Surviving The Holidays While Grieving
Let me first start this off by saying this will be the first holiday season in years that I have had to deal with a significant amount of grief.
Secondly please know that I am not a licensed professional and the piece you are about to read are my personal thoughts and suggestions.
According to Webster’s dictionary grief is defined by “deep and poignant distress caused by or as if by bereavement.” “A cause of such suffering” but for me grief is defined by this overwhelming wave that often leaves me feeling like I can not breathe and that the grief itself will be the thing that takes me out.
I have learned throughout this journey that grief is truly a journey all by itself, there is no manual, estimated timeframe for recovery or a roadmap. Grief is YOUR journey, YOUR road to healing, YOUR way of processing. Grief comes in stages and phases and we will all get to a place of acceptance one way or the other.
I know that holidays can be a joyous time but for some it can also be a reminder of the loved ones who are not present at the dinner table this year or the loved ones whose laughter you may never hear again. So, with that being said I want to give you a few tips to help navigate those waves of grief, sadness and fear.
Tip #1: Acknowledge your feelings
For me I found that taking a moment to be present in my feelings during times of grief has been very beneficial. I am wired a bit differently than other people and my moments of grief tend to creep up after I have completed my “to do list” or went about my daily routine. In other words I am great at putting on a show for the public (masking my true feelings or sadness) and carrying on as if I’m okay. In reality it can be very damaging to not only you but in your grief process. When you take the time to acknowledge your feelings you are being TRUE to yourself, you are essentially almost reprogramming your brain and body and giving yourself permission to release, breathe and refocus. (Again this is my personal feeling)
Tip #2: Remove yourself if needed
If you feel the waves of grief taking over its okay to take a minute for yourself, I have taken plenty of moments to excuse myself from conversations, rooms or moments of sadness to refocus. Again this ties into tip number one, give yourself permission to feel everything you need to in that moment. Gathering with family and friends after a tragedy for some can bring back so many memories that you aren’t prepared to deal with and if you are anything like me showing pain, crying (like ugly crying, the type that gives you an instant headache) is not a moment you feel like sharing with a bunch of people but that doesn’t mean that you are exempt from those feelings. EMBRACE IT and know that the people around you will understand and you will feel better.
Tip #3: Remember the good times
If you can take that a few minutes of your day and discuss the good times, laughter or memories with someone you trust. I found that remembering their smiles, their laughs, the smell of their perfume or cologne (yes! I can recall some very vivid memories!) is very therapeutic for me. Oftentimes, you may not even be able to say their names or think of them for too long without feeling the waves of grief and know that its okay. You will be okay!
Tip #4: Say No!
If a family or friend gathering during a holiday season seems like something you can’t do just yet then just say no! I am learning that it is okay to protect your mental and emotional space and sometimes removal is necessary.
Like I stated before everyone’s grief journey is different and everyone copes in their own way. It’s our job to not only support those who are hurting but to also be respectful of their wishes and desires.
My Prayer for You:
I am praying that God gives you strength to endure and peace to know that he knows whats best. I am asking that God gives you a second wind and that once this season is over you can look back and see the strength you had/have. Know that God is right there with you, holding your hand and covering you every step of the way. I am asking that he surrounds you with a great group of supportive, caring and loving people who are not only willing to help but willing to carry you if needed.
Know that you are loved and you are not alone. YOU GOT THIS!!!