Dealing with the loss of a loved one is never easy, especially during the holidays. People always say that Christmas is the most wonderful time of the year. But for some, the holidays can be a time of loneliness, isolation, and depression due to loss and tragedy. For some, Christmas is the hardest time of the year.
The Burden of the Holidays
With the holidays quickly approaching, Cody and I realize that there are people who are hurting during this season. While everyone is finishing their gift wrapping and hosting office parties, there are people who truly despise Christmas. The holidays can be a harsh reminder of loss and pain when everyone else is gathering with their friends and family.
Recently, Cody lost his mother due to heart complications this past summer. Even though Christmas is heavily celebrated in our home, we understand just how tough the holidays can be. We understand the heartache and pain of missing her dearly. Before we spoke about our favorite traditions and holiday decorating, we knew we had to talk about the downside to Christmas. While it’s great to celebrate with your friends and family, we know that there will be moments of remembrance. There will be awkward silence and random bursts of emotions. But it is something that we feel like we have to talk about. You have to talk about the hard parts in order to be able to heal and focus on the good times.
This week, Cody and I asked a few people to share their stories of recent loss and tragedy during the holidays. We talked about the emotional baggage the holidays can bring and how hard it can be just walking past department stores. But we also talked about how to reflect on the good times and keeping the memories alive. We talked about how it’s okay to keep old traditions or start new traditions.
The Joy of the Holidays
But most importantly, when we asked our guests to talk about their stories, we talked about the aspect of a community.
There isn’t a “right” or “wrong” way to celebrate the Holidays. For some, it means ordering takeout and having a game night with your friends. For others, it means keeping the old tradition of decorating the Christmas tree after Thanksgiving dinner. We can have joy in knowing that we are still able to celebrate with our friends and family who are with us. There may be pain, but there can also be joy and healing.
One of the greatest things Cody and I experienced with the passing of his mother was the community that encamped around us. We constantly had an outpouring of love from our friends and family. We were offered meals when we didn’t have the energy to cook food. People visited us at our job to take the load off when we didn’t have the capacity to deal with our emotions. People showed up.
I think that is the best thing about the holidays. People showing up and being there for others. Sometimes tragedy doesn’t end in loss of a person but it can mean having a financial burden. By having someone step up and help pay off some of your bills or buy your kid’s Christmas presents can mean the world. Honestly, I think that’s what people mean when they say that Christmas is the most wonderful time of the year. Compassion and emotion tend to flourish around this time of year. A community can be one of the strongest things that help keep families together for the holidays.
If you know someone who is hurting this holiday season, reach out and extend a hand or a hug. Be someone’s shoulder to cry on. Be there for your friends when they’re ready to discuss their emotions. Bring someone a meal if they don’t have the energy to put something together. Offer a game night to release the awkward tension of not knowing what to say.
Strengthen the community around you. The holiday season is longing for it.