I just hung up the phone from chatting with a good friend. I had to give her the news that another one of my family members died this morning, the day after Thanksgiving. My friend, who I will refer to as Mae, was sadly not surprised. Mae understands how tough this time of year is, she gets it. Mae’s sister died the day after Christmas, 5 years ago. It was tragic and unexpected. And the holidays have become a painful reminder to Mae, of her sisters death. The holidays have become something that she survives through, endures perhaps. Avoids at best. She is certainly not alone in her feelings about the season, which in the US typically begins with Halloween and ends with New Years.
Growing up, Holidays were spent with large and elaborate parties. It was a magical time. It was also a time of innocence. Everything seemed to sparkle and glow. There was excitement and electricity in the air. And ingrained in all of these activities was tradition, culture, religious beliefs, family and friends, laughter, and love. Yet as I grew older the sparkle began to wither. Many of my beloved family members died. Traditions changed and ended. And I also began to observe that this time of year brought sadness with it. Sadness in regards to what was and what will never be, again.
As a Social Worker, I know about the grief during this season. The grief over loved ones dying, grief over the memories attached to the season, and grief of how to move forward. Grief is a normal and healthy reaction to loss. And a loss isn’t always the death of a person. It can be the death of something that was. Loss comes in many forms. Perhaps the loss of a relationship, job, financial stability, independence, or health. This season has an ending and a beginning. The end of one year and the beginning of another. With reflection, that can bring up loss also.
If you want to skip the holidays this year, it’s okay. You do not require anyone’s approval. You have to take care of you. That’s why they call it selfcare. I do recommend having some type of plan in place if you find your self struggling with a depressed mood during this season. An example, could be skipping holiday parties and shopping for gifts. And instead sending out thoughtful cards and attending a religious service. Whatever you decide, make it something that you’re comfortable with and holds meaning or value. My point being, more often than not, the little things are the big things. Focus on the little ones.
Resources & Help Available:
The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK.
The Crisis Text Line, text “HELLO”to 741-741.
http://www.healthline.com/health/depression/holidays (A great article on surviving the holidays).
Angie Simonton, LCSW-BACS