“I can’t face the holidays!” is something I begin to hear from bereaved people as the holiday season approaches. During the coming weeks the music and decorations will be a painful reminder of Christmas without your loved one.
Every year the holiday season seduces us into trying to produce the pure holiday bliss we felt as children. Before you know it your calendar is over booked and you are stressed beyond any hope.
Stop, take a deep breath and make a list of all those things on your calendar. Now, cross off the ones that mean the least to you. Take your updated list and focus on the one or two holiday rituals that matter the most to you and give yourself the time to savor them.
Think about building some new traditions. Remember that it’s okay not to do what you traditionally do. Planning something totally different is not an insult to the memory of a loved one and can actually be a positive way to take off some pressure.
Remember what the holiday season means to you. Make that your priority and remember that this season is really about sharing, loving and spending time with family and friends. It’s a time to honor the birth of Jesus and to bring some peace into your life.
Try to have some fun and do some silly things, go to movies that make you laugh, play with kids and most of all relax with those you care about.
Use this time of the year to regain perspective, watching children enjoying life to the fullest helps remind us of the simple things that can bring us joy.
Holidays can arouse grief as well as joy. The season will be much more fulfilling if you can find a place for both your grief and the joy of the season.
Life goes on they say, but how can it, how dare it without our loved one?
Are love and grief forever linked? Life is full of wonder and sadness, pleasure and pain, birth and death, darkness and lightness. We laugh at weddings and weep at funerals. In the end there is a time to dance and a time to cry. Unfortunately our culture values fun and has little time for grieving.
Sadly we are better at taking drugs for our pain than facing death and grief. Better at wearing our “mask” than giving an honest answer to the question, “How are you really doing?”
Though it’s easier to talk about almost anything than the dead, the dead are what mourners most need to talk about – especially jurying this festive season. Therefore please do not shy away from sharing your memories.
Don’t try to get through the holidays by behaving as if nothing has happened. Instead acknowledge the loss, the grief and the missing space at the table. If somebody is not at the table who was there last year, it is a wonderful time for everyone to take a moment to talk about their memories and recall what they miss and what they loved about that person.
Everyone is already thinking about that person so it’s better to just speak our feelings out loud.
Pretending that everything is fine when everything isn’t just adds to the stress everyone is feeling. The only way to survive the holiday season after the death of a loved one is to make time for memories. Say their names out loud, tell and retell the same old stories, tales of love, laughter, what was most memorable and what we miss the most.
Stories are the fabric that weaves our families together. Storytelling can be done naturally when sitting around the table or relaxing by the fire. Or it can be more formal by each family member writing out a story about the person they had lost and then creating a memory book. Life does go on but let’s take a portion of the past with us, hold onto it so we can pass it on.
Sometimes we cry, sometimes we laugh – both are gifts of healing.