The holidays are supposed to be the happiest time of the year. But what if they’re not?
An experience that I had a few years ago has forever changed what I think about during the holidays. I had a miscarriage in the beginning of December. It was an early miscarriage so I hadn’t told many people about my pregnancy yet. It was a heart-wrenching experience that left a dark cloud over the upcoming festivities. None of the parties I planned to attend, cookies I planned to bake, presents I planned to buy and wrap, and songs I wanted to sing seemed to matter anymore. I was grieving.
Of course I still had a toddler to take care of, so the bare minimum participation in holiday events still took place. I wanted him to have happy memories. But I was not happy. At all. And what made it more difficult was seeing how happy other people were during this special time of year. They seemed as if they didn’t have a care in the world. They were able to focus on all the fun things and experience pure joy. I wanted that.
I had never felt so alone. I felt as though I could not talk about my problems, especially when everyone else just seemed so happy and wrapped up in their busy holiday schedules. I was also afraid of what people would say. I tried to make myself enjoy the little moments that I could, but at certain times I couldn’t help but think to myself, “Who cares? My baby is dead.”
When all you want for the holidays is something very dear to you that you can’t have, it’s a source of constant pain.
If you are feeling this way right now at the beginning of the holiday season, I want you to know that I understand you. And you are not alone.
There are varying experiences of loss and longing that can drag a dark cloud along with you. Whether it is the loss of a loved one, being separated from your spouse/child/family due to circumstances out of your control, being newly divorced, a recent job loss, a serious illness, or some other difficulty that has impacted your life, they are all accompanied with intense emotions that take time to work through. We are human. We might not feel happy all the time. Even if logic tells us, “things could be worse,” that does not invalidate what you are going through.
You are in pain. And I see you.
If you are feeling happy right now, you don’t have to feel guilty. It is an incredible feeling to be joyful during this time of year. But now is a good time to reflect on the people in your life and how you can reach out to someone who might be struggling. Find a need, and fulfill it. Be there with someone who is hurting. Hug them. Let them know that you see them; that you think of them, that you pray for them, or whatever action you choose to show that you care for them. Share your joy with someone who is having a hard time feeling it.
Through your actions, you can ease their burdens, even if ever so slightly. From personal experience, I know the incredible relief and love that I felt from the few people who knew what I was going through and reached out to me. It brought a small measure of peace in the midst of my personal storm. The gratitude that I felt for those thoughtful actions made my heart soar. I felt understood in a way that I so desperately needed.
I got through the holidays, and so will you. But for now, for today, know that I see you.