It is beginning to look a lot like Christmas, we have passed the Thanksgiving stage and are entering the New Year. In the span of a month, these four weeks seem to run through the gamut of every emotion as we speed towards the beginning of a new chapter. Some people use these moments to reflect and renew, while others merely coast through waiting for the last of the confetti to blow away. Where commercialism and commerce have superseded compassion and goodwill, there is a portion of us that need the biggest bear hug for the issues of grief and loss.
When my brother passed away in the Summer of 2018, one of the great anchors of my life sank and a huge void was left. Even now, it is a tender topic for me, and at the time I just wanted to jump out of my skin. However, outside of my biological family, it was my brotherhood of bears that wrapped me up and allowed me to grieve as loudly or silently as I needed. They came together as a community to take care of me where I may have been lost otherwise. The reality of knowing as each year passes, there will be someone who may not be there in the new year with you. That first round of holidays and birthdays were extremely tough, but my tribe kept me afloat. Dealing with grief and loss during the holidays is indeed a tricky beast because you cannot pinpoint when it will hit you. As this time of year is about the tradition of celebrating and cheer, what do you do if you do not feel it?
Do not beat yourself up about the way you are feeling or minimize the emotions as they come in trickles and waves; Being strong for society does not mitigate the truth about your internal battle to smile when you feel sad. So many factors compound the grief and loneliness that come with this season. Being an outcast from their families, relationships ending, not having community, reminders of those gone on and the daily stress of the world.
Where do you stand? We just exited the Friendsgiving season and now here are the Christmas soirees and Happy New 2024 events. But grief is a lover no one wants to ever invite as their guest and always pops up unexpectedly and unwelcomed.
How will you choose to navigate what you need this time of the year? Time is moving at lightning speed and the atrocities of the world are becoming insurmountable. Finding joy daily is already a struggle for some, but compounded by the polarizing holiday images, commercialism and commerce replacing compassion and goodwill. The holidays have been rooted in the tradition of gathering and giving, celebrating family, love in a festive way. It seems as if everyone is filled with an extra abundance of cheer. However, the challenge is for people as the weight of the year sits heavy, is wanting to move forward and how without feeling like its not fake. It can be overwhelming and the constant reminders of what is missing can seem like a chasm between the heart and soul.
Which is why I relate how we cope with big bear hugs! Those provide comfort, warmth, the best cuddles, safety, love, and a respite from the woes of the world. There is nothing better than finding solace in the arms of a warm, protective bear. Even for the moment you can breathe your pain and tears into them, and they understand.
Some things I recommend helping us all through this time!
- Try to be healthy in mind, body, and spirit. (As this time approaches, begin to set boundaries about the spaces you enter, the energy you allow around you and to be connected to the things that will help you heal)
- Think of those moments that brought you joy with lost loved ones and relationships. (When grief does come, think of a memory that reminds you of the good things that happened in those moments)
- Celebrate yourself for making it this far. (Look in the mirror and applaud yourself through tears for still being in the game and navigating life the best you can!)
- Begin to focus on what the new year will bring for you and your goals. (Look at the upcoming year as a new chapter and begin planning out how you want it to look and make lists and goals for yourself)
- Allow yourself to feel what you need to feel without feeling guilty about it. (When you do not want to celebrate and do not feel social, do not allow yourself to feel obligated to be anywhere or do anything that will make you uncomfortable.)
- Surround yourself with positive energy and people (Those who get it!) For everyone, friends and family are the greatest comfort to getting over and through traumatic experiences and sadness. It can be merely the presence of someone that can make the moment better.
- Big Bear Hugs (Seek out the biggest, warmest, most comforting, and loving hugs filled with light, laughter, and bright energy) **preferably from your favorite bear**
Have a great Holiday Season Everyone!!