Holiday Time and Past Losses

It can be so confusing!  Here is the time of year that is full of celebration with parties, presents, good wishes for all …and…yet…it can bring up such sadness or anger at the very same time.  It can be perplexing to have these feelings linger over the course of the holiday season.

You are not alone if you are having these feelings. 

Old losses have a way of creeping up on us even (or especially) at happy times.  Sometimes it is difficult to connect the present feelings with these past events because it seems so long ago that we experienced the loss, for example, the death of a loved one in childhood.  Also, it can be particularly sad when it is the first few holiday seasons since the death of a parent, child, dear friend.  Numbers can be surprisingly powerful, as in “It’s been 5 years since my mother died.”   Or it has been 10, 15, 20 years.

Perhaps, you have not fully grieved the loss, made peace with the death of an important person.  Maybe you had ambivalent feelings toward them.  Maybe you felt responsible or guilty or are holding on to something you have kept secret around their death.  Unexamined upsetting events can come back to haunt us at the most unlikely times.

There are some traumatic events that can mark us for life and rule us in an unhealthy way unless we deal with the event.  We may always feel sad about it, but we will understand our feelings and be able to choose how to express our sad feelings.  We might be able to tell people that we feel sad instead of acting angry by lashing out at others or acting hurt and withdrawing from others.  It is worth talking to someone about it.