Not everyone looks forward to the holiday season. For some, Christmas is just a reminder of people or places that are no longer a part of their lives. It brings up sadness, not joy and they feel left out of the celebratory feelings that others are experiencing. When Doc and I did group today with our patients at work, those feelings of loss emerged one by one as we listened to their stories.
Some of the patients have lost loved ones and others have had to cut out participating in family gatherings because it is no longer healthy for their recovery. That can bring up fears about being alone. Whether it is death or separation, it is all loss. The reality is, we can all relate to grief and loss. The trick is how to walk through the sadness while taking care of ourselves and understanding how those losses have impacted us. At the same time, it’s also important to establish new traditions that do bring the joy back into our lives in a new way.
As part of group today, we began talking about ways we can remember people or places that are no longer a part of out lives. Doc shared with the patient’s that every time a significant person or place was no longer in her life, she has made a Christmas ornament to hang on the tree every year to remind her of that loved-one or cherished memory. I know it comforts her because I watch how carefully she unwraps and hangs the ornaments on the best limbs of the Christmas tree where she can see them all the time.
The patients loved the idea and began thinking of ornaments they could make either by themselves or with their children to hang on their own trees. Then everyone came up with other ideas about how they could start new traditions to reflect their lives in recovery.
As we continued our discussion it became apparent that we all had much in common with each other and that by sharing our stories the isolation that comes from keeping everything inside began to dissolve. It reminded me that being there for each other, showing support and lending an ear is really the true meaning of Christmas.