The Holidays: It’s OK to NOT be OK

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If you are anything like most people right now, you may be anxious about all the impending doom of the holidays: finances, traveling, time off work, winter depression, and the list goes on.

We all have our worries. Mine tend to be more geared towards my mentality during all the Christmas fuss. Now don’t get me wrong, I love Christmas. I love the lights, the spirit of Santa Claus, the fun parties, and the traditions I have passed down to my children. However, I do not love the expectations, the stress of the perfect gift, the attempt to keep everyone happy, or anyone feeling let down.

holiday grief

”We bereaved are not alone. We belong to the largest company in the world—the company of those who have known suffering.” —Helen Keller

And for those who have experienced the worst of all this year—the loss of a loved one—grief can be incredibly difficult coming into this season. This will be my first Christmas in 40 years that I no longer have any living grandparents left. A few months ago, it was truly the end of an era. I was incredibly lucky to have known my two beautiful grandmothers for my entire life to this point, losing both of them within 1 year of each other.

I think of my own grief, but then I also think of a colleague who just lost her husband unexpectedly and what she will go through this holiday season. We all have those people in our lives; you may be that person in other’s lives.

I think of my dear friend who years ago lost her beautiful 5 month old little girl, as well as another friend who gave birth to her full term baby who was not breathing. I see all these grief-stricken people who I love, all in different stages of the process. For the ones who have inspired me, I can honestly say they faced their grief head on. Their grief did define the trajectory of their lives, but each of them used it to fuel something positive.

”Our greatest glory is not in never failing, but in rising every time we fall.” —Confucius

So, what does all this have to do with this holiday season? This is the time of year when depression truly hits a high for most people. Between the expectations, the stress, and mental strain, the holidays can really bring out a lot of negative feelings, especially in the face of grief or depression.

I am here to encourage you to not worry about the perfect Pinterest gift (if they really love you, they will understand). I am here to tell you to not worry about that dress up day at school for your kids (they will be fine). You do not have to buy that gift you cannot afford (kids are resilient). Cutting expectations out is very liberating, and can make you remember the true spirit of the season—all the while keeping your mental sanity. At the end of the day, if you do not take care of you, you cannot take care of anyone else.

It is OK to not be OK, but you have to know when you are not ok. Then, be able to admit it. If you do need professional help, do not hesitate to talk to your doctor about how you are feeling. I, too, have been that girl crying on the doctor’s table, unable to voice my emotions through my tear-stained eyes. Never be afraid to seek help. Know your limits, take time for yourself when you need it, and enjoy the holiday season to the best of your ability!

 

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