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Episode 44: What If the Holidays Aren’t Always Happy?
We often think of the holiday season as the brightest time of year, filled with love and warmth. And for many, that’s true. But real life doesn’t press pause at the holidays. So many of us are wading through hard things: a relationship on its last legs, a bank account stretched too thin, a problem we a child we don’t know how to solve, an empty chair at the holiday table. This season, many of us find that we’re holding grief and joy in both hands. It can feel like a hard and confusing burden to figure out how to carry any time of year, but especially this one, when we’re handed a script on how we’re supposed to perform the holidays. But today, Emily’s here to talk you through how to gently lay down that script and acknowledge what you’re going through. She’ll walk you through a few different ways you can tenderly care for yourself and honor the season you’re in right now. We wish this episode was completely irrelevant and that you had no use for it. But here at the Simplified Sisterhood, we want you to know that we’re here to help carry you through this season, however long it may be. Because in the midst of the hard days, one thing remains: the love that comes from community.
Small Steps to Honor Your Grief This Season
Share stories and memories with your people. Find comfort, laughter, and joy in memories of those who are no longer celebrating with you.
Celebrate normal traditions—or don’t. Do what works for you and your family, there is no one size fits all method for tackling difficult emotions.
Turn down invitations if you need to. Ensure you create space for yourself this season, even if it means spending some time alone or at smaller gatherings.
Tell someone how you’re feeling. Share the emotional toll and take some weight off your shoulders.
- Remember, it’s okay to not feel okay. That’s true every time of year, but especially during the holiday season.
“Even if it makes you a little teary, sometimes living through those memories and talking about these special people can bring back some wonderful memories, even if the edges are laced with grief. ” – Emily Ley
“I know sometimes it feels trite to say take care of yourself. Maybe I should say create space for yourself, because that's really what you're doing. You're creating space for your whole self to exist. Your mind, obviously, which you're well acquainted with, but also your body and soul. Sometimes they get neglected when you're holed up in your grief. Sometimes you need to feed them. Sometimes that looks different depending on the season.” – Emily Ley
“It's okay to hold joy and grief together at the same time. In fact, that's completely normal. We are holding them together through the rest of the year, and the holidays are no different right now.” – Emily Ley
A Blessing for Your Week
I hope you remember it's normal to hold joy and grief together during the holidays.
I hope you remember you don't need permission to care for yourself, however you need any time of the year.
And above all, I hope you know how much you are loved right in this moment, just as you are.
Simplicity Tip of the Week
If you're holding a lot of grief this time of year, it can make you feel so alone. But I want you to know that you are far from alone. There's a really great book I recommend by a tremendous writer named Bo Stern. It's called When Holidays Hurt, and she tells her own story of carrying pain through the holidays as she said goodbye to her husband, Steve, as he battled ALS for many years. It is a lovely, moving book. If you're needing a resource like that today, go pick it up from the library.
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