Grief, Depression & the Holidays

The holiday season is so festive for some. But for those of us who have lost a loved one, or who don’t have family close by, or whose life circumstances have changed ~ a divorce, a breakup, or bad feelings amongst family members or friends ~ these are difficult days.

I have wonderful memories of holidays when my home was filled with laughter and joy. But my dad and brother are gone, all my favorite uncles have also passed, and even though I cherish my memories, they also evoke a tinge of sadness for all that is lost forever.

This year, my 19-year-old son (and only child) is going to his girlfriend’s house for Christmas Eve. I am so happy that he will enjoy her family, but it’s just another reminder of how small my family circle is.

As many people reach out to me through my coaching practice to share how painful this time of year feels, I want to share with you some of the ways I have dealt with this sadness during the holidays. I have learned to create new traditions and circumstances, so I am not overcome with grief about my dwindling clan.

I have chosen to see these times as opportunities to create different memories. One year we went to Colonial Williamsburg to experience an 18th century style Christmas. We spent a Thanksgiving in the Adirondacks surrounded by strangers who were also enjoying the cozy cabin, bed and breakfast environment and the lovely home cooked meal the accomplished chef/inn owner made for us. We embraced these experiences even though we would have rather been surrounded by loving family and friends. Life doesn’t always look like a Hallmark movie.

If you find yourself alone during the holidays, think about the kind of life you would like to create for yourself. Is there someplace you’d like to visit? Can you find a friend to take a trip with you? Can you find an organization that runs these trips? Even though you will be with strangers, and it may be completely out of your comfort zone, it can be a lot of fun to connect with new people. In the future, could you invite friends over? Someone I know hosts a Thanksgiving brunch every year and invites her friends. I love this idea. It’s early enough in the day where people can stop by if they have other plans, but it brings everyone together to spend quality time, smile, enjoy some good food, laugh, share stories, and then be on their way. It sounds so satisfying that my husband and I will probably do something similar in the next couple of years. We are also talking about a Caribbean Thanksgiving experience. I think it will be fun to celebrate Thanksgiving on a beach!

We are always thinking ahead and planning our holidays so they are fulfilling, memorable and make us feel good. There are times when I love staying home to relax and read a good book. I have learned to experience true bliss in this solitude and the warmth of our home.

I wish you peace, love, and joy. Even if you don’t celebrate Christmas, I hope you feel the hope that the next few days bring. And if you are alone or feeling sad, I encourage you to think about what you can create for yourself and your future. I know it isn’t always easy, but life is meant to be lived and experienced. When I look at life from this perspective, I take extra care to choose how I spend my days and who is a part of my life. It has brought me a newfound joy and contentment.

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Georgette is a self-help author and mindset coach. Her books offer simple ways to enjoy a life of love, joy and abundance. Available at: georgettevanvliet.com

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Georgette Van Vliet

Georgette Van Vliet

Georgette is a self-help author and mindset coach. Her books offer simple ways to enjoy a life of love, joy and abundance. Available at: georgettevanvliet.com

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