On the one hand I frickin LOVE Christmas!
Goodbye work and all adult responsibilities, hello Home Alone in shocking Christmas jumpers and a hall pass to eat 17 cookies before breakfast. Everyone knows calories don't count during the festive period.
However on the other hand, buried deep at the back of my mind is the cold hard reality that this is the first holiday celebration without my Dad and I'm quickly beginning to realise that whilst you can bury your feelings during the everyday grind of life, when it comes to the important stuff your mind has a way of digging out any deeply rooted pain you've swallowed and throwing it in your face.
And yet as much as I find this reality uncomfortably confronting, I find myself able to take seek comfort in the fact that so many of you share my discomfort and have continued to rise above tragedies of your very own.
So with that in mind here are 5 things you can do this Christmas period to help manage your grief and take care of your mental health. Because my Dad most certainly would have wanted me to and your loved ones will to...
Anywhere, anytime. There's no right or wrong to grieving and this festive holiday is no exception. Embrace wailing into your Christmas turkey or feeling the need to swear at the universe in private. Roll with feeling like a kid at Disney Land one minute and falling into a black hole the next because this, my friend, is life in all of it's ugly glory. Allow yourself to let it out and to heal.
Easier said than done I know. Family sized profiterole towers fast became my go to after Dad died and I had this neat party trick of finishing a whole one to myself. Some of us eat our feelings, others drink or do drugs or sleep their way through some very questionable choices but the bottom line always remains the same. Take care of you. Don't lose touch with reality as much as it bites. Try to eat some vegetables, get enough sleep and keep your pants on. Your future self will thank you I promise.
Losing someone makes it easy for our monkey mind to focus on the things we don't have as opposed to the things we do, causing our emotions to spiral out of control and leaving us to feel like a steaming pile of dog turd. But what if I was to tell you that it's not the event that controls our emotions but instead, our thoughts about the event? We can lose a loved one and choose to focus on the words unsaid and future events ripped away from our grasp OR we can choose to be grateful for what we had together and find a way to keep happy memories in our heart for a lifetime. Trust me when I say I understand this is difficult to master but blaming the universe is like bringing a knife to a gun fight. Choose gratitude where you can.
Don't be afraid to let them in and lighten the load. Human beings thrive on connection which is why the pain of losing someone obliterates you; we feel like we've lost that connection forever. No one can ever truly numb the pain of our loved ones leaving but we can draw strength from those willing to share it and over time, lesson the overbearing weight on our shoulders. Teamwork makes the dream work.
To all who can't be with us and yet somehow still are. Address that mother F of an elephant in the room and surrender to the fact that life is simply so much bigger than we are and out of our control. Trust that it has a (sometimes seemingly fucked up) way of showing us what we need in any given moment should we choose to listen and our loved ones aren't lost forever but simply watching from the sidelines. Gone but never forgotten, a time WILL come when you can whisper their name and not feel like you've swallowed glass. You've got this - cheers to us.