“Still waiting for the snow to fall
Doesn’t really feel like Christmas at all…
May all your troubles soon be gone
Those Christmas lights keep shining on.”
~ Coldplay 2010
Is anyone else having a difficult time getting into the Christmas spirit this year? As of December 22nd, we have not even had any significant snow in west suburban Illinois! That is part of the reason for me – the cold and grey. Blech.
In addition to the lack of snow, this year has felt burdened with loss. I find I have been reflecting upon the families throughout America who are still working through tragedy – from Hurricanes Irma, Maria, and Harvey, to wildfires in California. The Las Vegas shooting, Rancho Tehama School shooting, the Texas church shooting, Manhattan Truck attack, and the recent derailment of an Amtrak train. And I might even be missing some things.
That is a lot of loss.
Take a moment…
I often work with clients who have experienced loss that manifests itself in piles of stuff. Many families in America this year lost much of their stuff in natural disasters and many may still be displaced. This will impact holiday traditions, and force some to adopt temporary new ones.
According to Psychology Today, “many people feel very lonely at Christmas, because they have suffered the loss of loved ones.”
The hard work of grieving and finding a new normal takes time. According to Psychology Today, “many people feel very lonely at Christmas, because they have suffered the loss of loved ones.” The losses families across America are feeling this year may continue for years to come. The memories will re-shape to fit their internal narrative and it can become difficult to compete with those old memories in order to have new experiences.
I recently worked with a family whose basement and spare rooms were full of items from the past. The piles upon piles of stuff represented time gone by. Letting go of items for this client meant facing the loss of happy times when her children were young and learning to look forward to the uncertain future. She would describe situations and events while going through the items that did not represent the whole story – just what she had chosen to remember about it. She had real anxiety about losing those memories and replacing them with life as it is now. Warts and all.
That is where many families are this Christmas – rebuilding toward a new and perhaps uncertain future. Whether displaced by disaster or figuring out how to celebrate without loved ones killed in a tragedy the loss is ever present. And working through it will take time.
What can you do to keep the light shining on for a friend, neighbor, or co-worker in your life? While they may not show it, you may know they have experienced a recent loss – perhaps a parent, a pet, or even a home. They will appreciate a little extra loving care this season. Keep shining it on!
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