As John Lennon sang in his popular song, so this is Xmas… and across the land, children or adults alike are getting excited, people are rushing around trying to get the perfect gifts, the perfect food and organise everything for the big day. There are parties going on and an overall feeling of joy and merriness.
Whilst I do not wish in any way to bring doom and gloom to everyone’s jolliness or to be the party pooper, I feel it is important to remember that some may not be feeling overly festive. Yes, it is a time of celebration but there may be occasions in life when the last thing we want to do is to celebrate Xmas and instead want to wish it away.
There can be a number of reasons for this. For some, it will remind them of a close one passing away at this time of year and the increased sense of grief as the anniversary passes as well as the empty chair around the Xmas table may be very painful. For others, it may be illness, a relationship breakdown, depression, or quite simply dealing with grief and trying to process life’s events.
As human beings, when we are happy, we do not like to see someone sad or not joining in so we will naturally try to fix the situation or somehow make it better. Sometimes, we may even find it too difficult to acknowledge someone’s pain and pretend that we don’t know there is something wrong because we find it difficult to find the right words. Both of these behaviours are actually quite selfish but on an unconscious level. We mean well but the only people who will benefit from it are really us, as it gives us the feeling that we’ve done our bit.
If you truly want to help someone suffering from the Xmas Blues, my view is that it is better to speak to them than remain silent but it has to be done in the right way.
If the person wishes to spend time on their own, don’t force them out and just let them be. As long as you let them know that you are here for them if they so wish and check up on them by saying hello every now and again, they’ll be ok. It is sometimes a lot better to spend a bit of time away, as the energy required to force oneself to join in is rather draining and would be better spent in healing whatever hurt is being experiencing.
Our instinct is also probably to tell them to ‘think positive’ and whilst wallowing in problems and negativity couldn’t be further away from what I would advocate, I also believe that making yourself to be happy when you are screaming inside is just as damaging. Sometimes, we have to go to that dark place, face up to what hurts and feel the pain, as well as taking some time out. It is actually the only way to move forward without carrying too much baggage, as it means you are dealing with it. It’s just bad timing when it happens during the holidays.
Please, please, please do not start mentioning someone you know ‘who went through exactly the same thing’… By all means, share someone else’s experience but do not assume you know the whole story or how someone is truly feeling. We are all different and will deal with different things in different ways so please let the person struggling be the judge of what is right for them. Advice is probably not required at this point either but if they want to talk, listening will help.
A number of people will also probably feel incredibly lonely despite being surrounded by family and friends (or in some case, actually being alone). So just remember that whilst Xmas is meant to be a happy time of year, it might be a difficult one for some. One of the only things that will make it ok is for them to feel love rather than being expected to conform or pretend.