If you’re a follower of this blog, you most likely know that I lost my Dad this year. In fact, Christmas Day will mark 3 months since his passing. Merry Christmas. Honestly, if I had my way, I’d ignore the whole darned holiday. Just draw the blinds, and let it pass, unobserved. It doesn’t feel right to celebrate anything at all without him.
I have two incredible children, though, and they deserve all the wonder and the joy of the season. They were the light of his life, and I know that he wants me to make their Christmas as magical as possible. So I will, as best I can. Which means I need to avail myself of some self-care and coping techniques. I know I’m not the only person grieving this Season. I offer these gentle suggestions to anyone who is dealing with loss.
Seems so simple, doesn’t it? Believe me, when you’re grieving, it’s not. Grief happens in your heart and in your mind. Neither aspect is easy to talk about, even to those closest to you. But it does help. Talk to a friend, a family member, a counselor, a minister. Hell, talk to your dog, or a snowman. Just talk. Get it out.
This is my favorite technique for “getting out of my head”. When I find myself consumed with sadness, I grab a journal and a pen and do a “brain dump”. I write and write, letting all my thoughts flow onto the paper. I don’t pay attention to sentence structure, or even whether it makes sense. I invariably feel better after a while.
3. Do something creative
One of my favorite quotes is from Deepak Chopra: “The Best use of imagination is creativity. The worst use of imagination is anxiety.” Grief and anxiety go hand in hand. Chopra is right. Channeling your imagination into something creative helps to keep anxiety at bay. I’ve been participating in “Blogmas” this year for that very reason. I missed a few days, but it was fun. Brainstorming post ideas, writing, taking photos all occupied my busy mind in a productive way.
Grief during the Holidays (or anytime, for that matter) is exhausting! The Holidays themselves are exhausting. So much to do. Shop, Decorate, cook, wrap gifts, entertain (or attend parties). The list goes on. Put it all together, and it feels like you’re going nonstop. You probably are. So, stop. Even if only for an hour or two, stop. Lay down. Get a nap. Make sure you’re getting enough sleep. It fuels you more than anything else.
5. Start a new tradition, or tribute to your lost loved one
Every Christmas morning, my parents would wake up early so they could be here when my kids got up and opened their presents. My Dad was a towering man, six feet nine inches tall. He sat in a big, almost throne-like chair in our formal living room. I bought it with him in mind. This year, that huge chair will be empty. I’m struggling with that.
So, what do we do? We decided to leave the chair empty this year. Next year, my son, Jack, Dads only grandson will take the place as his.
This year, my Mother, husband and I plan drink a toast to Dad with his favorite Scotch, and honor his life.
6. Honor old traditions
The fact that your loved one has died does not erase the wonderful times you had, or the holiday traditions you created together. Think about the traditions that they started, enjoyed, or that you loved most,and enjoyed the most together. Can those be carried on in their name? Traditions kept are beautiful reminders.
7. Consider the gift of Memories.
I wrote a post about Giving the Gift Of Memories last week. Especially when a family is grieving, Gifts with a personal touch, or that honor those who were lost, are of particular significance.
8. Make sure you’re taking care of yourself.
There are people everywhere, right? Family, friends, kids…everyone needs something…usually attention or help. Do what you CAN. Do what you WANT. But remember m you have to take care of yourself!!! Eat right, get outside, get some exercise. Remember, you can’t pour for an empty pitcher.
If you are Dealing with Grief This Holiday Season, you have my sympathy, my prayers, and my empathy. I hope the above suggestions bring you some comfort.