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The Power of 'AND' in Holiday Emotions: Navigating Joy and Grief

Updated: Nov 27, 2023

It is December 2021. We have made it through 11 months, onto the last one of the year. The cliche statement of “time really does fly” seems to get more true as we get older. Especially during the holiday months, days can seem to pass by faster as there are countdowns to different holidays, events, and the New Year right around the corner. For most, this is such an exciting time of the year, the possibility of parties, community gatherings, family time, time off of work, and celebration, to name a few. For others, this could be a challenging time of the year. The beautiful thing about humanity is that we are all unique with no journey looking the same.

My journey thus far brings up a lot of heavy emotions around this time. I lost my mom unexpectedly on December 12, 2019. Two years into the biggest loss of my life, one of the most powerful lessons I have learned is the power of the word "AND."

Being able to feel happy AND sad.

Joyful AND heartbroken.

Excited AND nervous.

Loved AND lonely.

Experiencing the loss of my mom around the holidays in 2019 was numbing. I remember feeling nothing, yet all around me people were celebrating the “most wonderful time of the year!” It was so fresh at the time that I can see, now, my body was going into protection mode. In December 2020, closing in on a year since my moms passing, I had worked with my therapist around the power of AND versus BUT. I struggled with the emotions of happiness or being excited for something post December 2019. We worked a lot on holding space for dual emotions.

What this means is, as person, you, can be both excited about something and still have sadness. The holidays may be joyful time, and at the same time, you might not get to see important loved ones which can bring up sadness.

That is okay.

There is room for both.

We, humans, tend to be hard on ourselves whens it comes to “should’ing ourselves”. We may think or say to ourselves, "I should feel happy, it’s the holiday season...I shouldn’t be upset", as an example. I like to remind myself in those moments, would I say that to a friend, or a loved one of mine? If the answer is no, why do I allow my self-talk to speak to me in such a manner?

White candle decorated with a pinecone, cinnamon, and pine tree clipping with blurred warm lights in the background

A better way to hold space for such complexity of emotions is to first become aware of what you are personally experiencing. I do this by taking time to journal, meditate, or take a solo walk in

nature. These are activities that help me create space to understand myself more and what I am currently experiencing. Once you can name what you are feeling, the next step is to recognize, you are NOT the feeling, you HAVE the feeling. You may feel happy and sad, you are not happy and sad. This distinction is critical in order to separate identity with a certain emotion. You see, emotions fluctuate, they go up, down, and all around. If one clings to an emotion as an identity you may be able to see how that could send someone on a rollercoaster ride of emotions through life.

This holiday season I encourage you to take time to acknowledge your current situation and whatever emotions may come up. With this information forefront, see where you can implement the power of "AND" to your situation. Notice how that shifts your perspective, if at all. Be kind to yourself in the process. I hope that, for whatever season of life you are facing, you have unconditional love and support wherever you may need it.

“Fully grieve your losses, and also, let yourself feel the full weight of your joys.”

-Morgan Harper Nichols

At IVY Integrative, you can work with one practitioner or build your own team of holistic practitioners! Reach your optimum health in-person or online. Check out our Get Started page to learn how to work with us!

Have a happy healthy holiday friends,


This information is generalized and intended for educational purposes only. Due to potential individual contraindications, please see your primary care provider before implementing any strategies in these posts.



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