Literary Liaisons

A blog about writing and all things story…

How One Writer Deals With Holiday Sadness



Christmas at the Empress
For many years after my father’s death Christmas made me cry and feel overwhelmed. As a child and young adult Christmas Eve was all about my dad, noisy, boisterous, musical and messy with eggnog slurping, fruitcake eating aunts, uncles and cousins, all of whom are gone now. Now Christmas is quiet, we are but a grateful few, not so noisy and not so musical and boisterous; no kindly old aunties pinching noses, no uncles drunk on brandy giggling in the corner, no grandmas and no grandpas and no big warm life affirming hugs from dad. Gone.
And if you’ve read my blog you know I’ve dealt with cancer, so not only are they gone, I am left dealing with my own mortality as well. My point; I can get sad. Really frickin’ sad. I just don’t allow myself to wallow in it. All those aunties, uncles and especially my dad would smack me up along the side of my head if I did.
So if you feel sad at the holidays because you’ve lost a loved one, I want you to know that you’re NOT alone. This is very common. As a writer I deal with the losses in my life – and there have been many – the way I deal with everything, first by allowing myself to feel and honor the loss, and then by writing. But you certainly don’t have to be a writer to do this.

When I’m sad I write a letter to my loved ones communicating my love for them, that I miss them and that they’re still here in my heart, in my celebrations and in my spirit. Then I take that letter and have a small ceremony of my own creation; I tear the letter into small pieces, place it on a large leaf, settle it on the lake and light the letter on fire. In folklore those flames carry your thoughts to your loved ones. This might seem crazy to you, and that’s fine, I never mind being the crazy one – it’s my ceremony; create one that works for you.  The point is to honor the sadness and then create a way to lift the paralyzing burden of that sadness. Fashion one that’s special and unique to you and your life.

For me that ritual works. Let’s not forget rituals have worked for humans since the dawn of time.
Smokey the BearDon’t have a lake nearby; use a metal garbage can, metal bowl or anything fire-safety-worthy.
Most importantly make sure the fire goes out and do NOT do this near trees.
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4 comments on “How One Writer Deals With Holiday Sadness

  1. arleen
    December 15, 2012

    I was numb yesterday with the horrors in Newton, CT, with fear for the 23-year-old friend we've known since kindergarten just diagnosed with ovarian cancer, with … the list seemed endless. I couldn't write. Couldn't get myself across town to the table at Louisa's. Thanks for the reminder, Mindy. I'm a writer. I must write through this pain because wallowing helps no one.

  2. carol
    December 15, 2012

    thank you.All the best as we celebrate and remember.Carol

  3. Judith Works
    December 15, 2012

    A comforting post for those who are stressed at this time of year – or at any time.

  4. Stephen Hayes
    December 15, 2012

    A wonderful post.

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