Grief and Christmas
Whether it’s your first Christmas or your 5th without a loved one, the holidays will never be the same. Here are some tips for getting you through the tough days ahead.
You’ll find yourself procrastinating, not wanting to join in the merriment. Perhaps this means that you leave the decorations in the closet, the tree is a last minute job, or you skip it altogether. You find yourself completely exhausted and find no time to bake, shop, or plan get togethers. It’s just not in the cards! Whatever you feel, it’s ok and it’s normal. Grieve your grief your way.
Here’s some coping strategies to help you this year:
Simplify! Allow yourself to have a simple Christmas. Christmas will be different from now on. So, If that means enjoying your family and Kraft dinner (perhaps a loved one’s fave??), then that’s good! Count your blessings not your decorations and dirty dishes! And give yourself permission to start new traditions.
Very few people need crowds to replenish their energy. Most of us need to recharge and heal with peace and quiet. Don’t be afraid to give yourself the time to do so. People who really care will understand. Simply say, “Thank you for the invite, but I’m taking some time for me right now. “. In other words, place your “visitor restrictions” in place, just as if you were recovering in the hospital. Once the holidays are over, return to your regular schedule as soon as possible.
As the holiday comes closer, you will naturally focus on the loss. Some may feel the physical ache in the heart or the heavy feeling in the head, almost like a constant headache. Breathing may even hurt. That’s normal! This is the physical aspect of grief. You will think about the loss every waking moment. So bring them alive! Celebrate them! Do one thing a day that they would do. Talk to them either out loud or silently with your thoughts. Ask them, what do you want me to do to celebrate your life today? Maybe going for a walk, read the paper, call a friend to check up on them…whatever it is, do it for them.
Carry a piece of them with you as you go about your day. Wear a piece of their jewelry. Carry their favorite saying on a piece of paper. Wear something of theirs. This can bring so much comfort and peace to you.
Plan on a more long term memorial like a tattoo with their handwriting, making something from their clothes, or taking a piece of jewelry to a jeweler to make something special for the children. Many jewelers have specialty ideas for just such a memory piece. The sky’s the limit and your loved one will surely be placing ideas in your thoughts!
And lastly, don’t forget to celebrate your living family members. Include the living and the dead in your holiday. After all, the dead tell me all the time that they are more alive than we are most of the time! And don’t forget to watch for those heavenly signs, because at holidays they are plentiful!