Not everyone likes the holiday season. In fact, as a therapist, I am very aware of the many people who are stressed and unhappy this time of year. Just today I spoke with several clients who are grieving the death of a loved one, a heartbreak, or a divorce. Some of my clients are not having good childhood holiday memories because they have not resolved memories of child abuse. Maybe you are struggling this year…
I can think back on holidays in my own life that were sad. In my own childhood, I was very aware that the Christmas when I was nine years old was not the same as other holidays. My parents were broke and my mother was sick. The tree was put up the day before Christmas instead of weeks in advance and the presents under the tree were different, more necessities than toys. I distinctly remember being disappointed that one of my presents was a pair of snow boots, not that I would have ever complained. Another year I recall going through a terrible heartbreak during the holidays, and spending time with friends who fortunately took me in. My heart was a mess. Another year, I was devastated and grieving my son’s health diagnosis.
We all desperately want to have good cheer during the holidays. Thank goodness some years have more joy and peace on earth than others. But it’s not always like that. And, if this is one of those years for you, please keep this in mind:
- Take solace in knowing that you are not alone. Millions of other Americans are stressed because they wish they had more money to provide a better Christmas – or they are grieving a loss. Or they are suffering through a health problem or a divorce or they are dreading seeing that family member they have conflict with.
- Identify who your support system is in advance. If you need support here, we have room for urgent same day appointments and phone consultations during the holiday season.
- Balance out time for your grieving and your holiday gatherings. It’s important to still go to holiday parties and gatherings, however it is also completely fine to give yourself permission to not stay as long. Social isolation will not help your grief so it’s important to not skip the holidays altogether. However, it’s good to drive separately and have exit strategies to take breaks or walks or to leave early if you feel that you need to.
- Talk to an objective friend or therapist about relationship conflicts going on during the holidays. These can be particularly difficult given that we all want to have merry and bright during the holidays – not fighting and problems – but sometimes the latter is true … so reach out for help and support as needed.
This Friday on my Radio Show, you can call with any relationship advice questions, including questions about how to cope during the holidays with a particular problem. Or you can call in just for emotional support. Remember, if you are grieving and feel trapped and terrible during the holidays, you are not alone. Please Contact Us for more support and guidance during the upcoming days and weeks.