When we think of the holidays, we often think of the cozy family snuggled up by the fireplace. So what happens to those who don’t have the Norman Rockwell painting of a family? The reality is, for many the holidays are a source of stress ranging financial stressors to highly charged emotions. Whether you are experiencing a holiday without a parent due to death, illness (physical or mental) or even seeing extended family member you’ve been anxiously awaiting all year.
So many of us fall into the mental trap of the holiday dinners or experiences that MUST be perfect. Seeing family SHOULD be easy, being back at our parent’s house SHOULD feel inviting, or having the kids decorate the house SHOULD be a fun filled family excursion. So when arguments about politics arise, when you end up feeling uncomfortable away from your home or when the kids end up breaking/eating most of the ornaments, we often find ourselves angry and frustrated that, yet again, we failed to live up to the picture perfect family standard.
Or perhaps this a holiday with a family member who is no longer present physically or mentally. While it can be wonderful seeing others around family members, it can also serve as a painful reminder of what we no longer have, or maybe what we wish we had all along. Many of these gatherings or this time of year is shown in movies, greeting cards, etc, has the potential to make us feel extra venerable and a bit of an outsider- as the holiday times are not often associated with deep feelings of grief and longing. This can be an emotionally straining time for those who are experiencing loss; this is the time of year so centered around family that someone’s lack of presence is amplified and becomes painfully aware to the individual experiencing the loss.
This season, as with every significant event, it is of value to remember that your feelings if they are good happy feelings, conflicted feelings of feelings of anger and grief, these are your feelings and nothing to be guilty for. Just because we are surrounded by sparkling lights and an atmosphere that tells us we need to project warm happiness, it does not mean we have to live in a false reality where we are pretending. Try to take each holiday event as it comes while allowing your loved ones around you to offer their support.
Alexis has been a part time contributor to the online website Patientworthy which is dedicated to education and awareness of rare and serious diseases. Links to articles written by Alexis: