Welcome to The Widowed Mom Podcast, episode 176, How we Make the Holidays Harder in Grief. Are you starting to dread the holidays and it’s not even Halloween? If so, you aren’t alone and in today’s episode I’m going to help you with any impending holiday dread you might be feeling and let you know about a free holiday event I’m doing just for widowed moms so you can join in, get some extra support and have an easier experience of the holidays.
Welcome to The Widowed Mom Podcast, the only podcast that offers a proven process to help you work through your grief, to grow, evolve, and create a future you can truly look forward to. Here’s your host, Master Certified life coach, grief expert, widow, and mom, Krista St-Germain.
Hey there, welcome to another episode of the podcast. Fall, you know I love it. I am loving it. Tomorrow we are going to go to Symphony on the Grand Lawn which I’ve never been to before but it is at our local botanical gardens and our symphony orchestra does an outdoor concert on the Grand Lawn. And so, I’m really excited about that. The weather looks to be amazingly and I just love stuff like that and it feels like I don’t get enough of it especially with COVID, just haven’t done as much of it. And so, it’s nice to actually start doing more things around town.
And then Saturday is our local Chilli Fest, also have never been to that. So, we’re going to check that out. And then I’ve been saving my Pansy Mania money, so the boyfriend and I bought – we’ve been landscaping in this house for about the last year. But we bought a whole bunch of plants, and bushes, and other things at one of our local garden centers earlier this summer. And when we did so we got this Pansy Mania money and so Pansy Mania is happening right now.
And so, we’re going to go spend it this weekend and plant pansies in the front of the house because last year they did so well and it was just such a nice little pop of color and they kept, you know, they bloom in the fall and then if you leave them they come back up in the spring. And I just love them. So that’s the super exciting stuff happening in my neck of the woods.
Alright, I want to talk about how we make the holidays harder in grief today. And I also want to recommend that if you haven’t listened to it ever or lately, that you go back and check out episode 24, Happier Holidays After Loss because it is also very helpful to listen to around this time of year. And we’ll link to it in the show notes. And then also if you don’t know, if you go to coachingwithkrista.com/podcast, we have a search feature built into the website.
So, if you’re ever looking for a podcast episode now that there are a lot of them and you’re struggling to find it, go there and use that search feature and you can search by keywords and that will help you pull up podcast episodes that you’re looking for. I don’t know if I ever mentioned that before. So, I wanted to make sure you know that is available to you.
So, in today’s episode though, what I want to talk about are three ways that we make the holidays harder on ourselves than they have to be. And I also want to invite you before I get into the topic to a free holiday event that I’m doing October 24th through the 27th. And it’s going to build off of this episode. It’s not a repeat of this episode at all. It’s actually quite different. So, if you like this episode you’ll love the event. But it’s called Happier Holidays for Widowed Moms, Three Days, Three Ways to Make the Holidays Easier.
And what we’re going to do October 24th through the 27th is I’m going to go live every day for three days. It won’t be long, probably about a half an hour. I’m going to teach you a tool, a concept every day during each of those three days. This is not complicated event. This is not a time consuming event. This is a very easy event to participate in. It will all be online. If you cannot make those three live trainings that I do they will all be recorded, we will send them to you. And again, it’s free. You can go to coachingwithkrista.com/freeholidayevent and you can sign up.
And there are actually two options. So, I want everybody to be able to participate in it. So, I’m making the basic event which will by itself be very useful to you, I’m making the basic event free. And then I’m also offering what I’m calling the VIP experience which is a crazy insane value, because for $37 you’re going to get over $500 worth of bonuses, things I’ve never actually even made available before. And a bonus class, the chance to get coached by me.
So, you can either participate for free or choose the VIP experience which I highly recommend but either way go to coachingwithkrista.com/freeholidayevent. And also, we’re going to be using our Facebook group for this. So, if you’re not in it, we’ll send you a link so that you can join it. It is free, it is private, it is just for widowed moms. And I always love any time other widowed moms can connect with one another because we always feel like we’re on an island by ourself.
