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Conquering the Holiday Blues

Updated on December 6, 2013

Conquering the Holiday Blues

My dear friends I have written very extensively that I have lost actually several loved ones this year and this is particularly trying Holiday season for me. My son is non verbal with Autism and has no outlet for his grief.

While I am a behavioral therapist and a very rational person I can’t help be feel the loss at the Holidays. Thanksgiving has been rough. I will not lie to any of you. But as I go through this I am taking notes as to what has helped. And I would like to share these bits of advice for conquering the Holiday blues attributed with grief.

Embrace the Depression and Then Let it Go.

The Memory Books and Autism

My son like myself has a photographic memory. So everything in his life has been carefully catalogued in what we refer to as Memory books. We edit those memory books as we had to. For instance when my son was young he was in a NICU unit. My son hates to see himself sick and weak. It brings back fears for him so he destroys memory books with bad memories. I just concluded it was easier not to include unhappy memories in his memory books which he would just destroy anyways.

As part of Thanksgiving we watch the Macy’s Day parade. Both my parents are from New York so it is a tradition with us. After watching the Macy’s Day parade my son got his memory books out of his deceased Nana and he spent hours pointing to me and wanting me to explain every last detail to him of our other Holidays and why we were on our own now. I did as he requested for about 3 hours. I did it until he was completely satisfied and then he took a long nap. And I am letting him sleep as much as he wants through this because I recognize he has the Holiday blues a bit. This will be the worst Holidays on him and I prefer to have him go through it bad this year so he can recover.

But I do give him chocolates and I am indulging him through this Holiday season so he has a perceived locus of control and he feels secure.

Exercise, chocolate and sleep are great cures for depression.

Holiday Blues Maybe Winter Blues

Other Interventions

I have lowered his and my expectations fro the Holidays this season. We probably will not have a tree. I lost all the decorations when my Mother died as there was the great scavenger hunt immediately after her death. I lost Christmas ornaments that were Baby’s first Christmas and other Holiday ornaments. Quite frankly I bought them all and yet the scavengers can to claim them as theirs. So we will not have a tree nor ornaments nor presents but each other. And if my son wants to sleep through this Holiday he can. Because next year his wounds will not be so fresh.

And to be entirely honest I wasn’t about to act undignified or uncivilized over material possessions when my Mother died. If there was one last thing I would give my Mother it was I was going to act decent after her death. No one else did. But that is there problem not mine. I know I did the right thing by acting civilized. And because I did I doubt my recovery will take me nearly as long.

I also had my son to think about at the time who was really grieving. He was also going through several extinction burst right after my Mother passed as well that I had to extinguish before he would be declared a danger to himself or others. My son was also sick and I had to care for him so I just let the scavengers come and take all they desired. My fight was to keep my son alive and to get him through his grief. Admittedly I had lost a lot of friends doing end stage cancer care for two years. I wasn’t much fun to hang out with and I wouldn’t hang out as I was tending to my Mother’s needs. The others had support systems as they had not handled the care and had run to everyone who would listen to them whine about my Mother’s cancer. I wouldn’t whine as I believed family affairs are private. But now that it is only myself and my son I don’t have to keep my Mother’s secrets. Actually I will take many things to my grave as that is just the way we are built. We know how to keep secrets. Actually the burden of the secrets and loyalty was probably what made me so social dysfunctional in this situation. But it is true I can keep a secret without ever letting anyone ever know.

So Relax and Enjoy Your Family!

A Theory On Conquering the Holiday Blues

Personally I have noticed everyone seems to go insane during the holidays much like when they fall in love. But what I have observed is that how the Holidays are perception is not based on material wealth or gifts or even the number of family members in attendance. I believe the holiday blues but are caused by setting unrealistic expectations for the Holidays, forcing yourself to try and meet them and then in absence of meeting goals or completion the Holiday blues arise.

So whether you are grieving this year or just simply want to dodge the holiday blues try to keep it simple. Be very practical with your time and your expectations and limit the probability of holiday blues.


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    • JT Walters profile image

      JT Walters 6 years ago from Florida

      Thanks Debbie,

      It is really hard going through Christmas this year as you already understand. We have never had a Christmas without my Mother. It is not the presents or the tree but my Mom which is missing. And Mom basically died infront of the tree last year so we are relivig those last moments again.

      I am so sorry for your husband. Please express our condlescences to you, your husband and your entire family. Holiday deaths are the worst.

      Thanks for reaidng and thinking of us. It does mean a great deal. And we will be thinking of you as well.


    • debbie roberts profile image

      Debbie Roberts 6 years ago from Greece

      Hi JT,

      I hope you and your son get through the festive period knowing that there are people who will be thinking of you. It is a bitter sweet time of year and a time to teach our children that not every one is fortunate enough to have family, shelter or even food just because it is Christmas.

      My husband has just got back from South Africa after laying his Father to rest, he is quietly grieving. I can see it and feel it. Th only thing we can do is be there for him and let him grieve.

      Hopefully in 2012 you will be able to focus more on your son and yourself and let go of the bad memories of the non supportive people you have around you - for your own sake. Try to focus on the good memories you have of your Mum, first and foremost.

