We call this season the most wonderful time of the year but for many it can be the most difficult. If you are in the latter group, you undoubtably are caught in a mixture of hope and hurting. Even over the last two days, I have friends who have lost family and other loved ones. No matter what time of year loss is one of the deepest pains, but even more so at a time in which most people are enjoying family and friends. You want to smile, you know you are expected to be happy, but your spirit is just not having it. If you are blessed to have others around you who also feel the loss it helps. At least you can hurt together, talk about it, and hopefully even find some reasons to laugh as you remember.
The above picture is from Christmas Eve 2006, one week after my children lost their mom and I lost my wife. The smiles are genuine but not indicative of the emptiness inside. In fact it has been a 10 year journey in which we gradually have enjoyed Christmas more every year. Some years we took bigger strides and some smaller, often depending upon other life factors besides the loss, but now we are at a very happy place in our family. I’m not a fan of the phrase, “Time heals all wounds.” Instead, I think in time we adapt, grow, and begin anew if we are healthy. The grief doesn’t go away, we just start again, and that is our most powerful ability.
If it is Christmas Eve and you have lost someone today or ten years ago, you must strike the balance of remembering but also living in the present. If you can find some reasons to smile and laugh, do not hold it back or feel guilty. You are going to hurt so when you don’t, embrace it. This is one of your greatest healing gifts. Give yourself permission to be happy. If you know someone else who is hurting or lonely this Christmas, reach out to them. Helping someone else in pain is a good way to ease your own, at least for a while. You can’t force happiness but you can seek it. Your chances are much better of finding it if you make genuine efforts. Allow yourself to cry, allow yourself to laugh and begin anew.