All holidays and times of family gatherings are supposed to be rich with joy and laughter and fulfillment. You know, like the holiday photos sent by many at the end of each year. The very fortunate have moments, hours or days of these experiences during holidays. Yet, even the happiest of times are filled with challenges. And for some, a great deal of sadness and loneliness.
My client, who we'll call Miriam, is bravely facing her first Easter without her husband of 25 years. Her daughter, Sally, an only child, was married a month ago. While Sally was on her honeymoon, her father, in excellent health, had a major coronary attack and died immediately. In Miriam's words: "This will be my daughter's first Easter without her father, and her first with her husband. We are all just heartsick that the joy and the loss are so entwined." Sally and her husband plan to spend Easter Sunday and Monday with Miriam, and in this way, pain for all can be eased. Handling The Holidays When Your Life Is In Limbo
Martha, whose marriage has been rich and fulfilling, is the mother of four teenage children. Two months ago she was diagnosed with a virulent form of liver cancer. The probability is high that this will be her last Passover with her family. Mel, her devoted husband, can think of nothing else. Tears overcome his words continually. He is determined that he will be able to conduct their family Seder this year, bringing comfort and support to Martha and their four sons.
For many with homes of their own, the coming together with parents and adult sisters and brothers—where there is a great deal of unfinished emotional business—is quite a test. Many believe they were the less favored of siblings. Others do not trust their siblings, describing them as "spoiled rotten." And there are also many who have difficult grievances against their parents that they have never found a way to address. A client describes such gatherings around the table as, "A Feast of Indigestion." 3 Powerful Marriage Lessons From Easter
Holiday time is also a time of exhaustion where couples, usually with two jobs, do all they can to make things wonderful...often becoming so tired that what they do is make themselves ill. So what can we do about all of this?
1. Rest up. Do all you can to be rested before the holidays. Do not exhaust yourself with details that sap all of your strength. For those hosting, give assignments for food, cleanup and activities. Do not forget that some food can also be ordered.
2. Invite others. If you know of someone who's alone, include him or her. If you know of a family facing a great loss, ask that they join you. In this, you will not only be living the message of love and respect echoed in all holidays, but demonstrating how this is done for your children. Study Says Living Alone Can Cause Depression
3. Have sex. If you are lucky enough to have a partner, before the holidays begin, make sure you create time to make love. The difference this makes is enormous. Lovemaking calms, strengthens and makes everything in the world seem more hopeful and manageable. Home For The Holidays: Hooking Up At Mom & Dad's
4. Talk about it. If it is possible to begin a mature dialogue with a loved one about things between you that have become difficult or have never been right, try to begin this conversation. How Do I Get My Husband To Tell Me What's Wrong?
5. Keep your chin up. If you know that such discussions will be fruitless and only create misery, pitch to the positive as much as you can during family time. There are wonderful books and movies that you an discuss to take the edge off. There is also food that can be complimented (I hope.) You get the gist. If you are going to be there, do all you can to create calm and fun.
6. Share your feelings. If you are feeling sad and anxious about loss or illness, know that this is your mark of being real. Share how you feel with one or two you trust who either will be with you, or who you can speak to during the holiday. Picture that person holding your hand. Remember that you are a very special individual and those who can be there for you are given the gift of your trust.
7. Follow up. Let us at YourTango Experts know how your holidays went. We care!
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