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Most mornings, my routine looks roughly the same. I get my son up and ready for school and settle into my work once he’s gone. Typically, I start my morning off by reading the news to see if anything major has happened overnight. From there, I head to social media and do a quick 5-minute check to see if anything exciting has happened in the lives of people I know personally. Finally, I read my favorite webcomics and get started with writing and editing. This morning, the first story I saw on my Facebook feed was a memorial post for a young woman who went to my high school. She was only 35, and now she’s dead.
I called and spoke to one of my good friends, who had choir with the young woman in question. We both spent a few minutes remembering her life and her struggles before my friend briefly mentioned how she would be keeping our friend’s family in her thoughts, because loss is often very hard to deal with around the holidays. What she said is very accurate and quite apt. In our culture, the holidays carry with them an expectation of joyous celebration, with little regard for personal experiences and memories.
With Thanksgiving next week and Christmas a little more than a month away, it is a good time to remind ourselves that the holidays are often very difficult times of the year for people. For those who have recently lost a loved one, the holiday will be a constant reminder of the person who they love that is no longer with them. Even those who have had time to process their grief may still feel an ache in their hearts on special days, such as birthdays, anniversaries, and holidays.
It isn’t just the death of loved ones that impacts our experience of the holidays. With family get-togethers and inevitable part of holiday celebrations, there’s also the stress of interacting with your extended family. For some people, that can mean an expectation to smile and welcome an abuser back into their home. For others, it means denying their expression of their true selves, whether it’s gender identity or sexuality.
You should absolutely find joy where you can during your holiday celebration. The holidays can be a time when we give selflessly of ourselves to others and remember all the beautiful things that we have to be thankful for in our lives. However, it is always helpful to stay aware of the fact that the holidays can be a very difficult time for some people.
While you celebrate, hold space for those who struggle during the holidays. Whether they have recently lost someone they loved, experienced a trauma on the holidays in the past, or simply struggle to deal with their family, the holidays can be very difficult for some people. Instead of judging someone who does not outwardly display the joy and gratitude customary during the holiday season comma try to keep in mind how difficult the holidays compete for some people. After all, part of belonging to a family or community is loving and supporting the people in our lives, regardless of where they are in their life journey.
For previous Ladybud articles about holidays, click here.