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  • Kate Wilamska

Holiday Grief and 6 seconds of hope

Any other year we would now be talking about how much more stuff we need to accomplish feeling fully in the holiday spirit, or the opposite: bashing the nonsense of consumerism and saying how we need to make the holidays more about the family, closeness and going back to basics. This year, however, we may feel that we have had enough of the closeness of the family with whom we shared close quarters these past 8 months. This year we may be fed up with just basics and with the loved ones who act like they care more about their beliefs than us.

Year 2020 made us crave being with others, not just immediate family, because those father from us offered sense of out of ordinary - no matter how ordinary our encounters were. Year 2020 also helped us realize that what makes us who we are are the choices we make day in and out - who we smiled to, spoke to, let go in front of us, asked for help with getting that one item on the top shelf at the grocery store, and even how we coped with the whole crazy pandemic thing. This year, as we recognized the limited choices we were given, we feel profound sense of loss of all we took for granted last year: hours in the coffee shop or a library, impromptu hanging out in the public places, and home and office parties with potluck goodies we eagerly shared.

This holiday season will be different because we ARE grieving the life we had before COVID, while still trying to uphold some of the traditions. And, like generations before us, we will be reminiscing on the past, reflecting on where we are now and hopefully envisioning our futures with a renewed empowerment. We still have a choice: get stuck lamenting what was and spend every bit of energy trying to go back to it, or adjust, adapt, regroup... It has not been easy to do so the entire year, so that is why we need to spend more time on acknowledging our bereavement. Let's get in the habit of expressing and honoring our emotions. Tolerating the unpleasant feeling is an art; more so, because the trick is to not make it a sole mode of life. Rather than expecting and cultivating the belief that unpleasant factors and feelings will always be there, we can learn to cast ourselves forward and make a leap toward what is yet possible.

It may seem crazy, but spending just 6 seconds (yes, 6 seconds) refocusing on what we are looking forward to could help us rewire our brain to a completely different outlook. Neurology has proven it over and over again: our body does not distinguish between the real thing and an imaginary one - it responds to the pleasant memories just as if we were actually reliving them and it creates a sense of well being when we imagine a welcome scenario of the future. So go ahead, day dream for just a minute. Try it. Let it fill you up and change you. Let it sink in and transform your body.

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