I see you preparing for the holidays with your head down.

Your heart broken. Your tears frozen.

Your body in agony.

The holidays can have this effect.

There is no holiday cheer for the bereaved, the lonely and the broken hearted.

As a matter of fact, the holidays make death, divorce and all the losses much worse.

I remember how it was every time I heard the carolers.

I saw the perfect families with their shopping bags hanging out in the decorated streets and I wanted to scream.

I was invisible.

I was alone.

And I know millions of people around the world feel this way this week.

What I am about to ask of you next might come as a surprise.

You must start from that place of invisibility.

You must start from the bitterness and the loneliness.

You need to take the first step from that lonely and painful place, as this is where a second chance can take place, in the most difficult moment.

Some of the things I will suggest might be the complete opposite to what you have been told to do. But this list just might change your life this holiday season:

  1. Make this the most untraditional holiday you have ever had. If you normally celebrate Christmas with the tree, the big dinner and the works, try something completely different this year. Go to the beach instead or stay in bed all day if you need to. Choose your way for the holidays and don’t feel guilty. This is YOUR life. (Click to Tweet!)
  2. Speak the truth every day this week. Holding it in because it’s the holidays will not help you make space for what the future is waiting to gift you. Let it out. Scream it if you have to. It is your voice.
  3. Make a wish during the holidays, but don’t stop there! Take one small action to make that wish come true. Don’t wait for the New Year. That is when you will start seeing the impossible become possible. Time does not heal all wounds, action does.
  4. Change something inside your house instead of holiday decorations. It can be as big as painting the walls or as small as moving the couch to face the other way. Shift something.
  5. If you get invited to dinner and you don’t feel like going, say NO thank you and go and do whatever you want. This will make you feel more in control.
  6. Give something of yourself every day, even if you are the one who needs it the most. Give. Give. Give. You want to stay in and watch movies…give that to yourself. It starts from the smallest and simplest things.
  7. Say, “I love you,” when you look at yourself in the mirror every morning and smile, even if you do not feel like it. This can be the hardest thing on the list, but it is the most important. I even find it hard to do this one.
  8. Stop buying gifts for people you don’t care about. As a matter of fact, if you don’t feel like buying gifts don’t buy them. Don’t be trapped in that fake, polite space after loss. You don’t need this pressure. Free yourself from the gift expectations and send an email to the people in your life telling them you are going to do the holidays differently this year.
  9. Remember, it is just 10 days of craziness and you have survived much worse, you can do this.
  10. Buy something for yourself that is very unlike you. Building your new identity can start as a holiday gift to yourself.

Above all find a moment to say a prayer for yourself.

And in that prayer ask for what you need not just for the holidays but for every day after that.

Be yourself next week. Even if it means people won’t like that you did not show up to dinner with a perfect gift and a smile on your face.

I am walking with you during the holidays and beyond.


Share this post


Christina Rasmussen is an author, speaker and social entrepreneur who believes that grief is an evolutionary experience required for launching a life of adventure and creative accomplishment.

Inspiration to your inbox every Friday

Subscribe to the Life Changing Second Firsts Letters


  • Teresa Draper says:

    Second first Christmas in my own home. The tiny shotgun two bedroom townhome that I was able to get into with my disability back pay and a 15 year mortgage. Rudy and I have been gifting beautiful large linens that we can no longer use, huge cooking pots, duplicate frying pans and utensils and clothes that no longer fit since unpacking the storage unit this summer. Now I am refitting gorgeous romantic statuary, candles, etc as well as Christmas decor that I have no room for. Some of these will be Christmas gifts for my competitively, materialistic gifting family. Sisters, brothers in law nephews and nieces will receive beautiful treasures that I can’t bear to look at or baked breads with jam. I even gifted the matching apron given to my husband and me on our last Christmas together to a friend that I cook and share meals with who complained of needing an apron. Good riddance to useful, precious and loved items from my first life. I read this essay while living in the in between place, dirt broke and emotionally shattered. I remember last Christmas, the only thing that I managed to accomplish from your Holiday suggestions was the “I love you,” affirmation into the mirror that I had primped in for high school proms, dates and Seventeen magazine grooming tips. What I want to say here and want my fellow Second First friends to know is that There is a life outside of the in-between worlds limbo even if you are unable to imagine it now. I hope with all my heart that your path will be reassuring and your baby steps lead you back in the way that they have brought me through another your of mourning my lost past first life. I am not there yet, but I am confident that the Christmas gifts that I am pulling from boxes and drawers and the oven will be given with love and appreciation to the family and friends that remained during the in between years and the new Second Life family friends that are unique to my new life. Love abounds this season. From me, in me, to me and for the first time since 2010, I am home looking at a tree that I decorated myself with the ornaments that I selected. It feels like a holiday victory. Merry Christmas and all the best to toy in 2016! With much love, Teresa

Leave a Reply