So, you are thinking about skipping the holidays altogether. Let me assure you: You wouldn't be the first and you won't be the last.
When you're struggling with grief, the prospect of dealing with holidays can feel impossible: the rituals, the traditions, the shopping, the cooking, the music, the decorations, the cards, the family, the parties... I am starting to feel a bit ill just thinking about it honestly!
No surprise, there are moments when your best option feels like skipping the holidays completely—and we totally support this plan. However, there are a few things anyone thinking about skipping the holidays should consider.
It's Okay to Skip the Holidays
Really, it is. Let's say it together: It's okay to skip the holidays. That said, there will inevitably be some people who will make you feel like crap about your decision.
You may need to remind yourself again and again (and again and again) that it is absolutely okay to take a break from the holidays. No matter how many people try to shame you into coming to the holiday party or having everyone over for Christmas dinner, remember your needs and stay strong!
Skipping The Holidays This Year Doesn't Mean Skipping Them Forever
I'm not sure if you've noticed but, for better or worse, the holidays roll around every year. Your decision this year really has little bearing on whether you celebrate next year.
If this has been a particularly rough year, you may realize you just can't handle the holidays and you need a break. Next year, you may feel differently... and that is absolutely okay.
Are You Skipping The Holidays for the Right Reasons?
Figuring this out can be tough. The important thing to consider is: Do you want to skip the holidays, or are you being pressured by external factors? We all grieve differently, so it can be tough when some people want to have a traditional holiday and others do not.
Do your best to sort out your own wants, while giving yourself time to properly consider the decision. In one emotional moment, it can be easy to throw in the towel and decide to skip the holiday... but it's important to give yourself time to assess and reassess whether that is the right decision for you.
It is also important to make sure that giving yourself a break from the holidays isn't straight up avoidance. (Read Avoidance Coping vs. Grief Relief: Taking a Break from Grief). You are going to have to face these holidays every year, and there can be a big difference between "I just need a break this year" and "I am absolutely never willing to leave my home in the month of December ever again."
You Might be REALLY Glad You Skipped the Holiday
Sometimes skipping a holiday is a huge relief and it's just what you need. If this happens, that's wonderful. Try to embrace that you did what was best for you and don't let yourself feel guilt imposed by others. You assessed your needs, took action (even when it was tough), and it worked for you!
You Might be REALLY Unhappy You Skipped the Holiday
Sometimes skipping the holiday backfires. Maybe you decide to fly to the tropics and lay on the beach, maybe you decide to hole up in your bed and watch movies all day. Whatever you do, sometimes you end up feeling even worse than you think you would have otherwise.
Sometimes skipping the holidays sounds a lot better than it actually is. If you skip the holiday and realize it might not have been the best decision, cut yourself a break. You can always do things differently next year! You were trying to take care of yourself and, unfortunately, we don't always know what is best for us. We do the best we can at the moment and, when we make the wrong choice, we just do it better next time.
Decide What You Will Do
It is easy to decide what you won't do for the holidays; but it can be far more difficult to decide what you will do instead. When everyone else is planning for their standard holiday cheer, it is important that you too consider your plans for the day.
There is no right or wrong for your not-holiday. Do whatever you want, no judgment... but don't let the day creep up on you without a plan. For some inspiration in planning to skip a holiday, read my article: Father’s Day Sulking Without Apology. It is just as crazy as it sounds, but whatever works, right?
When You Can't Skip the Holidays
As much as we support self-care, taking breaks, and tending to your own needs, the reality is that sometimes you will have to suck it up and get through the holidays for other people. If that's the case, we do have some tips. Read 5 Tips: Surviving Tradition for the Children’s Sake Check or check out one of other holiday posts.
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