One of my favorite Christmas shows of all time is the original Dr. Seuss version of “How the Grinch Stole Christmas!” Though it made me cry as a child, it wasn’t Christmas if I didn’t see this show.
Now, as an End of Life Coach, I see this show all the time. The difference, however, is that I see it in real life, not on television. Grief is a “Grinch” that steals the joy of Christmas from many people. It is also the cause of many people becoming a “Grinch,” and being miserable toward everyone else.
How do we tame the Grinch? How do we keep our grief from stealing our Christmas? How do we keep the loss that we experienced from turning us into a “Grinch?”
The Grinch himself shows us how…
1) “That’s one thing I hate! All the noise, noise, noise, noise!”
The Grinch clearly expressed his feelings. We can learn from him in this regard. Keeping our emotions deep down inside will only increase our likeliness
of becoming a “Grinch,” or of having our Christmas stolen. Cry if you need to cry. Rage if you need to rage. Allow the longings, the loneliness, or whatever you
2) “So he took his dog Max, and he took some thread, and he tied a big horn on top of his head.”
The Grinch made Max do more than he could handle, and Max tipped forward on his face. It is important for us to accept our physical and emotional limitations this Christmas. Be gentle and patient with yourself. Be kind to yourself and give yourself a break. You might not be able to do all that you usually do – and that is okay.
3) “I know just what to do! I’ll make a quick Santy Claus hat and a coat. What a great Grinchy trick. With this coat and this hat, I’ll look just like Saint Nick!”
You need to hand it to the Grinch- he planned ahead. We can learn from him. A sure recipe for feeling down and overwhelmed on Christmas is to have no strategy at all. Decide what will be helpful and what will be hurtful, and plan around it. Be careful of the tendency to do what others expect of you. Give yourself permission to choose what is best for you. Remember, there is no right or wrong way to celebrate Christmas.
4) “But this… this sound wasn’t sad. Why… this sound sounded glad. Every Who down in Whoville, the tall and the small, was singing.”
Sometimes when we are grieving the death of a loved one, we end up feeling guilty when we realize that we are actually having a good time. Moments of happiness seem to somehow dishonor the person we miss. But it’s okay for you to have fun. The fact that you are still able to smile does not reflect on your love for the person or on the depth of your loss. So if you unexpectedly find yourself enjoying this Christmas, embrace it!
5) “Welcome, Christmas, bring your cheer. Cheer to all Whos far and near. Christmas Day is in our grasp, so long as we have hands to clasp.”
While you grieve the loss of your loved one, reflect on the hands around you that you still have to grasp. Give thanks for them, and hold on tight.
6) “He puzzled and puzzed till his puzzler was sore. Then the Grinch thought of something he hadn’t before. Maybe Christmas, he thought, doesn’t come from a store. Maybe Christmas, perhaps… means a little bit more!
One of the best ways to tame your “Grinch” is to remember what Christmas is all about, and to celebrate the real meaning of this holiday.
Many in grief feel isolated because of the way Christmas is portrayed on the Christmas cards and in the Hallmark specials we watch on TV. Families are all together, the scenes are so pretty, the snow is falling, and everything is perfect. This, however, is not reality. It was not reality during the first Christmas either. The first Christmas was messy and painful. Think of the confused teenaged mom who birthed her first child far from home, next to noisy animals in a smelly barn. Think of the Father who loves us so much that He gave His only Son over to poverty, pain, danger and death.
The reality is, we who are hurting and grieving can probably understand the real meaning of Christmas better than anyone else. Take time to reflect on that.
Merry Christmas from Coaching at End of Life!