I’m sure most of us would agree that the opposite of happiness is sadness. Why on earth would I want to sit with that? Sitting with grief, especially during the holidays. I mean, hello, Happy Holidays, right? Good grief, Becky.
Before we go any further, I want you to know that my heart is not to minimize or make light of anyone experiencing grief during the holidays. Quite the opposite, actually. It is very real, and it’s awful. I know that pain firsthand, friends. I also know that people cope with sadness in a variety of ways. Sarcasm bubbles up as one of my coping mechanisms from time to time.
It’s a defense mechanism, and I know it. A way not to feel the very real feelings of grief and sadness that bombard my heart, soul, and mind. So I deflect and diffuse. Sitting with grief during the holidays seems completely counterintuitive to what I think would be best.
The only way through something is through it.
The cost of living and loving is hurt. There’s just no way around it.
We might be tempted to push grief aside, and ignore it during the holidays because the holidays are supposed to be happy. People weren’t designed to carry the weight of the world, yet we still have to deal with it in some way. That often involves sitting with the sadness, even during the holidays.
Grief and sadness will teach you what joy and happiness can’t.
You can only ignore it for so long. Take a deep breath, and sit with it.
Sitting with sadness.
What might it look like to sit with grief during the holidays? The five stages of grief can provide some insight for us. For those that aren’t familiar with it, this model states that people typically go through the following emotions when experiencing grief: denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance.
These stages aren’t necessarily meant to happen in order. It’s actually closer to reality that we weave in, out, back, and forth through them. Acceptance may take a lifetime, if it ever comes at all. We might spend a lot of time in one stage, or even feel like we’ve skipped through one or a few others.
Grief is heavy, and when we slow down enough to let that sink in, we can acknowledge that we are doing the very best that we can.
Sitting with grief during the holidays gives us an opportunity to extend compassion to ourselves.
Some reminders about grief.
- The grieving process can’t be rushed, no matter how uncomfortable or inconvenient it is.
- The grieving process looks different for everyone, which makes it hard to know when people might be grieving.
- Grief isn’t limited to the loss of a loved one who has passed away. You can grieve the loss of things, the loss of hope, the loss of relationships with living people, and much more.
Therapist Nedra Glover Tawwab lists more grief reminders here.
She also describes what strength might look like, which I thought would be helpful to share too. When we’re grieving, it’s hard to see any good that’s happening around, in, or through us.
Sometimes strength might look like getting out of bed in the morning. It might look like crying instead of holding it in. It could even look like not doing what you normally do for the holidays.
The strength to say, “No. I’m not quite ready to handle that yet.”
No matter who or what you’re grieving, it is never an easy process. It takes time. For some losses, it will take a lifetime. Sitting with grief during the holidays will require so much patience from us.
The more we sit with grief, the stronger we become.
“We do not grow when moments are comfortable or even pain-free. We grow when we sit, when we endure, when we can be with the discomfort and realize, ‘Oh, hey, I’m still here.'” Jeff Goins
As the Christmas season approaches, I pray for fresh grace to sit with our grief. May there be faith to endure with strength. A strength that is accessed through weakness.
Strength we can only experience when we sit with our grief.