Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Surviving the Holidays While Grieving

Alright - Thanksgiving is over and hopefully it was not as difficult as you imagined. For many though, the worst of the holiday season is yet to come and yes, like it or not, December 1st is just a few days away.. That means Hanukkah, Christmas and New Years are fast approaching and we can’t stop them.. Know that no matter how hard this seems, you will get through the holidays and the more you prepare yourself and decide what you can and can’t do, the easier it will be.  Be patient with yourself and others, and there is nothing wrong with saying NO.. Cherie Houston

Surviving the Holidays While Grieving
~ By Roslyn Romeny Reynolds
The house lights are twinkling, Christmas trees glimmer out of every front window, and joyous music fills the air, but your heart seems immune to the joy. As much as you want to, you can't feel the happiness this season used to bring. All you feel is--alone. The holidays usually bring family gatherings, hours spent choosing and wrapping special gifts for loved ones, and a wonderful feeling of good will and happiness.
Yet, for one who has lost a loved one, the holidays can be one of the darkest times of the year. It can be painful to remember the special together times the holidays used to bring--and to realize that it will never be that way again.
It can be painful to see others still with their loved ones, to watch as they hold hands, or sit snuggled into each other, and to be reminded yet again that you are alone. Even the good memories can be painful. Each memory can awaken the dull ache in the chest and open the floodgates as tears flow yet again. The sweetness of the memories is in sharp contrast to the emptiness of now.
Others may try to help us by including us in their festivities, but we may not feel 'up' to joining in the celebrations. It's okay to say, "No thanks" if the thought of being at a holiday party turns your stomach. The time will come when you look forward to the chance to go out. Allow yourself to be where you are in your grieving process.
What can we do to lessen the pain, and to increase our ability to feel peace in this, the Season of Peace?

First, realize that it is normal to feel down during the holidays when you've lost a loved one. Don't berate yourself. If you're having a 'down' day, accept it as 'normal', but also admit that tomorrow holds the possibility of being a better day.

Second, reach out. Find someone you can talk to, someone who understands what you're going through, and visit. Share what helps you each get through hard times, and you'll both come away stronger. One woman suggested finding a joke, the cornier the better, to share each week. That way her spirits are lifted, and she brings a smile to the people she shares with, too.

Third, decide that this holiday season, you're going to give yourself a gift. It can be something tangible, that you wrap and put under the tree, or a new idea or habit you are going to implement that will improve your quality of life. Do one thing for yourself that will bring a smile to your face!

Fourth, determine to read uplifting literature this month. The words we read have a great effect upon us, so we are wise to fill our minds with the greatest words ever written. Of course, scripture fits the season perfectly, but in addition, there are hundreds of great books that attest to the potential and actual goodness of humanity. Read something heartwarming, and be lifted! (Of course, one to include each December is Dickens' A Christmas Carol. Better than any movie ever made of it, the book is sure to have you smiling as you read the last line!)

Lastly, find a way to lift someone else. The Christmas celebrations originated, after all, honoring the birth of One who gave His whole life for others. It could be a good deed done anonymously, or you could simply spend time with someone who is lonely or down. It's a generally accepted fact that a sure way to forget your own troubles is to help someone else to forget theirs, if only for a few minutes.

The holidays can be a painful reminder of all that is wrong in our lives. On the other hand, we can do our best to see them as a time to celebrate the Goodness that came into the world two thousand years ago--and to spread some of that goodness through our own life and to all those we come in contact with.

Roslyn Romney Reynolds wrote SOLO - Getting It All Together When You Find Yourself Alone after her husband drowned while on an outing with their three youngest children. She has since interviewed women from many parts of the country who've endured loss and gleaned seven essentials to help move through the grieving process and on to hope and healing after tragic loss.

Her book is available at http://www.roslynreynolds.com/.
Her blog is found at http://www.sistersinhope.com/.

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