The Ugly Christmas Sweater

There is an ugly side to Christmas for many people. For those who lost loved ones, or experience depression, or have a lack of supportive loved ones, this may be a very difficult time of the year. It hangs and weighs on them like a heavy blanket, and they wear it everywhere they go.

This is my first Christmas without my brother, who loved Christmas very much. We would spend hours putting up decorations. The wave of grief I have and am feeling is quite profound. I have never truly understood or had adequate compassion for those who are/have gone through this until now. It is something in your wildest imagination you cannot comprehend. It is also different for everyone and with each grieving experience.

I have sat down so many times to write so many different posts this month, and I have been wanting to keep everything really positive (and I promise to get back to positive posts!) but I don’t think the writer’s block will go away until I get this off my chest.

People in healthcare deal with grieving and loss at much higher rates than anyone else. We get close to our patients and grieve when they pass on. For those reading who work or have worked in healthcare, I know you understand what I’m talking about. For those who are unfamiliar with the trials and tribulations of healthcare, this is a dark reality. To the individuals who have it in them to work hospice, where they are guaranteed to lose their favorite patient every. Single. Time. Hats off to you, because I could not do it.

Grief does not always mean losing a loved one. Grief can come from divorce, losing a job, or anything that you considered part of your identity. Perhaps you just graduated college and you don’t know who you are outside of being a student. Any one of these may cause the holiday blues.

Ways to cope:

Let yourself grieve! Allow the time for you to go through your feelings. Just as I have taken a short sabbatical from blog posting, you may need to slow down for a little while. In order to deal with your grief, you have to allow yourself to move through your emotions, not run from them. Not that there are moments that you may need to numb yourself if the pain is way to great, but hopefully that is not something that needs to occur. If you feel as though you need to numb the pain, be sure to seek medical help.

If someone is grieving around you… the best thing you can do is allow them to express when they need to, but don’t force it either. Support does not mean having to constantly cheer them up, but doing something silly to make them laugh when they are pulling out of a hard moment can be uplifting as well. Read the person and allow them what they need to do. In order for them to work through their grief to get to a point of being able to function and deal, they need to go through these moments.

You can grieve and have fun at the same time. This sounds counter-intuitive BUT sometimes the best thing you can do is laugh and have people around you that make you feel lighter. If you lost a loved one, you know they would want you to have a great life, not drowning in sadness. You can miss a loved one and find your fun again. If you do, it will help your mental health in the long run!

Please remember that although this is a magical time of the year, it does not mean that every single person is able to dwell on the good. Try to remember when you see someone moody in the grocery store, or sad in the clothing store. Maybe smile at them, wish them a merry Christmas/happy holidays, or give them a compliment (only if you mean it, nothing worse than an insincere compliment when you already feel like sh*t). Everyone has their trials. If we could support one another instead of continuing to tear them down, like society teaches us to do, our world would be a much better place.

Are you grieving something this Christmas? Have you ever experienced a Christmas in grief? Tell me about it! Let’s get a conversation going…

31 thoughts on “The Ugly Christmas Sweater

  1. Christmas isn’t always a happy time, there’s so many things that go on in everyone’s lives behind closed doors, I’m so sorry about your brother. This is my first Christmas without my Nan and it still makes me cry to this day even if it’s been a few months. Great advice though, it’s definitely ok to give yourself the time to grieve.

    Take care,
    Chloe Chats xx

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    1. I am so sorry. We are in a society that often wants us to bottle our emotions and “man up” or not be the “crazy woman” because we feel something. It is so damaging. We should definitely support one another and allow each other the opportunity to deal with our emotions!

