It’s not just the holidays. It could be other days as well. Birthdays, a remembrance of a look or a smell, a season or anniversary or when that happened. It is, however, all about connection. That’s what we miss most when the holidays make their appearance.
Connection with others and at times connection with ourselves. Sometimes we don’t allow that “I hate this, I miss them, when will I move past this?” part of ourselves to feel. Instead, we count the days until the holidays are over with or that one day in between Christmas and when Valentine’s Day promotions begin. Getting through the days can be grueling, our soul blistered from loss.
Healing through the holidays? With so many reminders of what is not present. Is it really possible? Yes, I think it is possible to move toward healing during this season as it is possible to move forward toward healing each day. That is the core of it. We only heal a bit at a time – a day at a time. It can be helpful to ground ourselves in some truths.
Healing takes time. Our society often rushes us as if the grief and loss we bear has an expiration date. No one is “over it” on a time expectation. Whether there is a physical death, an assault of any kind, a relapse that caused great or greater destruction, our bodies and our minds need time to process and they don’t always process hand in hand. So, truth #1: Be patient and gentle with the feelings of loss and the wish that things are not as they are.
Truth #2: We are built for connection. Our entire existence is connected with others. We were born out of connection – literally. And that is what makes healing so hard. Humans have hurt us in some way and other humans in caring respectful interactions can help heal us. However, sometimes, we are so fractured we can’t trust humans and then animals can provide the unconditional acceptance that is needed for healing. It’s not unusual for a resident at Busara to dream about, facetime, or long for their pet. It has been their place of safety.
I often think about how brave people are as they go through life doing the daily of life. Yet underneath there is great pain or loss and we never see it. We see their smile, kindness, or competence on the job. We never know how hard it has been for them to get through the day.
I experienced this last month when I was on a call discussing the provision of services for an organization. The call went really well which I was excited about. When the email came for a proposal of services, I decided to be vulnerable and share that my father had recently died and that I needed a bit of time before I could put some training together. The company representative shared that their father had died the day before mine. We were both being very brave and upbeat on that call, never knowing the mourning that was beneath the smile and professionalism. Sharing that information has allowed our relationship to develop in a very unexpected way.
Truth#3: Sharing helps to heal because it highlights we are not alone. Others are experiencing their own healing journey. Our words of understanding and comfort really can make a difference. Choose those whom you trust to share your story; not everyone needs to know the deepest parts of our soul, but many can provide a soothing touch and it does make a difference. We are connected by the common need to be known and understood.
Truth #4: Honor the memory or memories of your survival and those you love. Honor your strength and the hope that lies within for a better day and a better life. You can do this by noticing your level of peace and balance as you go through your days.
Take these truths, add your own, and heal well my friend.
By: Gail A. Chester
Psychologist, PhD, LPCS, LMFT., Author