Less, Life, and Loss

I entered this holiday season with mixed emotions.  As I heard the Christmas songs on the radio laud how “magical” this time of year is, I found myself feeling a bit cynical.  As the crooners sang about how this is the “most wonderful time of the year,” I couldn’t help but feel frustrated that I was experiencing loss and that I know of many of my clients are also experiencing this feeling.  Some of us are experiencing the loss of a loved one, others a divorce or perhaps the loss one’s quality of life due to a mental illness or substance abuse etc.  I am not so cynical that I could not experience great joy or even wonder this holiday season, but I wanted to write this post for those of you who are hurting at this time of year.  When we hear how “wonderful” this season will be, it can set an expectation in our minds that does not match our reality, thus creating more disappointment.  So this holiday season, I decided to allow the sorrow and joy to rush-in and recede as it saw fit.  I cried tears of sadness and of joy this Christmas.  I missed my mother-in-law who passed this year and I felt my heart swell while making gingerbread houses with my children and family.  I practiced allowing the complexity of gratitude and loss to exist simultaneously.  It was difficult and it was worth it for me.  It was definitely tiring.  While speaking with my father-in-law this holiday, he said, “We all only have a short-run in this life.  Even if you live to 110, it’s a short time when it is all said and done.”  He’s right.  His statement reminded me that being present to each day is an important practice.  For me, it is a practice that takes dedication and I know that I will practice it for a lifetime and I will never master it.  I am too human.  My wish for those of you that are hurting during this “time of great wonder,” is to find someone to mourn with…don’t isolate.  It can be tempting to allow your tears to find their way out alone, but it is important to BE with others.  I wish you a holiday season that is grounded, peaceful and real.