The Holiday Season is upon us again, and for many, will likely be a season unlike any experienced before. COVID-19 has impacted 2020 in ways unthinkable a year ago, from changes to work, school, and social gatherings. While this is typically a joyous time of year, this year’s celebrations are colored by a sense of grief and loss as we aren’t gathering in the same ways. Whether you would typically be opening Christmas presents during a family gathering, spending eight nights around the Chanukiah, celebrating Kwanzaa with loved ones, or awaiting the New Year among friends and family, many of these events are significantly different or not happening at all this year.
Navigating Grief and Loss
Navigating a sense of loss during what is usually a time of merriment and fun can lead to further feelings of doubt, guilt, and shame. While not necessarily comforting on its own, it’s important to emphasize you are not alone in this grief.
Allow yourself time during this holiday season to acknowledge the losses experienced and the things you are missing. Allow time to grieve – it’s okay that these losses are difficult. Once acknowledged, felt, experienced, and expressed, don’t stay in this mental space. Move forward to see the opportunities this new experience can bring.
If you have children, moving through this process first yourself can help you prepare your child to do the same. To help your child deal with the loss of holiday traditions, discuss your normal traditions and what they represent to your family. Discuss when the traditions started, why they are important, and which parts they most enjoy and which will be the most missed this year. Kids will most likely enjoy being included in the conversation about how traditions can be celebrated differently this year. Allow them to be creative in this discussion.
Establishing New Traditions
What new traditions can you start this year? How can you modify your normal routine to accommodate the uniqueness of the year? What can make this a special holiday season for you and your family? Maybe it’s hosting a virtual gift opening, making your own ornaments, mailing letters to loved ones, or allowing yourself to take a year off from decorating and simply relax and reflect on the things your grateful for.
Including your kids in the conversation and new activities empowers them to take on this year’s changes with a more positive outlook, and is a great opportunity to create a meaningful holiday experience.
Whatever you do, don’t forget to stop and breathe. Take a moment to remember that we will get through this. When we’re there, we can all think back on the uniqueness of the year as we celebrate important, and maybe new, traditions into the future.
This blog article was contributed by Matthew Talmadge, a Licensed Professional Clinical Counselor at Nexus-Gerard Family Healing.
Nexus Family Healing is a national nonprofit mental health organization that restores hope for thousands of children and families who come to us for outpatient/community mental health services, foster care and adoption, and residential treatment. For over 45 years, our network of agencies has used innovative, personalized approaches to heal trauma, break cycles of harm, and reshape futures. We believe every child is worth it — and every family matters. Learn more at nexusfamilyhealing.org.