Posted on December 13th, 2017

The holidays are a time of the year for family and parties and lights.  The country takes a collective pause and we reconnect with those we love and get to create new memories.  All around we hear songs of hope and joy, played at the grocery store and mall.  The air is crisp (at least crisper than it is in July) and everyone seems so much more energized and happy.
Maybe that's described you in past years, but not this one.  When you’ve lost a loved one the holidays can serve as a painful reminder.  Firsts without those people that made our lives richer are hard, and if we’re honest the seconds and thirds and fourths…can be hard too.  Those family traditions feel different because, well, they are different. Losing people we love is hard, even when we have the hope of the gospel.
Navigating the holidays can be tough after a loss.  Here are a few self care reminders to  consider that might be helpful over the next few weeks.
1. Give yourself room to grieve.  You love that person which is why grief is so normal. Pause to remember them as you hang their favorite ornament or watch their favorite Christmas movie. Tell stories about them.  Say their name.  Talk about the things that made them love Christmas and the things that you miss the most.  The goal isn’t to simply move on, it’s to carry who they were with you.  Our lives are shaped by people and experiences; by that person.  

2. People expect this time of the year to be hard for you.  It’s human nature to try to be strong for the people around us and that often makes us feel more alone that we could ever imagine. No one expects you to be a stoic superman, in fact, everyone expects to support you during this time.  Emotions are temporary, even though they don’t feel that way.  They have a way of starting off intensely but lessen with time.  Allow yourself to be sad when you feel sad.  It’s okay.  This will allow you to feel joy as well, and it’s okay to be happy too!  

3. Take a break when you need to. Grant yourself permission to step away when you are feeling overwhelmed.  You don’t have to participate in everything. There is no shame in taking a step away. 

4. Find a way to serve. It’s during the times we feel broken that we are often the least motivated to serve. Being a part of something bigger than us has a way of making us feel alive.  It connects us to each other and allows us to feed this innate need we all have to give back.  Focusing on others also gives a much needed break from what’s going on in our lives as we invest in others.  Healing is often found in that act of shifting our focus outward for a time. 

5. Surround yourself with people who love and support you.  Ecclesiastes 4 reminds us that God has placed people in our lives to support, encourage, and pick us up when we have trouble putting one foot in front of the other. You have people who love you.  Lean on them during this time and reach out to them when you need company. If you find yourself alone on Christmas, call the church office and we will make sure you have a great place to celebrate.  
If you need someone to lean on or talk with, the Southwest staff is always here for you. If we can serve you in any way, please let us know. Praying for God’s grace and peace for you!  

Paul Diaz 

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