With Halloween behind us, we now begin the difficult slide into the holiday season.
Whether this is the first one without your love, or you’ve survived several, the holiday season is almost always difficult. At the very least, it has some tender spots.
Before we get there though, we have All Souls’ Day in the Catholic tradition, which happened over this last weekend. This day has its roots in many traditions, including those pre-dating the Judeo-Christian calendar. On All Soul’s day, you send out love and prayers for the benefit of your own dead, wishing them well on the journey, whatever that journey might be.
Rooting yourself in your love for the one you’ve lost, wishing them well in whatever form or formlessness they might be in now, can give you an anchor any time of year, but it seems especially nice to start off this season with a day dedicated to wishing them well.
Leaning into that love can help you too, if even only a little.
If you have to endure the holiday season, and let’s face it – most of us can’t completely avoid it, it really is a kindness to give yourself as many tools as you can for getting through with even a little bit of peace. Remember, there isn’t a lot you can do to make grief “better,” but it certainly can be made worse. Not having any tools at all, not being able to find any anchor point in the swirling chaos of pain, well – that often makes it worse.
So how would you even do this? How can the love you have for them, even in their absence, be a balm for you?
Please consider this an experiment, my readers. If it brings you any sense of comfort, great. If it doesn’t, please discard the tool itself, but do keep looking, keep experimenting. Anything that brings you even the slightest steadiness of heart is a good tool.
Let’s get back to that rooting into the love you knew then, and the love you still know now.
I think you can do this whether you believe in any kind of afterlife or not.
To start, take a few deep breaths, as deep as you can. You might even set a timer for a few minutes so you can let go of watching the clock.
See if you can find your expansive love, the actual feeling of loving your person. This may be painful, yes. But it can often be that pain that comes attached to a deeper place – hard to describe, but when you drop into it, it’s just… different. It’s like there’s pain, then there’s suffering, then there’s pain that has this companioning presence. That’s the one we’re going for: pain with a companioning presence. You want to access that deep channel of love you carry. We all carry it, sometimes just below the surface, sometimes needing a bit more work to find.
Call up the one you love in your mind and heart. Root yourself there in that love.
Imagine sending that love out to the one you’ve lost, wherever and whenever they find themselves now. If you believe they’ve returned to the ecosystem of this life, you can still send that love to the elements they’ve become.
As you’re beaming that love out, you’re sitting inside it too.
Do you feel a shift as you do this? As you drop into your love?
That’s your center. Where that love is, that’s your home.
Placing yourself there, deep inside your love, is sort of a fall-out shelter. It’s a protected zone. Finding that place now, in such close orbit with All Souls’ Day, can help you set an intention for the coming season – one of love and shelter for yourself. One of turning yourself back towards that love when things get rough.
If we can find ourselves there, rooted in that love, those difficult moments of the holiday season become – well, not “good,” but maybe just slightly more bearable. It’s like finding an anchor in a storm, or a focal point when the rest of the world is swirling.
Whatever happens in the outside world, whatever chaos looms, love is the anchor that can keep you grounded. Love, seating yourself in that love, gives you a small still point inside a wobbly universe.
I’ve thrown out a lot of images in just these short paragraphs, so take whatever works: love as a fall-out shelter, an anchor, or a still point. When everything else has gone hazy, finding your love for the one who has died can act as all of these things.
In the days to come, draw on that love. In the days to come, send out that love.
Root yourself there.
The holiday season might be rough, but please remember, you can always gift yourself a tiny little corner of peace. If you need some reminders and pointers on how to get through this season, be sure to check out this article on how to survive the holidays as a grieving person.
And how about you – what are some elements of the upcoming holiday season you dread most? Are there any things you (gasp) look forward to, if even a little? Can you see yourself using your love as an anchor in the months to come? Let us know in the comments.