• How to make it through this holiday season

    Colleen Lindholm | November 25, 2015

    How can this holiday be the “Most Wonderful Time of the Year” . . . when loved ones, once here, will be missing? It may be the first Christmas without a spouse or child or sibling or close friend. 

    The roller coaster: joy and sadness are human emotions. If you feel like crying, cry. Give yourself permission to laugh and have fun; forcing yourself to be joyful, so others will feel comfortable, creates tension. There is no shame in tears or lack of tears. Holding it back, just to survive the holidays, hinders rather than helps the healing journey.

    You don’t need to do it all: create some time and space during this busy season to decide the activities in which you want to be involved. Remember, what you change up this year does not mean this is how it will always be. 

    Grief is exhausting: be honest as to your energy level when others expect everything to be the same as last year. Drink water, breathe deeply, eat healthy food, go for walks or take a nap. Maybe this is the year you feast at a restaurant.

    Make a new tradition: Light a candle in memory of the person or persons you have lost. Set his  usual spot at the table to honour their place in your life. Hang a new ornament to represent what she loved about the holiday. Buy a gift and donate it in his memory. 

    Use the name of your loved one: Others around you may be afraid to mention your loss because they are afraid to upset you. It is as if they think you have forgotten the bereavement and by bringing it up you will be reminded. Set the stage so that they know it is okay to talk about her; you may hear some delightful stories and together celebrate his life. 

    Part of your healing process involves mourning. This outward expression of grief, especially surrounded by people who love you and feel the same loss, may be uncomfortable and strange. Any type of loss affects what we once considered “normal”. 

    Keep in mind you are in a process of reconciling a loss into your life. Feeling overwhelmed may keep you isolated to avoid interacting with others. Or this massive burden is just too big to carry and then it becomes buried or ignored and you try to ‘get over it’.

    Not everyone will be able to walk alongside you in this wilderness and allow you to do what you need to do. Find someone who can listen without judging, give you hope without the usual cliches, and remind you often that it is okay to feel what you are feeling. You may have to go beyond your circle of friends and family and find a counsellor to talk with.

    In the midst of pain, there is hope. You may feel this way for a long time but you won’t feel it all the time.

    Written by Donna Lynne Erickson

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