Coping With Loss and Stress at the Holidays

Petr Kratochvil ginger bread shapesThis time of year brings a polarity of love and loss. If you’ve lost a loved-one and they are not a part of the traditions, that wound stings, even as carolers sing high notes. Coping with loss and stress at the holidays is somehow harder than coping during other times of the year.

My brother died in his sleep of “unknown natural cause” on December 4th of 1977 and I still think of him with sadness this time of year. It’s not a fresh wound of course, but the holidays changed following his sudden unexpected death. There’s a reverence in my head and heart on December 4th, even all these years later. It lingers…a residue that has no place to go…it just wafts around me through the season.

If you experience great loss, traditional family holidays are a mix of emotions. Beginning with Thanksgiving in America, and continuing through about the first week of January has always been my favorite time of year in the States.

Generally, there’s a sense of kindness in the air, and wishes for “good tidings” abound. But if you’ve suffered a loss, or if you don’t feel the abundance gods have been smiling on you lately, the holidays might be a time when you want to hide your head under the covers and not come out until next Spring.

That’s probably not a healthy or reasonable option….

What works for me, especially following the death of my son and a move to Southern California where I have no relatives, is to create a little altar where I can add my loved-ones’ energy to the holiday cheer. It’s nothing fancy, but it gives me a place to direct some of my emotions, and to feel their presence in my life. I add a pine scented candle, and a few fancy accents to make it feel festive.

Pine Cones and Candles

I confess, I talk with them…or more accurately to them. I’ve yet to get a real response that came in the form of words, but I feel them. I know they like it….

If stress brought on by the expectations of the holiday is having a negative effect on you for whatever reasons, I have a suggestion for that too…no, it’s not to drink more egg nog! It’s to find your power place within, and to contemplate what the meaning of the season is, sans the retail aspect or the external illusions of how things “should” be.

One of my favorite Christmas holidays of all time was when I was a single mom with three kids under the age of 5, and I had very little money. I baked cookies. Lots of cookies! And since I had no decorations for the little tree, I strung the cookies by yarn on all the branches. It was an edible tree! Well, at least the decorations were edible!

Of course, I had to keep baking because as high up the tree as the kids could reach, the limbs were invariably bare! But the kids loved eating those sugar cookie ornaments and even though we didn’t have a lot, we had a lot of love. It’s still a cherished memory.

So if you’re allowing an energy of stress to threaten your lovely holiday, stop. Just stop. There is no reason to stress over something so beautiful that lives in your heart. The season is about love. PERIOD. It’s not about how much you give or get in gifts. It’s about how much love you give and receive. And this equation includes how much self-love you give to you!

Coping with loss and stress at the holidays need not take over your life and force you under the blankets. Just bake more cookies. And bake them with love. ♥♥

xox

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