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When Christmas Brings Sad Memories

Christmas is a wonderful season but can also be a difficult season to cope with. For some people, it brings back sad and painful memories.

Don't Miss The Merry 

Two weeks ago, a family friend lost her dear son who was almost two years old. Just when there was so much hype and expectations building up for the amazing church's Christmas party, the baby boy died. I started to wonder how she would feel knowing her son wouldn't be there. 

To my greatest surprise, this woman was at the party. There she was joyful, cheerful and merrying

She appeared more present and lively than most people. Whether she was pretending to be happy or too happy to be pretending made no difference to me. She has left a lasting impression on me. I was inspired by her demeanor. I was inspired by how she didn't let life dictate her feelings.

This is why I'm writing. I'm writing this article to help someone out there. Someone who is mourning at this very moment. Someone who is seeing no merry in the Christmas.

It is true that our thought process, our mind set, attitude, aspirations, and expectations are all shaped by our experiences. But we can decide to choose how we respond. Yes, we can. 

I actually know of a lady who lost her dad on Christmas day in 2010. Every December 25 brings back memories of her admirable and loving dad. She misses him. It is a mix up of crazy feelings for her. She does not celebrate Christmas anymore. She chose not to. 

The merry in Christmas has become invisible. 

Your case might be different. Maybe you had an accident. Or maybe you are broke and wondering what the fuss is about. Or maybe you are single and seriously wishing you had somebody to call your own. Or just maybe . . . you are not happy. Please, don't miss the merry. 

You could be dealing with the disappointment of another year going by, another Christmas lingering feeling of emptiness, loneliness and depression. When those depressing thoughts come, here are some ideas I hope would help:

  • Pray
  • Worship
  • Write a letter to God (or Santa Claus)
  • Write out what you feel: Make a poem, a story or a song out of your feelings. Capture every thoughts and leave nothing behind. Write unapologetically and sincerely. Let it all out. Writing is therapeutic. As you write, you let go of the feelings.
  • Go shopping: Yes, please! Go shopping! I don't mean the sitting-at-home-and-clicking-on-an-image type of shopping. Step out of your phone. Get dressed in your most comfortable outfit and go out there to get anything you so desire. You deserve it!
  • Allow yourself to experience some longing: We are human and Christmas naturally promotes a heightened emotional state. Acknowledge this, honour it, and understand that you may feel a little low. When you embrace it, it helps release it. A distraction like a good movie (a comedy!) or an engrossing book helps take our minds off being lonely or among family tension.
  • Celebrate on a different date: We can’t all afford to be where we want to be at Christmas. So if you want a get-together with loved ones, commit to come together on another date. Why not celebrate on January 25 for example? My friends and I will be celebrating ours on December 27. (will gist you later). 
  • Invite another lonely person over: You can offer to cook, or share the load and do it together with somebody else. 
  • Be the light for someone else: Do something nice for someone you know (or even someone you don’t).  You can give someone a call that you know is lonely. Making it less about you always works in more ways than one. I've learnt giving to another person is the quickest and most lasting shortcut to happiness. It works.
  • Don’t compare: People have different circumstances - some are sick, some are feuding with others, some people don’t have enough (or any) food. Let this give you some perspective and don’t judge your circumstances by what you see on TV or your seemingly perfect neighbour’s family. Just let it be whatever it is for you this year. You also don’t need to justify your day to anyone. “My Christmas was nice and quiet” is not a bad answer. 
  • Don’t over think it: There is no right or wrong way to spend Christmas. After all, its just 24 hours. Don't come and go and kill yourself. Stop brooding. Stop worrying. 
  • Laugh and Have fun: This can be hard. But laughter is the best medicine for a grieving heart. What/who makes you laugh? Stand-up comedians, movies, and stuff like that can lighten you up. 
Bear in mind that Christmas is not the chicken, the rice, the guests, the tree. Christmas is internal. It is a matter of the heart. We can carry it anywhere we go and it can be celebrated every day of the year. It is the spirit that counts - the love and the gratitude that we feel towards the people in our life - no matter where they are.

Sweetie, whatever happened last Christmas (or few months ago), let it go. Enjoy this one.

You can work through the disappointments. You can process your feelings. You can choose how to respond. You can move on. 

When the past memories and frustrations come again, let the feelings slip away. Meditate on them as they come, but don’t dwell on them.

Never take the merry out of Christmas. 

"Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted" ~ Matt. 5:4

Stay inspired.
Merry Christmas in advance! 

Let's discuss: How do you overcome depression? How can you help a grieving friend? 

Written by Nwamaka Ajaegbu 
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Heart Rays . . .giving out  the light.
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