To many of us, December is a month of celebration. We embrace the holiday season, celebrate the past year, and look forward to the next one. Memories, both happy and sad, come bursting to the forefront. And sometimes, when faced with loss in December, it can be even more difficult to deal with.

This month, the world is mourning a great loss, with the passing of Nelson Mandela. His life, his illness, and now his death, have been covered by media outlets across the globe because people everywhere have cared so deeply for this remarkable, inspirational man.

I hear so much during this time about recognizing his achievements, celebrating his life, and sustaining his message. For me, that message is hope. It’s just a word – but think how he brought it to life with his strength!

Of course, as well as honouring the man, we must mourn. The global grief is probably unprecedented and deep sorrow may visit you. Old losses may come to the surface or you might be facing a loss of this kind for the first time.

Human connections

It’s a funny thing, how we can feel so connected to someone we don’t know personally. We have, as a society, just relived the Kennedy assassination, and now we say goodbye to Mandela. We look up to the great leaders of our time and are affected by their deaths. It’s only human to feel those connections and mourn those losses. Some will feel the sadness as intensely as if they lost a friend. For others, it will remind them of more personal losses. We will also grieve for those who knew and loved Mandela – he was, after all, a husband, father, grandfather, and friend.

Lean into the pain

If you are feeling the pain of loss this holiday season, I want you to lean into it. It can’t be outrun. There’s no going over it, under it, or around it.

Don’t let yourself get stuck in any one moment. Keep moving through it. It’s a process, and it’s work. It’s ok to do this is small doses.

Feeling your loss doesn’t have to be torture for you. Do as we do with Mandela – honour his life. Smile. Be thankful for the gifts your loved one gave you – maybe even gave the world.

All my best to you.