    • JT Walters profile image

      JT Walters 6 years ago from Florida

      Mary 615,

      That is what I m doing as well trying to carry on for my son. But I am scaling back my expectations of myself to avoid the Holiday Blues this year or to atleast minimize it. It is very painful having to paint the mask of joy onto your face and say "Happy this or Happy that..." But I do it to be polite and not to weigh my burdens on others but in writing this article I realized I wasn't the only person painting the happy face on and many of us go through the holidays pretending to be happy for everyone else. We completely suck up our pain.

      Brava you continue and I feel for your family because when you are not there to do for them who will?


    • JT Walters profile image

      JT Walters 6 years ago from Florida

      Hi Dexter,

      I am so glad you beautiful heart is mending. It always takes time. Thank youf or your kind words of understanding. I appreciate them so greatly. I know i will make it thorugh with friends like you.


    • mary615 profile image

      Mary Hyatt 6 years ago from Florida

      Sometimes I'd just like to skip Christmas altogether, but I have family that depend on me to carry on our traditions, and I do that. But I have a heavy heart during the holiday season: I just choose to hide it. Good Hub, thanks for sharing this.

    • Dexter Yarbrough profile image

      Dexter Yarbrough 6 years ago from United States

      Hi JT! I am sorry for the losses you have suffered this year. I have been there. I go through the holiday blues often and am just now coming off an episode.

      Thanks for sharing your experiences.

    • JT Walters profile image

      JT Walters 6 years ago from Florida

      Hello Shea,

      Thank you for your understanding. Somehow some way I believe I am were I am suppose to be right now. And I agree with you that I need to accept this grief and allow my son to grieve in order for both of us to heal. There is so little written on Autism and grieving that I have actually written an article on it myself. It is a subject one could do a dissrtation on.

      I to taught at two Universities and I like the way you think. Thnk you for your kindness and generosity. IF I hear the universe/God et al. saying anything it is you are not alone and there are many good people out there in thw world for you to meet.

      Thank you for your words of both compassion and encouragement.

      All My Best,


    • JT Walters profile image

      JT Walters 6 years ago from Florida


      I am glad for you and your daughter. Because time is the most precious thing we have with our families. I think it is suppose to stink the first holidays after the lose of a loved one. It will be better next year. Time does heal those wounds which do not kill us. I will never stop missing my Mom as her life was cut tragedically short. But after we get through this holiday season we will be stronger for it. We will not lingere in saddness forever. We are just taking our time recovering from something that was very painful and tragedic. It is 1-3 years on avergae getting over the loss of someone you are close to and I am not through the first year. Although since my Mother basically dropped in the middle of Christmas that will be the real challenge.

      Thanks for your kind words Peter. I have missed you on line.

      Your friend.


    • shea duane profile image

      shea duane 6 years ago from new jersey

      I'm sorry for your loss... and I know that probably nothing anyone says can really help you when you are mourning... but I lost both my parents when I was a child and have been through some difficult times in my life. What I've learned (and this was a painful but uplifting lesson) is that God gives us lessons, both painful and joyous, and these lessons help us become who we are meant to be. My son is autistic also, and his difficulties have made me a better parent. Living in foster care with families who saw me as a monthly check has made me more sensitive to children and people in need. Having been hungry and living on rice has helped me make my cooking an art form (no, not always a successful art form) that gives me great pleasure. I think grief is an important part of life; it's physical as well as emotional... we need to feel it and live it. Then we need to ask ourselves, what does God want me to learn about myself and the universe from this? One of my students always substitutes the word 'nature' for the way I use 'God' so if you are not a believer or are an athiest or agnostic, ask youself, what is the universe teaching me here and now? what can I learn? How can this lesson improve my life? I think you need a tree. Those ornaments are only important because of the memories they offer... the memories are still with you. Make ornaments with you child... buy those little wooden shapes or foam shapes and use glitter and glue and crayons. Make some especially for your Mom. String popcorn, spray paint pinecones, use gold spray paint and paint leaves and hang them. If you believe in God, this season is about God; if you don't it is about the sleep of winter with the hope and trust that spring is going to bring new life and love and beauty and baby bunnies back to our lives. Maybe, just maybe God is giving you this opportunity to take very little and create something incredible.

    • PETER LUMETTA profile image

      PETER LUMETTA 6 years ago from KENAI, ALAKSA

      JT, we all have crosses to bear and the Holidays seem to amplify personal losses more than the physical losses. The loss of a loved one comes into focus during the Holidays since to some these are the best of times. Your anchor is your son as you are his. I am sharing time with my daughter this holiday season and it has been years since I have felt this good for this time of year. Love is a thing that we count on and treasure with those in our family. Have a happy and joyous holiday, your friend


    • Lord De Cross profile image

      Joseph De Cross 6 years ago

      You too!

    • JT Walters profile image

      JT Walters 6 years ago from Florida


      I am never alone as I have my son. It has almost been a year adn I didn't even start writing about it until 6 months after it happened.

      Death is somehow more difficult with a child with Autims on board.

      And yes, even with his Holiday Blues he still wants to be president. I am always amazed by this. Hopefully he will get his augementative communication device this month.

      Thanks for all your kind words of support. This country is either going to learn to embrace the Autistic children or my son is running for president so the autistic crowd has representation.

      Have a great weekend.


    • Lord De Cross profile image

      Joseph De Cross 6 years ago

      There you go JT

      Actually I'm still struck with your rather be alone and not saying Morning!, to MR. Wrong. I go through the same situation as yours but keep it cool. Writing is a good oulet and here we are. Hope your kid gets his strenght and recovery to be useful for his country. Good thoughts and tips!