Perhaps more than any other time of the year, the holidays remind us of what’s changed in our lives. Sometimes these changes are cause for celebration—the birth of a child, a big promotion, a new engagement.
But sometimes they’re cause for grief. You recently moved, a loved one is going through death or divorce, or your family is smaller or configured differently. You may feel empty space in the room even when it’s filled with people.
Even if you’re not physically alone, it’s easy to feel isolated during the holidays. The revelry surrounding you symbolizes the great divide between you and everyone else as you silently struggle.
You may put up a cheery front for your kids, your family, or your friends, and stuff your grief under a holiday sweater, vowing to attend to it later. You may think: Let me just get through the holidays!
But this approach does more harm than good.
The Problem With Pretending Everything Is Fine
It takes energy to put on a positive face—energy that you could be using to process difficult emotions that accompany significant change. Grief that isn’t acknowledged festers and interferes in your other relationships and thwarts your ability to move forward. Paying attention to your grief during a season defined by giving is not selfish. It is the healthiest gift you can give yourself. To be truly present in your relationships, you first need to be whole.
It’s OK Not to Be Happy
This will be my first holiday season divorced. My dad has recently been diagnosed with lung cancer, and a dear friend of mine is battling for her life and undergoing grueling chemotherapy. There seems little to celebrate.
So my goal isn’t to be happy. It is to be peaceful, to reach a place of acceptance of what is and what cannot be changed.
My husband is gone. My dad will die. My friend might make it.
I don’t like these things that I need to accept. I grieve my marriage. I don’t want to say goodbye to my dad. I hate the uncertainty of not knowing if my friend will survive. But we can’t choose what is presented to us.
So how can we get to a place of grace while in grief?
How to Move From Resistance to Acceptance
The 30-day holiday challenge helps us move from overwhelm to peace. It’s about giving yourself permission, in the midst of the holiday rush, to create the space you need each day to be aware of and open to whatever is present in your life.
This is not about gritting your teeth and getting through the holidays. You’re being intentional about moving through the holiday season with purpose and resolve.
Creating this space allows you to process your grief, practice self-compassion, celebrate the people in your life, honor the empty chair(s) at the table, and acknowledge yourself for slogging through some tough stuff. Rather than resisting the grief, you will accept it.
You Need Others
The 30-day holiday challenge is also about community. You are not alone. Many people struggle alongside you and find the holidays particularly difficult to navigate. In actively engaging over the next 30 days, you’ll also help others. In the comments section of each post, share your successes and challenges.
What to Expect Each Day of the Challenge
Each post will offer a combination of humor and a spirit of resiliency to support you. You’ll be given thought questions to keep you engaged and rooted in a learning mindset.
In being open-minded, what new possibilities might emerge? What perspectives may shift? What new seedlings of hope will present themselves?
What the 30-Day Challenge Requires of You (and Me!)
I commit to setting aside the question why, my judgment of recent events, and a very young part of me that revolts against reality and craves a fairy tale ending.
You, too, must try to set aside the question of why, and anything else that might steal your space to consider this challenge and see what emerges.
Join me over the next 30 days on a quest to find hope, healing, and peace. We’ll tackle tough questions, challenge ourselves, occasionally fall down, but ultimately arrive at a place of grace.
Are you ready?