Author Topic: Holiday Tips/Ideas/Articles  (Read 4846 times)

Terry

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Holiday Tips/Ideas/Articles
« on: October 04, 2011, 12:18:04 PM »
There are many here that are going to be facing their first holiday season without their loved one. There is help for all and please feel free to post your *own* ideas and tips from holidays past. And, if you are further along on your journey, please share what has helped you.

It's so important to remember that you are not alone. There are many who walk *with* you and are just as confused and frightened, as there is nothing more difficult than dealing with all of those *firsts* without your loved one.

If you find an article that you feel could benefit others here, please post it. If you have an idea, post it! If you're already anticipating lack of family support and are not sure how to handle this, post it here.

Remember, this is *Your* grief and you own your feelings. You can participate in the holiday festivities and then you can choose not to. It is up to you.

Post any concerns here. Someone will help you. We care about each and everyone of you, very much!

Love,
Terry
« Last Edit: October 11, 2011, 01:07:29 AM by Terry »
"One thing I've learned on this journey (it's been a year and a few days since my husband, Tom, died of cancer), is that in the beginning, there is a lot of the one-step-forward-two-steps-back shuffle." - RobinBlue - Spouse Loss

Terry

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First Christmas after a Death
« Reply #1 on: October 04, 2011, 12:21:51 PM »
"The First Christmas After a Death" --Susan Dunn

1. When we grieve we have no energy.

Decisions are hard to make, the smallest chore seems monumental, ordinarily joyous things are not, things that used to bother you don’t bother you any more, you don’t defend yourself well, to pretend takes too much effort, and you need lots of rest.

“She is seeking the solace of sleep,” my sister would tell people who called.

Nothing matters. The oven goes out, dinner has to be canceled and you have to reconvene in a restaurant. You wonder why something like that would upset the others so much.

2. Take care of yourself physically, emotionally, mentally and spiritually.

Do what you know you should do. Think of a time when it mattered, if necessary – supplements, eating right, rest, talking to someone, keeping your obligations manageable, getting exercise.

Your immune system will be run down. Outsource it. Therapy and support groups bolster your immune system.

3. You can cancel Christmas if you want to.

Sleep, take a walk, or study something intellectual to get your mind off emotional things.

4. You can also change the venue.

One woman took her grown kids downtown to a hotel and they celebrated there.

5. People want to help you and they don’t know how.

Nothing will really help. You just want them back. But let others “do something”. If they ask and you can’t think of anything, ask them to “do something”. They’ll figure it out. Everyone knows houses must be cleaned, dogs walked, groceries bought, and meals prepared.

6. Alcohol doesn’t help anything.

7. Explain what you need.

Say, “If I get up and leave the table, just let me go. I’ll be OK. I’ll come back when I’m ready.”

8. You might get some relief helping others – serving dinner to the homeless, or buying gifts for a family in need.

Then again you might not, but at least you’ll have wasted some time.

9. What will you do with their Christmas stocking?

One woman set out her husband’s Christmas stocking with a journal beside it for visitors to write in it. Another woman slept with her daughter’s stocking under her pillow.

10. Avoid malls.

You see things you would buy for the one who is gone, you see the happy couples when you are no longer a couple, you see the cherubic face of a little boy who looks like the one you lost.

You hear the music. Even a little is too much. Remember you can turn the radio and television off.

In the words of a caring friend of mine, “Have a Christmas.” You may be hard put to supply the adjective, and that’s okay. If you choose to observe the day, “Have a Christmas,” and understand that those who slip and tell you, “Well, I hope you have a Merry Christmas,” don’t know what they’re saying.

The “firsts” are difficult – the first anniversary, the first birthday, the first Valentine’s Day, the first fall, summer, spring and winter.

“How odd,” you may think, when the first snow falls in the first winter after, or when the first daffodil blooms in the first spring after. “How odd that’s the same when the most important things are not.”

Prescriptions and predictions are annoying. Time does heal many people and it becomes less raw with time; however, if that time does come, it comes at its own pace. Be forgiving of yourself and others, and, well, have a Christmas. Or don’t. One way or another that particular day will pass and you will have survived your first Christmas without them.

Together our group had a holiday memorial to our loved ones, lighting the 4 candles in the Advent wreath. No one knows who wrote the prayer, but here it is:

A HOLIDAY MEMORIAL FOR [YOUR LOVED ONE]

As we light these 4 candles in honor of you, we light one for our grief, one for our courage, one for our memories, and one for our love.

