It's Okay to Have a Blue Christmas
I'll be honest, I'm not in the proverbial "Christmas Spirit". Things have been rough lately. I got challenged to a fistfight (When Violence Accompanies Mental Illness), my 2-year-old niece had surgery, my neighbor died and I lost one of my jobs. That's a lot to get hit with during an ordinary time of year, but around Christmas... Well, it taught me that Christmas is not always a joyous time of year for everyone. And that's okay.
Coping with Holiday Grief
When I was a child, my grandfather lost his battle with cancer on Christmas Eve. In high school, a classmate of mine died in a gun accident about a week and a half before Christmas. Just because it's a festive time of year does not mean there will be no tragedy. So it brings up a question: how does one cope with holiday loss?
I find it helpful to remember the good times. For example, my neighbor was Santa Claus. Literally. He played Santa Claus at a town event for several years, and one year came by our house in full Santa regalia. My youngest brother Tim was confused, asking "Why is Santa Claus driving Phil's car?" Another year, Tim sat on his lap, gave him a hug and said "Bye Phil." If you didn't smile at that, I feel sorry for you.
Religious belief can be a source of comfort as well. As a Mennonite, it's helpful to believe in an afterlife in which I'll get to see my loved ones again in Paradise. Others believe that their loved ones will be reincarnated as something great. Still others believe that the dead become ancestors who watch over us. Whatever works for you is good and should be used.
Coping with Holiday Loneliness
As I write this, my usual bout with loneliness is gone. Tim and his wife Brittany are here with me at my parents. My niece, Addie, and nephew, Landon, are listening to Christmas music and running around. My parents are cooking a bountiful spread of food. Soon my brother, Dan, his wife, Ivy, and their sons, Des and Elliot, will be here. It's hard to be lonely with so many people around.
But not everyone feels the same way. Some are grieving for their lost loved ones. Some do not have a good relationship with their families. Some are lonely. So how should we cope with loneliness?
Reach out, whether you're lonely or know someone who is lonely. Call that special person. Ask how they're doing and take time to listen to the answer. Make time for those close to you or those you know could use some extra support. Remember those who are no longer with you and honor those still with us. Memories can be comforting and ease the pain.
Coping with other Holiday Problems
Recently I lost one of my writing jobs. I became very depressed and suffered from thoughts of suicide. I'm not unusual in that way. Depression around the holidays is so common that there is an urban legend that the suicide rate goes up (it's not true, but still worth noting because a myth like that doesn't arise in a vacuum). So how do we cope with problems such as job loss?
The same way we cope with problems the rest of the year. Look for the positive. In my case, that's less stress in my life. Talk to other people, especially mental health professionals. Use positive coping skills which, in my case, include playing video games. Do something nice for someone else.
Christmas is no more exempt from pain than the rest of the year. Remember that and be willing to, as the Babe in the manger said, love thy neighbor.
Oberg, B. (2013, December 24). It's Okay to Have a Blue Christmas, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2022, August 17 from https://www.healthyplace.com/blogs/borderline/2013/12/its-okay-to-have-a-blue-christmas