Grieving through the Holidays

If you’re grieving the loss of a loved one, the holidays may likely be a very difficult time for you. I know they were (and still can be) for me. Even if you’re not actively grieving, reflecting upon cherished memories and traditions related to the holidays may trigger your grief to rise to the forefront. How could it not, when we are faced with endless reminders that our loved one is not with us physically during these times where our families and friends gather to celebrate. 

David Kessler says that “Holidays mark the passage of time in our lives. They are part of the milestones we share with each other and they generally represent time spent with family. This is exactly why the holidays are difficult to cope with when we are grieving. We miss our loved ones more than ever during this time. Holidays and family gatherings without our loved ones present magnify our loss. The sadness deepens and the loneliness can feel isolating.”

For most of us grieving the death of a loved one, the grieving process is a time when we try to understand and re-evaluate ourselves and the world in light of the loss we experienced, as we learn how to continue living without our loved one in physical. 

I’d like to offer something for your consideration this holiday season. When we love someone who is still in physical body, we love them for their spirit, their personality, their soul essence that defines who they are. Perhaps we admired or loved their physical attributes as well, but that is not generally the driving force behind our love. When we grieve the loss of this loved one after their death, we are primarily grieving the loss of their physical body. But what we loved most about them – their spirit, their personality, their soul – still exists! Those things did not die. So we have the opportunity to still commune with them, to still have a relationship with them, to still be present with them. Reach for that, my friends. Reach for that. Embrace the truth that their soul and their spirit lives on, their personality is alive within the light that they are. They are not completely gone to us.

As you gather around your holiday gatherings, dinners and parties this year, it is possible to step away from the pain of grief and embrace love instead. Remember the love you shared with this person and allow their love to return to you tenfold. They will be by your side, answer their call and invite them in. 

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Here are some ideas that I have put together for you that may help you:

  1. Set Boundaries – OK to say no!
  2. Plan ahead – have a plan B and a plan C.
  3. Have an exit plan.
  4. Cancel the holiday altogether if you wish!
  5. Say their name – Tom Zuba taught me to set a place at the Thanksgiving and Christmas table for Bryan. We did this for many years. In addition, I trained my family to say my son’s name, and I reminded them year after year that Bryan is still a part of our family. One way to do this is with a roundtable gratitude offering.
  6. Acknowledge your loved one in other ways – create a shrine or light a candle.
  7. Acknowledge your feelings – feel them if they come up, but know that you can set them aside if you wish. You can always pick them up again whenever you want to.
  8. Honor old traditions and memories that bring you happiness, a smile, a laugh.
  9. OR create new ones.
  10. Volunteer for those less fortunate than you.
  11. Ask for help. Seek out a friend, grief coach, or caring listener.
  12. Be with children, if possible.
  13. Offer yourself some grace – be kind to yourself.
  14. Show compassion to others who are grieving.
  15. Journaling your feelings.
  16. Fill your child’s stocking with Hershey kisses or hugs – you and your family can help yourself to one every time you are missing your child 

Coping skills:

  1. Meditation
  2. Deep breathing
  3. Taking a walk
  4. Journaling
  5. Yoga/Exercise – move your body in some way to release the grief that is stored in your muscles.
  6. Sleep
  7. Good nourishment
  8. Energy Healing

From my friend Lynn Walker and her daughter, Charlotte:

Ultimately who we are is all that there is

All that there is, is based in love.

All that we are is all that is.

And all that there is, is love.

Stay in love my friends!

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