Several months ago, my family and I spent a few night’s with my brother in law in the house where my sister lived, with him, until the day she died.  It was… a lot.  In this blog post I’ll discuss my own story of dealing with grief and coping with the loss of my sister.

“He who has not looked on Sorrow will never see Joy.” ~ Kahlil Gibran

We all made it through, and even found a few moments of light in the midst of sorrow. In my head the entire time, like a mantra was the quote about grief that has to do with the depth of our sorrow being related to the depth of our love. I can’t find the exact quote or even who said it first, but it was the sentiment that not only got me through this “first” holiday, but also helped find some light in the darkness.

It got me thinking about how we all need tools to find the light in the darkness and ’tis the season, maybe this year more than ever, where we may need them most.

In the best of times, the holidays are tricky. On one hand, they are meant to be full of love and laughter and gathering with family from far and wide to celebrate and share joy.

In reality, they can also be times of great stress or unattainable expectations and even deep loneliness and grief. This year after a pandemic and at a time our world feels slightly out of control, no matter what or even if, you celebrate, it is impossible to avoid the season and the pressures and discomfort that can come along with it.

So what do we do? How do we keep our heads above water and our hearts safe from the many traps of holidays gone wrong?

Here’s what I came up with before spending the week caught between celebrating a life I am very thankful for, and grieving the loss of a life that included a sister I love so, so deeply: Tune In To The Love.

That sounds like lovely decorative house art, Cristie, but what the heck does it mean?

Ok, I hear you, enough with the cutesy quotes, let’s get down to details. How, does one “tune in to the love”? I’ll tell you, it’s simple, but maybe not so easy.

What is easy is being overwhelmed by expectations and stressors and blocking any feeling of the feelings that you might be afraid you can’t handle. Numb is easy.

What is simple but may be hard is choosing, every single morning when you wake up, to consciously be on the lookout for moments of joy and then be willing to take those moments fully into your body, no matter how small.

What’s easy is turning on autopilot and “getting through” the season by ticking off items on the to do list and trying not to be too miserable as you do.

What is simple but hard is purposely balancing your scales between obligation and choice, between monotony and fun.

What’s easy is doing what is expected or what you’ve always done.

What’s simple but hard is figuring out the boundaries that help you most give and receive love and then setting those boundaries and managing expectations around them.

What is simple, but not so easy, is taking some time to listen to yourself and figure out what you need to not just “get through” this season, but to actually experience it in a way that brings some joy.

We can’t erase all the sorrow, or uncertainty, but that doesn’t have to be the only thing we feel.

We can hold two truths at once: sorrow and joy, because they are both united by love. Let this season be your YES AND season. Feel the parts that are hard, AND make room to feel joy. Look for it and you’ll find enough be able to have both. You deserve joy. Allow yourself to have it.

I spent that thanksgiving mourning the loss of my sister AND recognizing the absolute joy that came from being surrounded by my other family members who loved her just as much as I.

Grief and Joy-United by love.

My wish is that you can tune into the love.

“A joyful heart is the normal result of a heart burning with love.” ~ Mother Teresa

~ Cristie XOXO

If you’re dealing with the loss of someone special and need support, I offer grief counseling services.  Please reach out to me for a free consultation.