This time of year can be really hard for people, though.
I was reminded of this last week at church because of a bulletin insert.
This will be the tenth annual Holiday Hope hosted by our pastor. According to the invitation this event includes “practical ideas for coping with the holidays and special events during the first year of bereavement. Additional grief counselors will be be present, as well. You are not alone. A memorial plant will be given to all participants in memory of your loved one.” It is free and open to the public. I think this is such a loving thing to offer to those in our community. It is a practical way to show support for those who have recently experienced loss.
Death of a loved one
I have an aunt who’s first husband passed away from a brain tumor at a very young age. As I approached the second Christmas season after my mom passed away this aunt sent me a brief email asking how I was doing with the grief process. She said that she remembered that the second year was almost harder than the first year. She went on to explain that people who have lost a loved one EXPECT to be really sad the first Christmas, Thanksgiving, etc. When the second holiday rolls around these individuals may be slammed by grief all over again and be surprised by this.
Grim diagnosis or major change in health
This has been the case for a number of close friends in the last few years. There is stunned disbelief, sorrow, fear and any other number of emotions. They have the desire to celebrate every precious moment of life but initially feel so weighed down by all of it.
Loss of a job
I was pregnant and it was Thanksgiving week. I was a stay at home Mom. MOMD lost his job. Not only was this devastating financially but we were going to lose our health insurance in the process. How can you pay for COBRA when you have no income? I was not worried that we would starve because MOMD is an extremely hard worker but it was also very emotionally draining.
When a person or family moves to a new location, especially in a different state, there are so many adjustments to be made. There may not be resources for the family to go back “home” so they are in a situation that is unfamiliar and lonely.
Divorce, becoming empty nesters, broken engagements are all different life-changing circumstances that can be more difficult during the holidays.
Helping an elderly parent adjust to a new living environment
Whether transitioning to an assisted living facility or moving in with family members there is a loss of independence. It makes for a challenging time for all, especially if the parents lived in the same home for many decades.
Military personnel and their families
We have military people deployed around the world. That means many families will not be together for the holidays.
Guilt about not being excited about the holidays
And then, as if the sad circumstances aren’t enough, along comes guilt for not being excited about the holidays. You’ve heard it, maybe even said it yourself, perhaps. I SHOULD enjoy the holidays. This is suppose to be a happy time. BLAH. BLAH. BLAH. For those that are struggling with loss just putting one foot in front of the other is a major victory.
I wrote this list in order to remind myself (and possibly you) that the holidays aren’t happy for everyone. Maybe this is a year when none of those things apply to you or me personally. There is the chance, however, that we know at least one person that may have a hard time this year.
I want to be aware of those that may be hurting. I won’t be able to fix any of the circumstances but I can be a listening ear. I might even invite someone to Holiday Hope.
What practical ways do you help those who have a hard time during the holidays?
What has helped you in the past?
Thank you for reading, by the way!