Living with loss during the silly season

December 21  |  Christmas, Grief & Bereavement, Love & Relationships, Mindfulness, overcoming adversity  |   Cynthia


Whilst the madness of Christmas ensnares us with enforced joviality, let’s  pause and remember  that for many of us – due to loss – Christmas may never be the same again.

There are many variations on loss,   apart from the obvious physical death of a partner.  While it’s true that all of us, if we live long enough, are going to suffer some kind of personal loss, much as we rail against it, eventually we have to come to a place of acceptance, and then ultimately to move on emotionally. This doesn’t mean we ever forget the person we’ve lost, but that we learn to live with it. That knife-twisting pain in your gut eventually does fade.  Depending on the circumstances of this loss, the time it’ll take to travel and complete the grief journey, will vary from individual to individual and there’s no right or wrong way to plough through it. It’s tough and it wounds us to the core. It may also cause old scars to weep, because even with some emotional recovery time under your belt, there’ll always be a reminder, Christmas, a birthday or anniversary, or facing the New Year alone – which will apply fresh pressure to that inner scar – a bit like picking at a scab. The more severe the loss, the more those painful feelings may resurface.

The only person you must learn to please at this time of year – is yourself!

When will it stop hurting?  Nobody can answer that.  Whilst of course there are stages in healing, you simply won’t feel better for a very long time – whether other people like it or not. If you choose to stay in bed all Christmas day and duvet dive – that’s your business. You may also find yourself suffering from “Spare Woman Syndrome” – a perceived threat to your friends who are in a relationship. You don’t need to conform to anybody’s stereotypes or expectations.

Self-pity is ugly

 Self-pity is incredibly unappealing, and it’s futile. Unless you find the guts to discard it, it’ll swallow you up faster than any quick sand.  Many people undergo major traumas. What separates the wheat from the chaff – is attitude.  But there’s a stark difference here between self-pity, self-preservation and self-care.  The bottom line is that most people are way too worried about their own “stuff”, to want to absorb any of yours.  If you allow yourself to become totally identified by your loss, you’re going to be lonely for a very long time. Your loss IS significant, but it’s only a part of you – not the whole story of who you are as a person.

 Mindfulness and loss

Mindfulness is a way of anchoring ourselves, right now, this very second, into this day, this hour, this  minute. This practice teaches us to mind the gap, to provide that split second of choice – that near sacred pause, during which we can choose to react to stimuli or to respond in a more self-nurturing way. It’s cumulative and it leads to the ability to detach from troublesome situations, thereby maintaining our own precious reserves of energy, to be used in a more fruitful manner.

Easy does it

 Churchill said, “if you’re going through hell, keep going.” Take small steps. Remind yourself that you deserve happiness and that you have it within yourself to recover from and overcome any past loss. The saddest words in the English language are, “if only” – the saddest death of all – loss of hope. Don’t let that be your epitaph. And above all – remember – love never dies.


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Christmas comes but once a year – thankfully!

December 5  |  Blended families, Christmas, Dating, Living with baggage, Love & Relationships, relationships  |   Cynthia


The season of good cheer is almost upon us once more. How did that happen?  Judging by the way the shops carry on, all the ghastly festive paraphernalia starts rearing its ugly head by September. Christmas trees sprout up by October and by November – we’re in full hideous hysteria, counting the days we have left to lose those extra pounds to squeeze into that little black number (only to put them all back again – and more), racking our brains for gift ideas and engaging in full-scale war with our significant others, about how we’re going to survive spending time with the assorted hotch potch of his n’ her family and friends. Not to mention having to endure folks we can barely tolerate the other 364 days of the year.

Then – when Christmas day actually arrives, we end up eating way too much, bingeing on huge amounts of unhealthy food and booze – and then collapsing  semi-comatose thereafter in front of the box, just in time for the Queen’s speech. Is this really fun?

Why do we do it to ourselves?  Unless you’re religious – which I’m not – then it’s a really good question.  Tradition plays a part, but actually Christmas is a dreadful time of year for anybody who’s suffered personal loss, or is ill, alone or depressed.  Unspoken feelings between family members, which get stuffed down along with the turkey – ever ready to explode at the slightest provocation.  Disappointment when the gift you wanted  was a bottle of Chanel number 5 – and instead you’re presented with a Primark onesie, and your benevolent, fake smile hurts so much, your face feels like it’s about to crack.

And if you’re single – that can feel like a giant bucket of gritting salt – carelessly chucked into your gaping emotional, lonely wound. If you’re part of a blended family – with stepchildren and ex-partners thrown into the emotional melting pot, you’ve got the potential of a scenario which makes “War And Peace” seem like “Wind In The Willows“.

January looms – the most depressing month of the year. Excess pounds, depleted wallets, and low moods vie for your attention.

The Christmas message is drowned out by the ugly manifestation of rampant commercialism. Whether you believe or not – the message should be about hope and having faith in the future.  Instead, we go absolutely crazy, held hostage by the disease of more – where needs are few but wants are many. We try to patch up our inner, insatiable void with external fripperies – and it never works.

For children I can see the point – the excitement of Santa coming, the bright Christmas lights and putting out milk and carrots for Rudolf the red nose reindeer. But for we supposed grown-ups – let’s face it, Christmas has lost its sparkle.

I believe it’s time to stop, think and regroup. Life is short so why go along with all the fuss just to please others?  If Christmas is your bag – fine. But for those of us who for whatever personal reasons would rather skip from November, straight to January -there should be no guilt. We have to learn to please ourselves first and foremost – because we’re worth it.

Bah humbug!