“Home” for the Holidays

The Holiday season is upon us, and that holds so many emotions for all of us. For children, it is a time of wonder and excitement. For the adults, it can be that too, yet too often it brings other less happy emotions to our being.

Last December I wrote about those who bring drama wherever they go, and create chaos. If you have anyone in your holiday plans with issues like this, I invite you to go to the Archives and read the article from December entitled “Holiday Hassles, or Drama for Dessert Anyone?”. It will help you understand why they do this, and give some ideas on how to cope with them.

This year, I would like to focus on another emotional roller coaster for so many at this time of year~ the holidays after the loss of a loved one. The first year after we lose someone we love is the most difficult year of our lives. The grieving process is different for everyone, and yet we all go through similar feelings and thoughts. There is the gut wrenching rawness that accompanies everything we do for a time after our loss. As that dims, there are those moments when something happens, and we reach for the phone to call or text to tell them about it, and it hits us that we no longer can.

And then there are the nights.

Ah, those long evenings and nights without them to share life with. The emptiness can be overwhelming. There can be such deep sorrow that it almost feels like a physical pain. Time helps to dull this deep, sharp pain, but time can seem to march so slowly when it comes to our healing. The remarkable thing is that it also seems to move quickly when we notice how many days and months keep passing by on the calendar.

What can we do?

Be gentle with yourself. Treat yourself with tender loving care. The amount of stress that comes into your life from the loss of a loved one is enormous. Stress can lead to illness, and you don’t need that. Cut yourself some slack. One of the first things to happen to us when we are under a lot of stress is short term memory loss. You might find yourself forgetting things, small things, and this makes you wonder what is happening to you. This can be especially upsetting at work, where you need to function. Take several really deep breaths, (when we are under stress we also tend to shallow breathe even more, not getting enough oxygen to the brain) and try to calm down.

Do something for yourself every day. Ask yourself what one thing you could do for yourself that would make yourself feel better- then do it. It doesn’t have to be something huge. It could be going for a walk, listening to your favorite music, calling a friend, going to a bookstore, building a fire in the fireplace with a glass of wine- whatever it is that would make you feel better. We tend to do for others and feel guilty when we do something nice for ourselves. Now is the time when you need to be extra kind to yourself.

Ask for what you need. Let others help you. So many people don’t know what to do or say, yet they would be honored and would love to help you in any way they could if you will just reach out. Let people know what you need. This is different for everyone too. For some it might mean some time away from the festivities. For others, help with the children would be of great importance. Some just need some space to be alone, and then they will join in when they feel they are able to. Please don’t take offense at how each individual needs to handle their grief. It is not about you at all. It is about them and their personal journey of healing.

Get help. If you feel that you need help in dealing with your new life circumstances, that is also a great healing balm during this time. We all need help from time to time, and there is no shame in this. None of us is meant to live in isolation; we are indeed created to be social beings, needing the companionship of our fellow human beings on this journey. Reach out. There are those who can help.

There is a prose that I ran across years ago after the death of someone very close to me. I read it at her prayer service. My prayer is that it helps you live your life to the fullest, and with a new purpose.

For Both of Us

As long as I can

I will look at this world

for both of us.

As long as I can

I will laugh with the birds,

I will sing with the flowers,

I will pray to the stars,

for both of us.

As long as I can

I will remember

how many things

on this earth

were your joy.

And I will live

As well as you

would want me to live

As long as I can.

~ Sascha~

May the love of this Holiday Season be a balm for your pain, and fill your hearts with peace and joy! Blessings to all!