Monday, November 21, 2011

Reclaiming Our Joy

~ Linda L. Flatt ~ November 1998

A Basic Plan for Surviving the Holidays After The Loss Of A Loved One

Shortly after my son's suicide in 1993, a wise counselor told me not to let that death take away my joy. At the time, those words fell on deaf ears. But, as the days passed and healing began, his guidance became my mission - to somehow reclaim my joy after experiencing the incomprehensible suicide death of my child.
The powerful and overwhelming emotions that embody the grieving process tend to be magnified during the holidays - a time when memories of our missing loved ones are especially painful. Family gatherings are wearying reminders of the stark reality of our loss. Here are some steps that we can take together to endeavor to recover our God-given joy during a difficult holiday season.

Decide to Prepare: Plan ahead for the pitfalls of holiday bereavement. Educate yourself in the fine art of surviving the holidays and equip yourself for the season. Beware of the expectations of others and choose to get through the holidays YOUR WAY!

Determine to Feel: Give yourself permission to grieve during the holidays instead of "stuffing" or denying your emotions. Resist the urge to "shut down" emotionally until next year. Trust me, the feelings will still be on that shelf on January 1st, and they will, more than likely, be even more powerful and destructive than they were in December.

Commit to Connect: Choose to be around safe, supportive people during the holidays - people who will let you have your grief. Try to stay connected to God at a time when you may want to run in the other directions and isolate yourself to ease your pain. We serve a loving, comforting God and there is great healing in His community and those who love and care about us. Reach out and take the light and love that others offer during the holidays - and, in turn, give whatever you can to those who reach out to you.

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