“There are no quick fixes to grief. No easy answers. Every expression of grief that wants to be felt and honored and given its space, must be allowed in order to heal.” ~ Tom Zuba
It’s the beginning of December and another Holiday season is here. Holidays under the best of circumstances evoke emotions of all kinds.
Today is a reminder to focus on and do what feels best to you. If you or anyone you know is experiencing loss or going through a dramatic change, there may be feelings of ambivalence in celebrating the holidays.
It will always be true we do not get over grief, but I can share with you, grief is abated and does subside when we choose to honor and seek ways to be happy, even if it is only a moment at a time.
Below are some suggestions I hope will help you and/or someone else get through a difficult time this holiday season:
- Plan ahead. Think about what you want to do and don’t want to do. You are the best judge of what is right.
- Don’t forget self-care. Give yourself permission to relax and rest. Go slow and do what you can when you can.
- Tell others what you need. If you need to take a break from your usual celebrations this year. That’s okay. You can always come back to these traditions next year.
- Let others help you stay in touch with yourself. In the first waves of grief and change it is a coping strategy to say “I’m OK when asked by others how we are. This is an automatic pilot response and allows us to function. Over time, “I’m OK” gets worn out if we continue to answer this way when we are feeling otherwise. If how you are really feeling is “a little shaky at times, or I miss so and so”, be honest. Those who care about you will appreciate the truth. You will be expressing your grief in a healthy way by being honest and letting others know your true feelings.
- It’s okay to cry and feel sad. Your feelings, whatever they may be demonstrate the depth of your love.
- It’s also okay to smile, laugh and enjoy the moment. This is not disrespectful nor is it a sign that you have forgotten. Life is meant to be lived and you honor someone you have lost by living the best life you can.
- Trust your instincts. Everyone’s grief is unique. You know what you need. It’s okay to change your mind again and again during any celebration. You don’t know what feelings may come up and when. If you stay in the moment, that’s great; if not, it’s okay to leave and try again another time.
- Keep a journal. Any type of change brings up intense feelings. Writing offers you a safe and private place to express those feelings.
- Start new traditions. Say a special prayer or blessing before the holiday meal; light a candle in honor of a loved one; create a memory book filled with photos and special mementos. Set aside time for story-telling to remember your loved one or what used to be. Invite others to share their stories.
- Remember Kindness. For yourself first and, of course, for others. Grief, loss and change happens to all of us. Don’t hold yourself to a standard you wouldn’t hold someone else to. Everyone is battling something.
Do what feels best to you. No apologies necessary. Grief from loss or any dramatic life change is hard. Everyone has a unique way of processing their emotions. Time will heal all wounds, if and only if you are doing something with that time. Time by itself, gripped in grief, despair, sadness, etc. will not heal you. At some point, when you are ready, small baby steps done over and over will help you to come back to life and move through your pain.
Do what feels best to you. If nothing else, I hope if you are feeling any ambivalence about celebrating the Holidays, you will be honest and honor how you feel. We all resist change. Change is not always bad and as wonderful as tradition is “new traditions” can be just as special.
Do what feels best to you.