During the holidays, many of us become acutely aware of “lost” loved ones — family members, friends and colleagues who are no longer with us in physical form. So, instead of experiencing the holidays as a fun and festive time of year, we wind up feeling sad, lonely or even overwhelmed by a sense of grief and loss.
And yet, I know with every fiber of my being that life is eternal. Those loved ones who are no longer in their physical bodies are not gone. They are simply not here in the same way that they were before.
We can’t hug or hold them. But we can experience them here with us. The thing is: First, we have to surrender our grief and sadness.
Now, I’m not saying that you must surrender your grief and sadness and sense of loss. This is not about me telling you what to do! You’re welcome to hang onto those feelings — or any other feelings — if you choose.
But here’s the thing: It turns out that those feelings of grief and sadness and loss actually prevent us from feeling the presence of people who have left their physical bodies.
And yet, even though we can’t feel them at the time, their loving presence is still with us … in spirit. They truly are right here … with us.
Of course, they’re not with us in the same way they once were. But we can feel their joy and their appreciation and their love in our lives, if we choose to allow them in.
So, how do we do that?
Here’s one very simple, very effective approach. It’s easiest to focus on one person at a time while you’re doing this.
- Begin by feeling grateful for the time you spent with this person, physically. Remember how much you enjoyed having this person in your life.
- Now bring up some of your favorite memories together. Can you remember how your loved one felt or smelled or sounded?
Doing this usually helps you to feel better right away, because you’ve shifted your focus. You’re no longer focused on the lack of this person. You are now focused on appreciation for — and connection with — this person.
- So, now that you are feeling appreciation for and connection with this person, simply invite your loved one to join you in experiencing the holidays this year.
And then you can expect this to happen: As you go about your days, you’ll be reminded of your loved one. You may hear his favorite Christmas carols or smell cookies that remind you of her.
In fact, I’m sure this has already been happening in your life. But, up until now, you’ve been allowing those reminders to trigger feelings of sadness, grief and loss.
Now, you can experience those reminders differently. In fact, you can experience them as what they have been all along: You can experience them as “nudges” (or “virtual hugs”) from your loved one. You can experience them as signs that your loved one is thinking of you … and is there … reaching out to connect with you.
When you recognize this in the moment, you can use this reminder as an opportunity to reconnect with those favorite memories and feelings of appreciation for your loved one.
And you’ll be amazed at what happens next: Feelings of love and appreciation and joy will fill your body, your mind and your heart. Your loved one will be right there, sharing the moment with you, and it will feel exquisite!
This is the profound gift that comes from surrendering your sadness, grief and loss, then inviting and allowing “lost” loved ones to share the holidays with you.