This candle represents our grief. The pain of losing you is intense. It reminds us of the depth of our love for you.

This candle represents our courage – to confront our sorrow, to comfort each other, to change our lives.

This candle is in your memory – the times we laughed, the times we cried, the times we were angry with each other, the silly things you did, the caring and joy you gave us.

This candle is the light of love. As we enter this holiday season day by day we cherish the special place in our hearts that will always be reserved for you. We thank you for the gift your living brought to each of us. We love you.

And then you can say their name.
"One thing I've learned on this journey (it's been a year and a few days since my husband, Tom, died of cancer), is that in the beginning, there is a lot of the one-step-forward-two-steps-back shuffle." - RobinBlue - Spouse Loss

Terry

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Surviving Grief During the Holiday Season
« Reply #2 on: October 09, 2011, 03:19:37 PM »
Written by: Angela Morrow, RN

With the first fallen leaf of autumn, we begin to anticipate the holidays ahead. Our senses are acute and take in everything: the smell of turkey roasting and freshly baked pies; the holiday songs playing on the radio; the sound of laughter from our loved ones who have gathered together. But for those of us who are experiencing illness, grief, or the loss of a loved one, the holidays can be a time of sadness, pain, anger, or dread.

The ebb and flow of grief can overwhelm us with waves of memories, especially during the holidays. Grief will also magnify the stress that is already a part of the holiday season. How do we begin to fill the emptiness we feel when it seems everyone else is overflowing with joy? There are some strategies to help you cope during the holidays and beyond.

Strategies for Survival


Offer Yourself Some Grace

The best thing you can do this holiday season is be kind to yourself. Give yourself permission to feel whatever it is your feeling. Don’t fall prey to the belief that you have to feel a certain way or do certain things for your holiday to be “normal.” If you feel sad, allow the tears to come; if you feel angry, allow yourself to vent some steam.

Be Kind to Yourself

Get the rest and nourishment you need. Don’t take on any more than you can handle. If you need to be alone, honor that. If you crave the company and affection of others, seek it out. Do whatever it is that feels right to you.

Ask For and Accept Help

The holiday season is no time to feign strength and independence. You will need the help and support of others to get through. Don’t feel as though you are a burden. People get immense satisfaction and joy from helping those they care about.

In times of need, other people desire to help but often don’t know how. This is the time for you to
speak up and make your needs known. If you need someone to help you with meals, shopping, or decorating, tell them so. They will be delighted to feel like they are helping you in some way.

The same holds true for your emotional needs. Friends and family may feel uncomfortable when it comes to talking about your grief. They may think that you don’t want to talk about it and don’t want to remind you of your pain. Again, you will have to direct them in the best way to help you. If you want to talk about what you’re going through or just want a shoulder to cry on, let your loved ones know.

Find Support

Sharing your feelings is the best way to get through them. You need people you can talk to. Friends and relatives can be a great support to us during times of grief, but they are sometimes full of their own grief or so immersed in the business of the holidays that they cannot be a support to you. Support groups for caregivers and the bereaved are plentiful during the holiday season. Check with local churches, community centers, and hospice agencies to find a group that suites you. Support group members often make friends that end up being a source of support for years to come.

Make a Difference

Most of us like to help others during the holiday season. Taking the ornament off the tree at the mall, dropping our change in the charity basket, or donating to our favorite organization can help us feel like we are contributing to a greater good. Helping others in times of grief can help take the focus off yourself and your pain. Volunteering at a nursing home, hospital, children’s shelter, or soup kitchen can be cathartic in times of pain. Even helping a friend or family member in need can be healing.

Stop the Comparisons

It’s easy to watch other families and compare them to your own. Seeing other families together and enjoying the festivities may make you feel deprived. Keep in mind that the holidays are stressful for most families and are rarely the magical gatherings depicted in greeting cards. Try to embrace what you have rather than compare it to what you think others have.

