The pain of Christmas
Christmas is past us, and there is nearly a year before we need to worry about it again. For, it seems most of us, Christmas should be joyful - a time to celebrate and be with people we love - only for some of us it is that very idea which can cause excruciating pain.
What if the person we love, our partner or spouse, our parent, brother or sister, or very best friend has died since the last Christmas we spent together? While everyone else is preparing and feeling excited, we are feeling dread.
Of course it is not only Christmas which triggers this sense of fear and grief. Birthdays, anniversaries, times of the year for special events - holidays and even routine trips taken together, can all produce painful memories which can be so difficult to share. There is a tendency in our culture here in the UK to feel that we should be 'coping'.
Courage and bravery are applauded, resistance to 'giving in' and 'getting on with life' are seen as the best way forward - and there is nothing wrong with that, except that for the person who is grappling with emotional pain, it can seem like an insurmountable climb out and into a life with a future. Sometimes, the people who might be grieving the loss themselves (other friends, family members) might be the ones with whom it seems obvious we share our feelings, but often this is not the case, and we feel we need to protect them from hearing our sadness. They have their own. Sometimes, there might have been very different emotional relationships amongst family members, meaning that the feelings which can confuse us can cause conflict if shared amongst others - so we suffer in silence. Sometimes we feel we are letting down the person who has died by being weak - 'they would not want me to be like this'.
Seeking help through counselling is not being weak. It is the natural way to go in finding an appropriate place to talk, to weep, to express fear and confusing anger or guilt - all that stuff we are holding inside, and in accepting that we need help is the first step towards a life which begins to make sense again.
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