Hey there! Hope y’all had a great Thanksgiving holiday. My weekend was great – got to spend a bit of time with my grandson. He’s all boy. We played with cars all day on Friday! Okay, so I know we’re a week out. But some folks still have some huge challenges coming up, just getting through the holidays. Grab a cuppa, and find a comfy spot, and let’s see if we can find some things to help us all get through the holiday season a little easier. I know of quite a few families who have lost a loved one in the past year, and a couple of families who have tragically lost a loved one in the last couple of weeks. How do you even function when that happens? Grief is what it is. Don’t let anyone tell you how to grieve. The only rule to grief is this: There are no rules. Truly. There are no rules. But there are some things that can help ease going on with your own life, when you feel like it should have simply stopped short the moment that loved one departed this earth.
First, remember. There are NO rules! If you need to cry, do it. Laughter is not out of line. Sleeping more than usual is quite normal. Deep reflection is common; looking at old pictures or letters or listening to favorite shared music. But while you’re doing those things, make a gratitude list. Gratitude for the time you had with them, for the good times with them, even for the current grief and pain that signal that you had a strong relationship with them. Gratitude that they are up in heaven waiting for your time to come see them again. List of gratitude… helps with the blues.
Even if you’re basically alone, seek out someone and interact. You don’t have to be the life of the party, or anything of the sort. Just don’t isolate with your pain and sense of loss. Find someone you can share the sorrow with. Someone who can pray with you and for you, someone who can help keep you functioning. Attend church. There may be days you simply cannot drag yourself there. That’s okay. Just don’t give up on church or stop going altogether. If you’re struggling for several weeks in a row, call a friend who can come drive you. Maybe they can bring you a cup of coffee and a donut, help you pick out a comfortable outfit, and then take you to church and back. (I don’t suspect men will be helping each other with fashion advice, but it’s perfectly okay to call a buddy to get you to the church.)
Don’t get stressed out over keeping all the family holiday traditions. Honestly, you may not feel like having a holiday! Don’t let yourself feel guilty because you didn’t put up the tree this year. Don’t let anyone else make you feel guilty, either! Even if they went through a loss that looks identical on the surface, every person is different and every relationship is different, so every person’s grief is different. No rules. And no copycats, either.
Count your blessings. This can be very difficult in the wake of a loss. But it can also help us keep from getting ‘stuck’ in our grief. No matter how blessed we are, the loss is larger than life and can tend to overshadow everything else. Once in a while, take stock of the things you still have. Here are a few of mine: God, church, family, pets, house, transportation, sight, hearing, smell, taste, food, music, friends… One day, you might only list God. One day, maybe you can list all the friends who love you and care for you.
While we’re at it, there are other reasons for ‘grieving’ during the holidays besides the loss of a loved one. You may be struggling with a long-term illness. Maybe you or someone else in the house has just had major surgery. There may be a family situation that causes great heartache. Give yourself permission to be human. All of these situations can trigger the same grief as the loss of a loved one. Be gentle with yourself, not demanding that you ‘snap out of it’ and ‘get to movin’. Have a friend pick up some things at the grocery for you. Do you holiday shopping online and have it delivered to your door! Have a ‘wrapping party’ where a few of you can get together and wrap gifts – let them help if you’re not up to doing all of yours. And for goodness’ sake, don’t stress about the housekeeping!
Always remember, if you need to talk to someone you can call a pastor or priest anytime. They will be there to help or find whatever help you need.