Holidays are the most difficult time of the year for anyone in emotional pain, especially for hurting parents. Their hearts are full of pain and sadness over their child’s struggles and destructive choices. It may be from any number of things: Alcohol, drugs, porn, self-injury, mental illness, eating disorders, trouble with the law, same-sexual identity issues and more.
Sometimes you wish you could skip the holidays altogether. You certainly don’t feel thankful or festive. All you can think about is the last trauma or anticipate the next one. You wonder where God is and how you will survive this so-called happy season.
How weary and worn out you are from the journey. Grief, fear, anxiety, worry, anger and resentment have taken a toll. It feels like it will never end. Oh, no, another Thanksgiving and Christmas are right around the corner.
Ask yourself this question: “On a scale of 1 to 10 – 1 is no stress and 10 is super stressful – how hard, anxious or stressful will this holiday season be for you”?
Take a few minutes to think about it. Why did you pick the number you did?
God understands. He knows all about it.
Here are a few ideas you could try to lower your stress level this holiday season. I tried them and they helped.
5 Tips for Surviving the Holidays:
1) Adjust or lower your expectations – this will help you be content no matter what happens. Maybe your child will be pleasant, or maybe not; maybe they will call, or maybe not; maybe you will see them, or maybe not.
2) Consider doing things differently this year – if your family traditions will just make you feel more sad or be too difficult to do in light of your current situation, think about what changes you could make.
3) Avoid social media – hearing about others happy homecomings and family gatherings can make you feel worse. Why subject yourself to it? Take a break from Facebook until January 2nd.
4) Focus on others – look for a way to help someone who has a need, is hurting or lonely. You’re surrounded by opportunities. Do something anonymously, if possible – that’s extra fun. Helping others shifts the focus off yourself and brings a lot of joy to you and to them.
5) Be grateful – keep giving thanks no matter how bad you feel. Start a gratitude journal; it can be for the smallest things – something you saw or heard, not just big things.
A few years ago I read the book One Thousand Gifts by Ann Voskamp. When Ann was going through a rough time, feeling depressed, a friend challenged her to see if she could make a list of 1,000 things she was thankful for. This started her on a journey that ended up changing her life. After I read her book, I started my own journey with a gratitude journal: That was in 2009. Today I’m on #2250. It’s had a huge impact on me, as well. It could for you, too.
I hope there’s something on this list that will help you survive the holidays a little bit better than you might have. If you have more ideas to add to this list, please share them.
God Who Cares, use something on this list to lighten the heavy burden of grief and loss so many parents are feeling this holiday season. Even the thought of Thanksgiving and Christmas intensifies their pain. They feel pressure on their chests. Tears come without warning. They hurt so bad. Comfort each one. Hold them close. Lessen their pain. Please help them lower expectations, consider how they might do things differently, avoid social media (if that will help), focus on others in need and be grateful. There’s still so much to be thankful for. I thank you for how very much you care about each one of them.
“Turn to me and be gracious to me, for I am lonely and afflicted (troubled). Psalm 25:16”
“The Lord gives strength to his people; the Lord blesses his people with peace. Psalm 19:11”