Monday, December 26, 2011

The Post-Holiday Blues: Why do I feel SO Sad?

     For many, the holidays - and the flurry of activities that go with them - are over.  While the holidays can be a very tough time for those who are grieving and in mourning, for others the activity surrounding them provides a welcome distraction.  Some feel relief when this period is over, while others feel sadness and loneliness even more acutely.  If you live in the North, as we do, the holidays come at the beginning of winter and when the merriment is over we look ahead at a long, cold, dark period before us.

     Winter is a period when nature sleeps.  Animals and plants alike slow down, hibernate, and rest.  Yet in the quiet and silence, there is an imperceptible incubation and nurturing of what will eventually spring forth.

     The festivities, lights, stresses, obligations and activities of the holidays distract us for a short time from what is naturally a pensive and quiet time.

     It is no surprise, then that this can be a time when we experience our sorrow deeply.  When our heart aches to escape the solitude and quiet.  Where we wish we could avoid our thoughts and memories.  And where our heart and soul literally ache with longing.

     It is tempting to try to busy ourselves with something - anything - to avoid this heartache.  Our friends and family may do all in their power to distract us, get us "out", working hard with all the best intentions to help us avoid depression.

NOTE:  Clinical depression is a real and serious matter.  Click here for a free, anonymous test to see if you have symptoms that indicate clinical depression.  If you do, please seek professional assistance right away.

     Although normal grief and mourning may have some of the same traits as clinical depression, most who are mourning do not fall into clinical depression.  It is OK to feel sad.  It is OK to want to sleep more.  It is OK to cry.

     All of these things are normal and can, in fact, be therapeutic.  Make sure you are talking to someone supportive - whether a family member, friend or professional - throughout this time and don't be afraid to express how you are really feeling and really doing.  Be honest.

     And here's where our advice may differ from what you have heard before - 
this winter, this post holiday season, take some time to wallow in your feelings.

     That's right - we said wallow.  Go ahead, call in sick to work.  Cancel your plans.  Stay in bed one day.  Watch a terribly sad movie.  Cry your heart out.  Write poetry (good or bad, it doesn't matter), paint, beat on a drum, make music, scream, sleep, sit in silence, eat that half-pint of Ben & Jerry's you ordinarily would avoid.

      Feel your feelings.  Absorb yourself in them.  Do what feels good instead of what you should.  But don't obscure or hide your feelings and pain behind activity, distraction, alcohol, drugs, medication, violence or other destructive behavior.  This is your pain, felt so deeply because you loved so much.  Own it, face it, accept it, work with it.

I promise that somewhere in you, on your Wallow Day, a kernel of your future - a future that is bright and filled with love you cannot yet imagine - will begin to incubate and grow.  Have faith that even in the darkest, longest, coldest days, this kernel is growing and developing, and that in the inevitable spring, as hard as it may be to believe and to foresee today, that kernel will sprout into something truly spectacular.

1 comment:

  1. Thank you Heather for this thoughtful post. Reiki is also a good tool in moving through grief. Many blessings to you and yours.