At holiday time when we’re supposed to be feeling joyous, many people are instead feeling lonely, depressed and grief-stricken. Adding to their pain, people who care about them might not understand or recognize their plight or know how to help.
Mary Lee Robinson, a certified grief expert, author and editor of a lifestyle magazine for widows, is encouraging people to start two new traditions this year.
The first is something any family can do: include neighbors, friends and other non-family members in your holiday traditions if they don’t have anyone to celebrate with. This Set-an-Extra-Plate Initiative is something she has been practicing for years. She says, “My family tradition was to embrace our solo friends on holidays and include them in our celebrations. It was about remembering and acknowledging everyone. It was about understanding that not everything was ‘all about me.’ It was the very soul of being inclusive. My husband and I had a next-door neighbor who lost his wife and all four sisters within a year. He and his daughter were estranged. Directly across the street was an elderly spinster with no family. Both of them were painfully lonely and we enjoyed having them as guests.”
The second tradition is one lonely people can carry out for themselves and comes courtesy of Robinson’s friend Pat, who found creative ways to handle her late-in-life loneliness. Robinson says, “Pat takes a long drive, sings some songs in the car, and says a few prayers. She also makes some Christmas preparations for herself that are just brilliant!”
Pat goes online to buy gifts for herself and uses the gift-wrap service. She fills out the cards with messages like “you’ve been such a good girl this year, Pat!” or “Santa loves you, Pat and you deserve this!”
Robinson says, “What if we started a new tradition, a DIY initiative? We could send ourselves a gift or two from our missing loved one. We know exactly what they would say. What if we sent ourselves gifts to unwrap in the morning and the card was signed by that special person and the message was in their voice?”
She points out that gifts don’t have to be extravagant, maybe a new lipstick, or a good book.” It’s about filling the bottomless void and feeling their presence with their small presents. It’s about not feeling so empty and alone. It’s about still feeling the love…because that never dies,” Robinson says.
About Mary Lee Robison
Author, blogger, grief coach and widows’ advocate Mary Lee Robinson edits Widowlution Online Magazine and teaches grief healing on LifeCoachHub. Suddenly widowed in 2013, she found few resources available to help heal her broken heart; she felt compelled to work on behalf of the widowed to fill the gap in support for the grieving. She is the author of six books.