It’s all around us in the music, in the greetings, and the general atmosphere of, “it’s the most wonderful time of the year.” But is it? Really?
For those experiencing the holidays without their spouse it’s more like walking through a minefield, which the dictionary defines as, “an area planted with explosive mines, or a subject or situation presenting unseen hazards.” If that isn’t Christmas for a widowed person, I don’t know what is!
For me the biggest landmine each year is taking out the dreaded box of Christmas ornaments! It’s a box full of memories of the passages in our lives, and each one of those little ornaments has the potential to be a bomb.. For you it may be putting up the lights, the Christmas party you now attend alone, or the picture that looks empty. Those landmines are everywhere!
I have two pieces of advice for surviving the mindfields of Christmas.
The first piece of advice for surviving these sneak attacks from the landmines? Breathe. Get still and quiet if you can. Take a moment to face the feelings and acknowledge them, which might be two or three deep breaths. Then, take another two or three giant breaths and visualize the feeling leaving your body. I like to visualize it as a vapor that I can blow out into the universe.
It’s better to take the 90 seconds and feel the pain than continue to run from it. When we try to outrun it, it grows and becomes the bigger monster. But if we feel it, it becomes smaller.Teresa Beshwate, The Sudden Widow Coach
My second piece of advice is to observe. When you become a curious observer, you can see where the minefields are hiding. And when you see them, you can detonate them without getting hurt.
For example: the ornaments! This year, the ornaments are staying in the garage and the Christmas tree is getting “staged” or decorated with completely new and neutral decorations.
Soaring Spirits International shared a wonderful suggestion: carry a small momento with you! It could be a watch, a bow tie, a pocket knife, or a handkerchief, but keeping something small with you during the holiday will give you a sense of connectedness.
For you it may be moving Christmas dinner to Christmas brunch, or creating a new menu. It may be taking one tradition and allowing it to rest in peace while creating a new one that’s right for your new version of your family.
Holiday blessings dear ones, and watch out for those minefields!
P.S. If you are struggling with the holidays, I’m here for you. I run a program called Navigating Widowhood that can help you navigate your life after loss. We focus on mending our minds, healing our hearts and organizing your space so that you can move on with your life.