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“Have a holly jolly Christmas.” “It’s the most wonderful time of the year.” “Have a cup of cheer.” As we enter the thick of Christmas season our movies, songs, advertising and expectations tell us we should be feeling happy, joyful and content all month long. But this is not realistic. Depression, sadness, grief or anxiety don’t just disappear in December as twinkly lights go up. In fact, these tough feelings can even seem heightened during the holiday season where losses feel amplified (making noticeable the person who is missing from around the table) and with the added pressure that we “should” be feeling festive and we’re falling short. 

Grief can come in many forms – over relationships, unmet expectations, loss, hardship and comparison. You are not broken. You are not wrong. You are human. If you’re a member of our newsletter community, you already know this month we’ve chosen to focus on grief – offering a thought piece and guided meditation on the emotion. If you’re not a part of our newsletter community, feel free to check it out and join here. There’s space for you here. We want to remind you that grief anytime during the year is allowed – and actually invited – but it’s presence can be especially felt during the holidays. And that’s normal. 

Usually, what can be the most uncomfortable part of grief is the secondary emotion of punishing yourself for feeling it at all. Try as best you can to allow it, and remember the only way through it is through it. The following John O’Donohue verses are my personal reminder during the cold, dark seasons of life (whenever they arise) that they are just that – seasons, not a forever state but a moment in time that deserves to be felt. 

He writes:

This is the time to be slow 

Lie low to the wall 

Until the bitter weather passes 

Try, as best you can, not to let 

The wire brush of doubt 

Scrape from your heart 

All sense of yourself 

And your hesitant light. 

If you remain generous, 

Time will come good; 

And you will find your feet 

Again on fresh pastures of promise, 

Where the air will be kind 

And blushed with beginning. 

My friends, your hesitant light is still flickering, just like the Christmas lights on a porch in the middle of a dark, cold night. And on the other end, the sun will rise. 

By: Maddy Weingast, Assistant for Therapy for Eating Disorders and Body Image