When someone significant in your life is no longer here to celebrate the holidays, it’s tempting to shove thoughts and preparations surrounding celebrations to the back, with perhaps the unspoken hope they’ll quietly slip away without your attention. Unfortunately, whether or not you ignore the holiday festivities, the feelings remain.
Every year on my deceased daughter’s birthday and death date, I take the day off work and make sure to have her favorite – a root beer float. To me those acknowledgements feel both over the top (taking the day off of work) and minor (really – a root beer float is it? Shouldn’t it be some bigger ceremony?). Today my life looks nothing like it did when Alison died. I’ve built a great life out of the ashes of grief and yet I still observe those dates. I learned the importance of creating a seat the hard way.
About five years ago, after more than ten birthdays and death dates, I got cocky. I bought the root beer float makings, but decided to forgo taking the day off. My life was good, I was happy and content, and I wasn’t feeling heavy coming into the day. Once I started work I could feel the emotions pushing their way in, fighting for airtime. I pushed them down since they were surfacing at an impractical moment. I got off work early, had another root beer float and gave the memories and emotions their due. And here’s the thing…it only took a few minutes, What they needed was to know they were honored, heard, and seen.
Prep for the Holidays
This time of year can often serve as a catalyst for bringing to the forefront uncomfortable situations, memories, and feelings. It can feel easier to run from them through a wide variety tactics like numbing out, tuning out, focusing on other people’s dramas, trying to live in a perpetual “happy” place, or blowing up at seemingly unrelated situations. I invite you to lean into the uncomfortable, to not only lean in, but create a seat for it – inviting it be part of your experience.
Before you suddenly find yourself swept up in the calendaring of events, the demands on your time from obligations, and gatherings I invite you to take stock. Get in touch with yourself and what you need to stay sane. Be deliberate in the invitations you accept and those you decline. Instead of doing what you’ve always done because it’s always been done, examine whether or not it feeds your soul or drains your spirit. Create a seat – the space to honor your loved one. Ask yourself how you want that honoring to look? Do you want to do it alone or invite others to be part of it?
This holiday season may not be easy, but you can make it easier by planning ahead and carving out ways you want to remember and honor your loved one.
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