And it’s so nice to be able to have other women going through even a free event like this with us, because everybody’s being honest about their experiences. And we’re proving to ourselves that there’s nothing wrong with us and we’re not the only ones. And so, I want to invite you to participate.
Okay, so let’s talk about the ways that we make the holidays harder on ourselves, so much harder on ourselves than they have to be. One thing we do is that we tend to tell ourselves a story about how the holidays should be, which then doesn’t allow space for us to experience the holidays as they actually are. And what this might look like in your brain, it’ll usually have the word ‘should’ in it. It might look like, they should be better, the holidays should be better than they are. They should be happier.
They should be more joyful. They shouldn’t be so sad. They shouldn’t be so hard. Our person should be here, they should be here and they’re not. My in-laws should be different. My kids should be different. I should be different for my kids or my in-laws. All of these shoulds, we have this idea and I don’t think that it helps us in any way, shape or form that we’re sold so much around the holiday season in terms of how happy it should be, how bright, and shiny, and well put together and curated the holiday experience should be. We’re marketed that at every turn.
And then typically we put so much pressure on ourselves especially as women to make all of that happen. So, we already kind of come into the holidays idealizing them and romanticizing them. And then when we lose our person now it seems like there’s an even greater distance between how they’re going to be, how they are and what our brain tells us they should be. And we buy into that story. We don’t recognize it for what it is. We don’t see that how our brain is telling us it should be is optional.
And so of course then we get our brain focused on something we think it should be which completely negates our ability to enjoy and inexperience it for what it actually is. Because not all holiday seasons are amazing. And even the amazing ones are still experienced by humans. So even the amazing ones that we look back and we say, “Wow, that holiday season was amazing.” Even those had their ups and downs, even those had negative emotion as part of them. We just kind of seem to forget and glamorize.
And so, give consideration to the story that you’re inclined to tell yourself about how the holidays should be this year. And notice how when you do that you aren’t able to make space for how you are actually experiencing the holidays. If we could drop the shoulds we would have such a better experience of the holidays, we could let them be as they are, as they unfold as opposed to telling ourselves and believing that they should be some way that they aren’t. So that’s number one.
Number two. We worry about what we’re walking into instead of focusing on what we’re walking in with. And what I mean by that is this, we are walking into the holiday season with a whole lot of strength and resilience, a whole lot of agency, a whole lot of skill, and capability, and power that we don’t give ourselves credit for or focus on. Think about it, we have already been through so much more than most and yet we discount it. We tell ourselves that we had no choice. We had to be strong.
We didn’t have a choice, we just did the best we could but we didn’t have a choice. Such a lie. We could have totally checked out but we didn’t and we’ve literally survived a 100% of our worst days. We have demonstrated our own resilience over, and over, and over. But yet we don’t give ourselves credit for that. We don’t give ourselves credit for the amazing women that we already are. We have the ability to handle what’s already been thrown at us, whatever is thrown at us, we’ve already done it. We have proven it true.
And if we look back and we’re like, “Dang, I’ve been through some stuff, maybe I am more powerful than I give myself credit for.” And we start to focus on what we’re walking in with. We’re walking into the holidays with the ability to allow any feeling to pass through us and that’s the worst part, the feelings, always is, that’s the worst part. And yet we have the ability to allow any feeling to pass through us. If you have forgotten go back and listen to How to Feel Better Now, one of the very early episodes, teaches the process that I teach.
In Mom Goes On we practice it, and practice it, and practice it until you genuinely believe you’re good at it and I help you with it. But we already are walking into the holidays with the ability to handle any feeling, the ability to allow it, to let it pass through us. We’re also walking in with the ability to choose what we want to believe. Just because thoughts appear, doesn’t mean we have to listen to them. We are walking into the holidays with the knowledge that we are the thinker, we are the awareness.
We are not the thoughts we think. We are not the stories in our brain. We are the awareness that gets to choose what we want to think, even about that uncle you hate. We get to choose what to think. We’re walking in with the ability to create our own emotional experiences with our brains no matter what happens, and we forget that. And instead of reminding ourselves of what we’re walking in with we get all worried about what we’re walking into, which totally gives our power away to things outside of us.