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  2. This is so true! Grief can take many forms. I do believe that it’s so easy to get attached to certain patients since you are a healthcare worker and you get to know them over time as you help care for them. Grieving with others can realy help as you said! It makes things lighter, and you are allowed to laugh and cry together, and have fun and find comfort in such things. Great post Syrah! ❤

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  3. I’m so sorry about your brother and I wish you and your family all the love this Christmas. I’m sure he would have been so proud and happy to have you sharing this story to help others who are going through the same thing. I also lost something that was very special to me only 4 months ago and this will be my first Christmas without him. It will be hard and very emotional but I’ve grieved, and I’m going to try to have fun by just honouring a wonderful memory just like you are doing. Lovely post, darling. Look at me getting all emotional!! Ahhh xxx

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    1. Gosh, I’m getting emotional just reading your comment… must not cry.. oh damnit. Thank you reading and sharing your story. I hope you have all the support and love this Christmas

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  4. Gosh, this brought me to tears. I have many around me who have lost loved ones but personally, I haven’t lost anyone close. I can only imagine how hard it is. And a special thank you to everyone in healthcare. My mom and sister are nurses. You all are amazing. I’ll be thinking about you and your brother this season. If you ever need someone to talk to, just reach out! ❤

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  5. I am so so so sorry for your loss! I can only begin to imagine how hard this must be for you. But you’re brother will be looking down on you on Christmas Day, and I’m sure he’ll want you to have some good food, a few drinks and a laugh. One of those easier said than done situations. Your tips are so helpful even for me and I’m lucky enough to yet to loose a loved one. My gran has passed but I was too young to really understand. Merry Christmas lovely xx

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  6. I’m so sorry to hear about your brother, dear! And yes, there’s a sad part about Christmas. It isn’t always festive especially when you’re so far away from your loved ones. Like me, I have been spending almost 3 Christmases with my husband’s family and I’m just really sad that I couldn’t spend the time on my side of the fam because they’re far away and they have work. That kind of stuff. I know how it feels like to lose a loved one. I lost my mom 14 years ago and I still grieve up to this day. I love what you wrote in here, love. I’m sure everyone will be able to relate to this. I hope you are feeling better every day! Your brother is an angel now and I’m sure he’d want to see you happy xx

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    1. Thank you for your time and sharing your story with me. I had this heavy feeling that inhibited me from writing or really accomplishing anything until I got this off my chest. I’m happy you liked what I wrote and appreciate your kind words.

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  7. You’re such a strong woman! You managed to write this all out, I’ve tried writing a letter for my mom a few years back but I couldn’t even do it without sobbing like I just couldn’t, I know how it feels like to miss someone terribly! We’re all here for you!!!!

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  8. This is such a perfect post. Thank you for writing this. I am so sorry that you are grieving. I am not a huge fan of Christmas neither. I struggle very much with mental health issues, and then there have been quite a few deaths that have happened in my life in December. Every year is tough, and it never seems to get any better. I am sending lots of love your way this year girl.

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    1. Thank you. I have always loved Christmas, and still do. That makes it feel so weird to have this angst to deal with at the moment. I have a lot of compassion for those who have lost loved ones especially in these times that really bring up that pain.

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  9. Thank you for sharing, it’s a very personal story so I’m sure it was very difficult for you to write about. Your story and coping mechanisms will help so many people who struggle with loss of a loved one at this time of the year.

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  10. This is a really important post, and I’m so sorry for your loss of your brother. Christmas can be a really hard time but these are such good tips. I particularly like that you can grieve and have fun at the same time- often people feel guilty for doing so don’t they but it’s so important to try not to

    Soph – https://sophhearts.com x

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    1. It is important! It is also a step in the direction of moving through the grief. I know the loss will never be gone; however, it is important to start living as best as you can through the pain.

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  11. I am so sorry to hear of your loss. I think this is a really important post. Some people don’t know how to grieve, it doesn’t come naturally to some people (I’m speaking from my own personal experiences). This post will really help others who are struggling at this difficult time of year xxx

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    1. I hope so! It feels a bit weird to have this so public, as there have been very few people I’ve actually told (mainly family and my nursing family). My goal is to help someone else while lifting the weight of it from my chest. Not that it diminishes the grief but it has helped me to write again.

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  12. My condolences to you and your family. Very sorry to hear about your brother. We can never know when we’ll lose a beloved person close to us. Thanks for sharing such a personal post with us. These are really great tips to help someone going through the same thing.

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