Navigating the holidays

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During the holiday season, we can become acutely aware of our losses and griefs, of our sadness and pain.

On the one hand we can feel pressured to pretend everything is happy-clappy. On the other, the awareness of who and what is missing in our lives can increase.

There's no one "right way" to make it through this experience.

Being clear about what matters most to us can help. Do you most want quiet? Do you prefer small groups of people close to you? Do you prefer to have someone with you as often as possible? Do you want to repeat favorite traditions or create new ones?

Sometimes we do not know the "right" way until we walk several steps in the "wrong" direction. Learning our new selves and coming to our new normal might take many tries. Let's be gentle with ourselves as we explore what it means to be ourselves in today's reality.

One of the practices that is helpful to me is to attend a small gathering that acknowledges the mixed nature of living the holidays. All of our lives have circumstances that are different than we want them to be. When we gathered the other night we lit candles, shared our stories of loss, read comforting words and sang songs that focused on hope even in dark times.

Acknowledging what is real, bringing the darkness out into the light, helps me. Sharing the truth with trusted people reminds me that I am not alone.

What has helped you to navigate the holiday season given the realities of your circumstance? How are you taking care of yourself in the midst of the expectations of this season? What are your plans over the next few weeks?

If you are in a place of health and peace at the moment, what would you have offered yourself as words of grace in another holiday season of grief?