So, let’s not do that this year. Let’s not tell ourselves stories about how the holidays should be when they aren’t going to be that way. Let’s not tell ourselves that we have to worry about what we’re walking into, instead let’s bring the focus back to what we’re walking in with.
And the third thing we do that makes it harder on us, makes the holidays so much harder than they have to be is that we don’t stay in our own lane, we forget. And I don’t think we do this on purpose, but we forget that we don’t cause other people’s feelings, and we don’t. We don’t cause other people’s feelings but yet we keep acting like we do. We try to hop in somebody else’s lane and make them feel differently than they do. We can do that, we can think somebody else’s thoughts. Thoughts cause feelings, not us.
I’m always talking about this in Mom Goes On, we are the neutral circumstance in our clients’ model, meaning they might have thoughts about us but we aren’t the cause of those thoughts. And if their thoughts are causing their feelings then why do we keep taking credit for their feelings? Why do we keep trying to change so that they feel better when that’s not something we have the ability to control? We get into their lane instead of staying in our own. We can’t create other people’s holiday experiences.
If somebody feels disappointed in our decision about the way we’re going to spend the holiday, hey, maybe you decide that this year you want to get out and not do the same holiday tradition. If you decide that because somebody in your family feels disappointed with your decision you’re trying to create their experience. Why are you owning their experience? Don’t get in their lane, stay in yours. You can’t create their experience. You can’t create how they feel, they’re doing that. Stop owning it, stay in your lane.
I feel a little passionate today. And there’s nothing we can do to take what’s happened away from our family or our kids. We can’t make up for a loss with extra great presents. We need to not put pressure on ourselves to somehow compensate for what has happened, with the experience we create, the presents we buy, the food, any of it. We can’t change what has happened. Our kids are still going to feel how they feel and it’s still not something we can change.
We can decide how we want to show up. We can decide to show up in a way that aligns with what we value and what’s important to us. We can decide how we want to feel. We can decide how we want to think. We can create the experience we want to have. But when we don’t stay in our own lane, we measure our success based on other people’s response, based on other people’s experience and that’s not fair. That’s not fair because you can’t control that. So, we’ve got to let it go.
We’ve got to get back on our lane, we’ve got to notice when we’re in somebody else’s lane, whether it’s your kids’ lane, your mother’s lane, your father-in-law’s lane, whoever’s lane it is you’re trying to be in, when you notice that you’re there, come back. What do I want to think? How do I want to feel? How do I want to show? And can I let them think, and feel, and act how they think, and feel, and act? Because that is their lane and I’m going to stay in in mine.
This holiday season is only going to come one time, yes, there will be others but this one only comes once. And even though your person died, I want to offer that you can stay present with what is and not wish it away. Your experience of it will be so much easier if you stop believing the should stories that your brain is offering you, if you stop worrying about what you’re walking into and start focusing on what you’re walking in with. And if you notice when you’re in somebody else’s lane and you come back to your own. That’s how we make holidays easier and you can do that.
And I want to invite you, go register for my free Happier Holidays for Widowed Moms event, coachingwithkrista.com/freeholidayevent. You can do the free option, although I highly recommend the VIP option. And I’m going to teach you three ways over the course of three days to make the holidays even easier. And they’re not just a repeat of today’s podcast. We’re actually going to spend time together.
I have worksheets for you. I have little steps you can take and things that will truly make your experience this holiday season much easier. Pain is a part of the human experience. We’re not going to take away our pain, it’s supposed to be there. Suffering is optional, you do not need to have a holiday full of suffering, you just don’t. Okay, alright, whatever’s going on for you, I love you and you’ve got this. Take care and I’ll see you next week, bye bye.
If you like what you’ve been hearing on this podcast and want to create a future you can truly get excited about after the loss of your spouse, I invite you to join my Mom Goes On coaching program. It’s small group coaching just for widowed moms like you where I’ll help you figure out what’s holding you back and give you the tools and support you need so that you can move forward with confidence.
Please don’t settle for a new normal that’s less than you deserve. Go to coachingwithkrista.com and click work with me for details and the next steps. I can’t wait to meet you.