“Christmas is a holiday the persecutes the lonely, the frayed, and the rejected.”-Jimmy Cannon
The Christmas season is upon us. It is a bittersweet time for grievers. First Christmases without a loved one are difficult, of course. But it’s the second, third, and rest of the Christmases without your loved one that may be the saddest. The first year, you have a focus: making it through. The next, you think you’ve done it once, how hard can the second time be? And you let down your guard, and the reminder of a shortened gift list surprises you. Or you come upon a decoration, stocking, or other item that is no longer used and sadness creeps forth.
For grievers, Christmas can be a lonely time of year. We see presents perfect for our lost loved ones. We have one less laugh to hear, or place at the table to set or card to send. The person who decorated our home is gone and so is the festive décor. We have new life experiences to share and one less person to share them with. The cycle of holiday grief is never-ending; and its triggers change every year.
This pandemic year, we have more loss, more loneliness, more separation. Check on one another. Frequently. Loneliness is a real problem, and the inability to spend holidays with family members and friends who have recently lost loved ones will make loneliness even more heavy this year.
Don’t be afraid to ask people how they are doing. Don’t be afraid to ask grievers about their loved ones. Don’t be afraid to share stories and memories of holidays past; the mentions and chuckles can help ease the loneliness. If you’re a griever, don’t be afraid to reach out to others if you feel overwhelmed, lonely, or sad. Don’t be afraid to say you are lonely.
Go out of your way this year to really be there for your neighbors, family, and friends. Include more people in your virtual celebrations. Have more virtual holiday parties and “open houses.” Find a way to “watch” holiday movies together. Give the gift of being remembered this holiday season. It doesn’t cost very much, but its impact is deeper than any store bought item you can find.