I'm dreading the holidays. Written by Natalie Adams.
I’m dreading Christmas.
That’s strange to say, I know. My younger self would be shocked if she knew that I wrote this now.
Right after my dad’s death, this dread was because I didn’t know what to expect. I had never grieved before, and had no idea what the holidays would be like. Now, many holidays later, it’s because I have no clue what’s coming.
After those first few holidays, every “big” day has fallen into one of two categories: “Absolutely terrible” or “sorta okay.” “Absolutely terrible” holidays are like the first Christmas I had without Dad, where I spent the day alone, redecorating my bedroom while eating stuffing. The “sorta okay” days are like this Thanksgiving, where I was able to get through the normal rituals of the day, but had a sick feeling to my stomach the whole time.
Three days from now, on Christmas day, I don’t know if I’m going to wake up and want to run downstairs and open presents, or if I’ll want to roll over and lay in bed for another hour. I don’t know if I’ll be really excited to have Christmas dinner, or if I’ll want to stay in my room all day. I don’t know if I’ll be able to say that this was the first really good Christmas since my dad died, or if I’ll say that it was another bad one. The “not knowing” is horrible.
To deal with this anxiety, I’ve started telling myself this: No matter what happens, you will be okay.
It’s true. Christmas is only 24 hours long. One day. I have good coping methods, and will be surrounded by the people I love. No matter what happens on Christmas day, I will be able to wake up the next morning and feel better. Even if I don’t feel better the next day, I will soon after.
No matter how you’re feeling this holiday season, it’s valid. All of your feelings are valid. It’s okay if you’re not excited for the holidays, or if you’re really, really excited.
There is no “perfect” way to deal with holidays, but there are a few things that you can do to make sure that they are a bit easier. Keep a list of coping methods on your phone. Whenever you get upset, you can refer to the list. Tell loved ones ahead of time that you may struggle. This allows them to check in on you. Know that it’s okay if the holidays look different this year. Don’t hold yourself to expectations for the past - holidays are looking a bit different for everyone this year.
Finally, just remember that you are not alone. There are so many people who struggle with the holidays, including me.
Written by Natalie Adams, the creator of Teenage Grief Sucks.