Like most people around the world who are celebrating a major holiday this month (for me it’s Christmas), we all could use a little hope. Nothing is the same for any of us this year. Maybe it won’t be ever again, as cliché as this sounds. Millions of people have been affected by the pandemic and reeling from the various losses and struggles they are experiencing as a direct result of it. It’s easy to lose hope and see only the bad in everything when we are hurting and afraid.
One of the things I both love and don’t love about hope is that it gives to us the essence of life itself. Without hope, there is a lot we stand to lose. Hope can give us a new foundation when our former one has fallen apart. It gives us courage. Resilience. The will to go on. Hope can give us our future. Hope comes from whatever brings us a bit of relief and any amount of comfort in our sorrow.
My one hope for the future and greatest joy has for years, dwelt within the dreams I’ve had for our family. Many that had to change after losing my daughter in 2005. This year, like countless others, our family may not be able to get together over the holidays. For me, this has been a huge disappointment. Why? Because seeing my family together always serves to renew my hope and give me the certainty we all can still have a great future, despite our personal tragedy.
In general, whatever we are dreaming of and steadfastly creating – whether furiously chasing goals or mindfully taking baby steps to keep moving forward, having hope is an essential part of our success. However we define it.
Holidays are a critical point where we are given ample opportunity with loved ones to reflect on the past and plan for the future. Considering the current times and how many of us have been left bewildered (if not angry) and disappointed to say the least about what is going on in this world, connecting with family and good friends represents that one great hope we all need right now that everything will be well in our world again. One day.
Without the certainty we can get together for the holidays this year (and in many cases have been told that we can’t), and where togetherness does foster calm and trust in our mind and heart that things will be better, we can get dangerously close to giving up on hope for all things good. And without hope, it’s easy to become lost in a dark and gloomy mindset that none of us needs right now (or ever).
Who doesn’t feel hopeful for the future and joy in the present from even the smallest glimmer of light? I know I do. I believe the same is true for most people. Which is why the sight of festive lights and the warm glow of candles resonates with us from our inherent desire for peace and joy. No matter where or who we are or the circumstances we come from.
It is true that the more pain we are in and the greater our struggle, the more vulnerable we are to feeling hopelessness. So, with this in mind, and whether or not I can see my son this Christmas, whom I adore so much and who constantly inspires within me hope and the courage to keep going, the lights are up. The tree is decorated. The Christmas music is playing. Goodies are baking. I’m doing all this not because it’s easy and tradition (it isn’t at all easy in reality), but because this year it does make me feel better. Not only about my life circumstances but the hope I have for the world in general.
Having survived a horrible experience of loss, I would encourage anyone feeling stuck and without any hope right now for themselves or the future, to try to find one small thing to hold onto that represents a glimmer of possibility for change, even if this is only in their mind today. It really is true that regardless of how crappy we are feeling because of the blows life has dealt us, we can still create that measure of tranquility that with hope and trust, can help us believe our lives will get better.
If you are struggling with loss, here are tips to manage the holidays.