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Loss and the Holidays: Give Yourself Grace

I keep hearing from friends, relatives, and colleagues who are going around acting like everything is business as usual. They are planning big Christmas dinners with all of their extended family and delicious home-cooked holiday spreads. Am I the only one who remembers there is a pandemic happening right now?

Look, I get it. I grew up in a big, traditional family. My family valued maintaining holidays and traditions that consisted of cooking tons of delicious food so anyone who needed or wanted a plate could stop by and enjoy the flavors of holiday goodness. I had cousins who were more like siblings because our single-wide trailer was in their backyard. Every Christmas, my mom would cook up all the classic dishes for us. Her dressing and sweet potato pies would make you drool (I can taste the food as I write)!

I'm sure that when people watched us from the outside, we looked like the perfect family unit, but here's the reality: there were seven of us kids plus my uncle, who my mother raised. After my dad passed away, money was tight. My mother made things work, but it was harder on her than she would let on.

Typically, there's pressure to keep up the image of perfection to the outside world in Black

families – even if, in reality, we're a mess. I know this idea can apply to all, but particularly in my culture, you learn to mask and make sure you maintain dignity at any cost. We want to show the world that we're doing just fine. You want to prove that you can afford the newest gaming system for your kid's Christmas present or you want to show that you take care of your family by giving them a perfect holiday. Even if:

  • deep inside, you're feeling lonely and depressed

  • you’re unemployed because of layoffs from COVID-19

  • you're working through grief because someone you love got sick from the virus

This year, of all years, you have an excuse not to pretend that everything is okay this holiday season. Give yourself grace and permission to take a break from the holiday planning and stress this year – or any year, for that matter!  

Whatever kind of loss you're dealing with right now - loss of a job, of a loved one, of health, 

or a way of life – take this time to focus on yourself by working through your feelings about it. Give yourself a little grace.

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