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The Holidays Are Not Always “Merry and Bright:” Dealing with loss during the holidays season.

      The holidays can be a time of happiness, love, family, and traditions. However, this is not always the case. Some people have lost important people in their lives, whether it be family or friends. There are different reasons for this loss, whether it be sickness, suicide, accident, or tragedy. People struggle with their emotions regarding loss all year long, but the holidays can be especially hard. They see people full of smiles and excitement throughout the holiday season, and feel as though they should be happy too. Yet, they feel more sad than they did before the holidays arrived.

      Also, people cope with loss in different ways which can cause tension between existing family members or friends. Someone may want to talk about and participate in activities that remind them of their loved one while another person may want to try to forget those activities because the pain is too much for them.

      To help understand this better, I talked to my friend who lost their mom at the age of twelve. To begin, I asked them if it was hard to get along with their family after losing their mom. They responded with “No, but it was more lonely with just me and my dad.” From there, we moved into a conversation about the holidays and how the loss of their mom affected that. They said “It seemed like Christmas had lost its Christmas magic. For a long time, my dad didn’t want to do anything for the holidays, so we didn’t put up a tree or anything for Christmas.” They explained to me that the holidays are always pretty difficult to begin with, because their mom’s birthday is just a few days before Christmas. However, my friend stated “It did get easier over time, but the holidays are still a time that you can really feel things and miss the presence of your loved ones.”

      Although some people have never experienced this kind of loss, many people have. In order to protect their emotions, you have to be careful about what you say and do. Something my friend said they do not like is when people say “I’m sorry for your loss, because sorry doesn’t do anything or I know how you feel, because no, you don’t.”

      For those who have lost a loved one, it’s okay to feel your emotions, whether they are good or bad. The holidays do not have to be merry and bright. There are people around who will be willing to help you, ask them and let them. Do whatever makes you feel comfortable, whether that be not celebrating at all or by going full out with your decorations and activities. Keep traditions or let them go; no one will blame you for your choices. Most of all, find other people to be around and celebrate with. They may not understand, but they can offer love and encouragement to you during your difficult time. Be sure to take care of yourself in the best ways that you can, and do whatever makes you feel most at peace around the holidays and all year long.

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