Holiday Grief Guide
November 22, 2011
As we plan to celebrate Thanksgiving and all we’re grateful for this year, I am thinking and especially praying for a few friends who have buried parents within the past year…and will set one less place setting this holiday. For some who are in the difficult position of a fresh loss, holidays can be really tough.
Now that I’m preparing to spend the 6th holiday season without my mom, I’m taking a few moments to reflect on how I’ve managed to get through these holidays, especially since my mother was the glue that brought my family together…maybe through her personality and just maybe through the gumbo, pralines, dressing and other treats she was known to make during the holidays.
If you have some things to share, I’m sure those experiencing their first season without a loved one would appreciate reading them; even though they (and us) will still experience the sorrow and absence of our precious ones, knowing that we are not alone can help…and something we share just might help them get through this holiday season a little more smoothly.
1. Accept that things have changed. Your family dinner and traditions will be different.
2. Try not to isolate yourself. I remember thinking I needed to fellowship with my family members and loved ones who were still alive. They too loved mama and could provide support by just being together. Those relationships also needed nurturing.
3. Create a new tradition that honors the person…it can be big or small. I purchased poinsettias for my home and office because my mom just loved those plants during the holiday season.
4. Give yourself extra time and space to grieve. While isolation isn’t the answer, overbooking your calendar isn’t either. You need the time to have a crying spell (or however you might express your grief)…and then time to pull yourself together. I get a headache when I cry and often tried to stop myself from crying. Once I realized this wasn’t working, I allowed myself to cry….and to take a nap afterward. So, my schedule needed to be more flexible to accommodate my crying spurts.
5. Share the stories. What did your love one do that was funny, crazy, memorable? I find talking about mom with my family helps so much; they know her good stories and often don’t need background info. One word can make us all laugh.
6. And for those dealing with extra family drama, recognize your role in your family’s dynamics and think beforehand how you will act. You can’t control how others will act (and sometimes folks are just acting out because they are grieving or regretting some things), but you can control how you will react. Have a game plan before you need it.
7. Remember, your loved one wouldn’t want your life to stop because he/she is not here. Regardless of how you feel right now, you still have much to celebrate.
What would you add to this list?