringing back some of those feelings but it is only temporary.