Permission to Feel Sad This Holiday Season

By Kate Orson

Three years ago on Christmas morning I started crying.

My grandmother had died a month earlier and I was spending Christmas with my in-laws. Suddenly I felt bad, as if I had abandoned my own family. My husband got upset too, I could see that he was feeling unhappy that I was suddenly wanting to be somewhere else.

I could see that he thought I was ruining Christmas by getting upset.

In my blog post Got Christmas Gift Tantrums? Try This I explain how actually listening to our children’s feelings is the most effective way to prevent them from ‘ruining’ the festivities. Just staying with them and allowing them to get to the end of their cry means they get their upset completely out of their system, and can see the situation from a fresh perspective.

But we also need to do this for ourselves and other adults around us. We need to allow them to feel sad too. If someone’s missing this year, grieve for them. If dinner turns into a disaster have a moan and a rage. Listen to each other when things are tough. This means that upsets don’t have to colour the whole day. Often we can feel better within a few minutes.

This year my sister has leukemia, and I have spent the last few days recovering from donating stem cells so she could have a transplant. The idea for this blog post popped into my head, and I’m taking a sneaky half hour to write it while my daughter and her dad play in the park. Then I’ll be going off to the hospital.

My Christmas this year is far from the picture postcard type of Christmas. It’s very easy for me to just stay with whatever I’m feeling, to know that I don’t have to force happiness, and that I can feel sad. And when I do so, when I take five minutes to cry, I can then access a more genuine happiness.

Real festive magic comes from fully feeling the sadness and finding a deeper happiness beyond it.

If you find yourself feeling low don’t be afraid to admit it.

Write out a text to a friend or listening partner, or ask if they’ll listen to your for five minutes. Lets break the taboo that celebrations have to be happy every single minute.

When we open the door to our our sadness, we can move beyond it to joy.

Read Two Ways to Stop Your Downward Parenting Spiral for more help when parenting feels challenging.

Find out why crying can be useful for your child in How Does Crying Help You and Your Child?

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