Grief and The Holidays: The Sanctity of Sadness





There is no avoiding the fact that you will be a swirl of sadness, frustration, and anger over the holidays no matter how much you force your way through. The good news is that it won’t be constant, that you will also find yourself smiling, laughing, and enjoying small moments. Grief is all these things, and sometimes we need to forget sadness for a while. It can be so overwhelming.


So how do you navigate this overwhelm? Discussed in our first post in this series it begins with how well you have prepared yourself for what lies ahead. Making a habit of checking in with yourself is important. Your thoughts, feelings and moods are dynamic in every situation. You and those you love deserve the check in.



But what happens if the check in finds you in a funk?



Give yourself the regular opportunity to release and honour your emotions. It is completely normal to feel sad and overwhelm especially when we are celebrating family, friends, love, and community. It is normal to cry, to want to protect yourself and to want to feel some joy. It is also normal to be angry at our tears, feel guilty for snapping at people, and angry that we forgot to feel sad for just a moment.



With all of that in mind, it could really help if you are able to set up a Sanctuary for your sadness. A place where you can retreat to feel all the feelings you need to feel. And when I say retreat, I mean a space to retreat into. To retreat from the family, from the holiday saccharine and from the onslaught of performance pressure and overwhelm. Retreating into yourself gives you the opportunity to release what you are feeling in the ways you need to feel them.



Your Sanctuary, Retreat, Cocoon, whatever you want to call it, is an actual space in your home and I encourage you to visit regularly by setting it up to be exactly what you need to feel safe and supported. What comforts does this space need to have? What resources can you place inside this sanctuary to help you feel at home? Perhaps there is a small gift that you can include for yourself? This space is to honour your swirl and, for you to experience the fullness of your swirl, exactly how you need to experience it.


So often, we push through the holidays with the hopes of not feeling a damn thing. Chin down, we push people away, we push parties off, we grapple with decorations, we hold in our outbursts. We are spending so much of our energy trying to stop feeling, to being strong, that often, the holidays can feel like a cruel joke.


By dedicated space and time to give grief somewhere to go, we are allowing ourselves space to spread our wings a little. To shake out some of the overwhelm and injustice. This often makes attending parties or events a little easier. Easier because we have unburdened and because we know we have somewhere to do it again.


So – think about what you need in your sanctuary. Fresh Linen’s, your favourite pajamas, delicious treats and luxurious pajamas, a playlist. Or perhaps it’s a small project, a mini renovation, painting, a book you’ve been hoping to read, a list of trails you want to walk, a new run time you wanted to hit, etc.


Where I would plead, is that this space remains a sanctuary that is free from alcohol or drugs. It is an important distinction because you are not retreating from your feelings, you are not looking to be numb. You are stepping into the feelings so you can release them. So please, consider this space to be an alcohol and drug free zone.


The next in this series is our love hate relationship with loneliness. Because what is just as important as having a space to retreat into, is that we also need to find a place to practice our new way of being.


May you enjoy the creative and intimate process of designing your Sanctuary.

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