Here is some great insight into doing well over the Holidays from Nick Harper. Nick is a small group and online leader for ManAlive and an AWESOME man.
Some of the best homework I was ever given came during the holidays of 2012. This was when my group leader had me look up the Tiger Feeling Wheel. It became my favorite homework of all time because it gave me words to describe what was going on inside me. I realized then that I was feeling mostly lonely, sad, and hurt. I missed home, I missed my family, I missed that connection, and the way it made me feel. What I didn’t realize at first was that those feelings were coming from grief. It wasn’t on the wheel so I wrote it in, then asked the Holy Spirit what grieving looked like. For me grieving looked like crying, getting out the pain I felt from being away from the people I loved.
This time of year, like clock work, I usually start to hear my guys telling me they feel lonely. They say, “I don’t get it, I feel lonely even when I am with my buddies and roommates.” Then they confess to messing up a little, and wonder why it’s happening. What’s happening is they miss their families and that familiarity. This is where I remind them that for most of us Redding isn’t where we grew up. We came from our home states to learn and grow in who God is calling us to be. We do the best we can to live in community and to have fulfilling relationships but it doesn’t always feel the same. For those of us who are not able to be around family for the holidays it can feel like grieving. We feel like we are missing out on something. We feel the loss of not being able to connect in the way our hearts long too.
Grief is a legitimate feeling of loss. It doesn’t have to mean the death of a loved one. It is a form of mourning for something that isn’t there. Grief is different from being lonely and needs a different response. I didn’t learn what grief was or how to work through it until attending group. For me grieving is crying, feeling the hurt.
If you are feeling the loss of family right now, it’s ok to grieve. Let your friends and group know so they can empathize on how it feels not being around loved ones. Cry, just let it all out. Feel the pain, validate the pain, and cry some more