The holidays can be hard after a loss—illness, death of a loved one, job loss. Even so, there are ways to help make Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s manageable, meaningful and hopeful.
Holidays and grief, those two terms seem to be at odds with each other, don’t they? We feel holidays should be a joyous, relaxed time to celebrate. Grief is a time of sadness brought on by a loss. The loss can be loss of a loved one, a home, a job, a marriage. However, the truth is that grief does not take a holiday. If one is in the midst of the grief process, the holidays in November and December can seem overwhelming. Here are a few thoughts for facing grief during the holiday season:
Listen to your heart & recognize your limits- Before you get into the holiday season, take some time to think about your feelings. Share your feelings and your needs with those around you. Prioritize.
Be realistic and gentle with yourself- “No” is an OK word to use. Grieving can make it difficult to concentrate. So think about what is important to you and say “no” to everything else this year. You can say “yes” in years to come.
Traditions are important- The temptation to do nothing for the holiday results from feeling overwhelmed but keeping traditions is important. With that said, acknowledge that you may have to adapt traditions, especially if your loss is of a loved one. So buy gifts, but perhaps the gift for your departed loved one can be to a charity like an alternative gift market.
Allow tears but look for the joy! Tears are healing so when you find those unexpected wet things pouring down your cheeks- rejoice! Rejoice that every tear means your loved one brought joy, laughter, affection to your life. Write down your memories and put them in a pretty gift box- that is your loved one’s gift to you!
Focus on the spiritual side- The church offers many opportunities to rejoice. We serve a Christ who suffered-suffered loss- and he comes this year to be with you in the pain and in the joy!
Here is an excellent resource for those suffering from grief and those accompanying those who are grieving: Grief Watch
You can call Visiting Nurses of the Lower Valley 860-767-0186 for more information.