Navigating the Holiday Blues

by Armen Bacon

Alex_and_me_at_ChristmasSurviving the holidays when your heart is in ‘Griefland’ (and you’d rather be home alone in your sweats) can be daunting at best. Saying yes to party invitations, cooking, shopping, managing the multitude of ‘to do’s’ generally associated with this time of year, only add to the nagging hurt we feel with the absence of our loved ones.
As someone who has navigated holiday blues for nine years, let me just say that any way you get through this season is heroic. While there are moments when you might want to be surrounded by friends and festivities, there are other moments of profound sadness, when all you want to do is lock the doors, curl up in a ball, and wake up in January. Give yourself permission to do both.

  • Try equal parts quiet and solitude time intermixed with the command performances; grab your calendar now and put a gigantic “X” on a handful of days that will be unstructured, unplanned – days for your to be still and cocooned as necessary. Breathing days are gifts to you!
  • Remember that “NO” is a complete sentence. Parties, potlucks and gift exchanges will go on without you, trust me.
  • Find your people – friends who will embrace your pain, allow you wiggle room to be silent and melancholy without trying to ‘snap you out of it.’ In other words, find the friends who love you ‘unwrapped.’
  • Simplify. Rather than get caught up in the gift-giving frenzy, donate to a favorite charity that feeds your soul and somehow represents the spirit of your child.
  • Create a new ritual honoring your lost loved one. Bake their favorite cookies, buy a beautiful fragrant candle whose scent fills your heart, plant a noble fir or special rosebush that will bloom and grow, offering beauty and hope for the future.

Armen’s son, Alex, died on July 17, 2004 at the age of 22 as the result of a drug overdose.