This is a wonderful time of year but one that we have finally acknowledged in our culture to be fraught with problems for many.
Yes, it can certainly be a time of fun and anticipation, gift buying, gift giving, wonderful foods. Christmas. Hannukah. Kwanzaa. Family. Friends. But holiday times are particularly difficult for those of us who have lost our partners or a loved one because we tend to reminisce and remember past holiday seasons with those we have lost, which magnifies our loss. For many of us, holiday cheer isn't so cheerful. In fact, it just reinforces the fact that we are alone.
If this is the first year that some of you are experiencing being alone at the holidays, the pain of your loss may be exquisite. For some who have gotten through the first year or years, the holidays may be easier to get through.
I offer here ten tips we can use to help ourselves through the holiday season. They apply not only to those who have lost a loved one but to anyone who is alone during the holidays and wishing not to be. These come from my personal experience and so I am confident of their usefulness.
1. Don't run from the pain. Cry if you need to. Get angry! Take a tennis racket and hit a big pillow with it. Shout out your rage. Use obscenities if you want to. (Best done in privacy!) Be honest about your emotions. They are real and you hurt. If you let the feelings out they will ease and you will be able to find some joy in the holiday season.
2. Let someone know you are alone and would like some company. Often we have no family nearby, friends are occupied and forget that we don't have anyone to be with, so it can be a very tough time. More often than not, they are happy to include us in their plans. But they cannot read our minds. We have to let them know.
3. Find others who are alone and invite them to share your own table. There are many people out there who share our feelings and circumstance. Together we can have a lovely enriching time. Ask them to bring something they love to eat on the holidays so that all will be feasting on favorite foods and learning about what others enjoy.
4. Nurture yourself. I should have put a few stars next to this one because it is so important. Sometimes we prefer to be alone rather than in the company of others...too much noise...too much gaiety...too much talk when that's the last thing we want to do. So, stay home and treat yourself as beautifully as you would a guest. Buy yourself flowers. Cook yourself a lovely dinner. Put on your favorite music. This is the time to concentrate on you and give yourself the love and attention you would give to someone else. YOU are the most important person in your life.
5. Rent your favorite funny movie. One sure to make you laugh. A hearty laugh is as therapeutic as a good cry. My friend loves ‘Meatballs' and ‘Sleeper' when she is downhearted. I tend to the Marx Brothers or the silliness of Monty Python. Whatever you love. Watch it and laugh!
6. Volunteer to serve a meal at a shelter or soup kitchen. Your help will be greatly appreciated and you will be reaching out and touching others with your good will. Something that always makes us feel good and of value..
7. Create a ritual that has meaning for yourself. For instance: write a note or a prayer to your loved one, or one for yourself and your new life. Put it in a balloon and let it fly. Whatever ritual you create will be the best one.
8. Be grateful. Keep a positive attitude about all you do have and focus less on what you have lost. It brings great rewards in terms of your well being. Write down what you are grateful for and keep it where you can see it.
9. Get out in Nature. Take a long walk or drive to a spot that gives you comfort and peace. It helps us realize that there is something much bigger than our own pain.
10. Give yourself permission to be happy. We sometimes feel disloyal to our lost loved one if we are having a good time, even in our own company. Allowing ourselves to enjoy the life we have paves the way to a fulfilling future.
Whatever you do, wherever you go, I wish you peace and blessings on your journey.