The following is part of a presentation I gave on grief. This part deals specifically with the holidays.
67 ADDENDUM: HOLIDAY BLUES
The problem with “Firsts”
We are in October, there are already Thanksgiving decorations on sale; soon there will be Christmas ones. If this is the first year after a loss these events will be difficult, just like other celebrations – birthdays etc. But these holidays are not private they are celebrated publically and everybody wants to wish you joy. Some years ago a tradition developed to hold a prayer service on the longest night of the year for those who had lost loved ones. It’s called a Blue Christmas and is described as a service of remembrance and hope. You might look for one this year.
” The Light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.” John 1:5
68 THE NEW NORMAL FOR HOLIDAYS
Let yourself off the hook – don’t try to recreate past holidays
Let go of Guilt – you’re hurting, you’re sad, give yourself a break! You don’t have to keep taking care of everyone else
Make some decisions for self-care –
- make a restaurant reservation way ahead of time
- don’t decorate the house, or do so minimally like a potted rosemary tree instead of a full Christmas tree
- Order out
- Divide the duties
If you are having people over, order a pre-cooked dinner, or turkey, and /or have everybody bring something specific on the menu, including paper
products (you don’t need to get out the silver and the china), soft
drinks, and a table decoration.
69 New Normal continued
- If you can afford it, get a maid service to come and clean
- Get away for a few days with someone who knows and cares
- Choose a new venue
- Make new memories
- Start new traditions
- If you used to go to a special church and a special restaurant then this year choose new ones
- Have a white elephant activity or some other fun activity on Christmas Day
- Get some people together to go caroling in the neighborhood or at a local nursing home or hospital
- Spend the morning feeding people at a shelter
Doing something for other people really can help us get out of our head
- DON’T show old family movies – you might be ready but everyone else might not
- DON’T try to make everything seem as if it’s all the same as it was
- DON’T ignore your feelings
- DON’T ignore your Loss – or the absence of your loved one – have a special toast or add a special prayer for the one who is not there
- DON’T drink too much – alcohol is a depressant
- Remind yourself of your good but imperfect past holidays – it wasn’t perfect before so it doesn’t have to be perfect this year
- Nurture yourself – Have a private memento or picture in your pocket that you can touch when you need to so you don’t feel you are leaving them out, so that they are “coming with you.”
- Take time outs if and when you need to for a quick weep.
- Remember that other people around you are grieving, too, and everyone grieves differently an on a different schedule – denial, avoidance, anger, bargaining, sadness, depression, acceptance – and around and around again. You can’t fix them, but you can be patient with them, whatever stage they are in.
72 Some books and Quotes
Pema Chödrön, When Things Fall Apart: Heart Advice for Difficult Times
“When we protect ourselves so we won’t feel pain, that protection becomes like armor, like armor that imprisons the softness of the heart.”
“Things falling apart is a kind of testing and also a kind of healing. We think that the point is to pass the test or to overcome the problem, but the truth is that things don’t really get solved. They come together and they fall apart. Then they come together again and fall apart again. It’s just like that. The healing comes from letting there be room for all of this to happen: room for grief, for relief, for misery, for joy.”
“We can use our personal suffering as the path to compassion for all beings.”
Dr. Elisabeth Kübler-Ross, http://www.ekrfoundation.org/quotes/
“People are like stained-glass windows. They sparkle and shine when the sun is out, but when the darkness sets in, their true beauty is revealed only if there is a light from within.”
Viktor E. Frankl, Man’s Search for Meaning
“Love goes very far beyond the physical person of the beloved. It finds its deepest meaning in his spiritual being, his inner self. Whether or not he is actually present, whether or not he is still alive at all, ceases somehow to be of importance.”
74 Resources online
77 Resources for your phone
- Daily 7 second meditations on your phone from http://www.7secondmeditation.com/
- “Insight Timer” APP for your phone – for hundreds of meditations. Some just music, some nature sounds, some guided meditations.
This is a sad song but listen ’til the end.