Remember That You Will Survive

As hard as it is for you right now, you will survive. You will make it through the holidays in one piece. It may be the most difficult season in your time of grief, but it will pass. And when it does, you will come out on the other side stronger than before.
You don’t have to enjoy the holidays. You don’t even have to go through the motions pretending to enjoy the festivities. But, it’s also just fine to have a good time in spite of your grief. If happiness slips through your window of grief, allow it to happen and enjoy it. You won’t be doing your loved one an injustice by feeling joyous. The best gift you can give anyone you love, even someone you have lost, is being true to yourself and living your life to the fullest.
"One thing I've learned on this journey (it's been a year and a few days since my husband, Tom, died of cancer), is that in the beginning, there is a lot of the one-step-forward-two-steps-back shuffle." - RobinBlue - Spouse Loss

Terry

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Re: Holiday Tips/Ideas/Articles
« Reply #3 on: November 25, 2012, 01:46:05 PM »
Tips for Surviving Grief & the Holidays

Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa and other seasonal holidays are stressful for nearly everyone. But they can be particularly difficult if you’re grieving the death of a loved one.

The pain, sadness and loneliness that often follow the loss of a friend, family member or animal companion can feel unbearable when everyone around you is celebrating. This is especially true if it’s the first holiday without the loved one.

Grieving in general is a struggle but during the holidays, when our emotions are already on high alert, trying to figure out what to do can be very confusing, especially if you are trying to keep everything as it was before the person died. Traditional tasks such as cooking, tree decorating, gift-buying and entertaining can add to the intensity of one’s grief, too.

Grief is a normal human reaction to the loss of someone important in our lives. There is no right or wrong way to grieve. Every person grieves in their own way and at their own pace. Grief can affect people physically, emotionally, psychologically and spiritually.

Most importantly: No one needs to grieve alone!

Be mindful of the energy that grieving and the holidays take. Both are hard work and exhausting. You can take care of yourself by spending your energy wisely, getting enough rest, and being careful not to overbook yourself with activities. 
    If certain family traditions—such as carving the turkey or leading the family in song—make you uncomfortable this year, don’t do them. You can always pick them up later.
    When you are grieving, your memory may not be up to par, or you may be having trouble concentrating. That’s normal. For holiday tasks such as cooking, shopping, cleaning and organizing, make lists and rely on them. 
    To avoid the stress of shopping, buy gift cards for everyone this year, or shop from catalogs or Internet sites. If mail order gifts cost more than you would normally spend, consider the difference a gift to yourself to preserve peace of mind.
    If your loss was an animal companion, ignore potential comments such as, “Get over it already! Enjoy yourself? It was just an animal.” Some people have never experienced a close bond with a pet and are unable to understand what you’re going through. Thank the person for their concern, and continue to grieve in your own way.  Seek out family members or friends who understand the pain of your loss.
    Pay attention to yourself. Listen when that little voice tells you that you’re tired and need to take a break from holiday preparation.
   
If you are feeling pressured to participate in more than you’re comfortable with, try saying “No thank you.” You don’t owe anyone an explanation. Be kind, but firm. Do what feels right to you.
   
If you are up for taking part in festivities, enjoy them in moderation and to your comfort level. Let the host know ahead of time that it’s hard for you to be around cheerful people right now, that you may need to leave early or cry unexpectedly.
   
If you are grieving too deeply and celebrating is not an option, remember the 3Cs: choice, communication and compromise. Give yourself permission to choose what specific things you want to do, and who you want to be with. Communicate your thoughts and feelings about those choices with loved ones, especially those also affected by the loss. Finally, be open to compromising with family and friends on all issues. 

Instead of trying to push back memories of the person you are grieving this holiday, ask friends and family members to share recollections with you in photographs, stories and mementos.
   
Find ways to include the loved one in your celebrations.

Some examples:

1) Nightly, light a holiday-scented memorial candle near a framed photo or photo collage. The symbol of light in darkness reminds us that there is hope.

2)  Put a place setting at the dinner table where the loved one always sat. Putting a single flower on the plate and leaving an empty glass will signify presence of spirit.

3) Make a special ornament or decoration that includes a memento or photo of your loved one. If children are grieving too, have them create artwork to display.

4) When alone in a safe place, relax with holiday tea or other favorite beverage, and talk out loud to your loved one, expressing your innermost thoughts and feelings. When finished, offer a prayer or a toast. 
   
Above all, trust that you will make it through the holidays this year. Even with the differences, you will find the experience bittersweet. Trust that while the season will be tinged with many emotions, you will be able to celebrate more fully in the future. 

There also are ways to help someone else who is grieving. Holidays are about love, and there’s no better way to show your love at this time than to just be there for the friend or family member on their terms; let them grieve in their own way and on their own time.

You can help by encouraging them to talk about their grief and share memories of the loved one who died. Also, refer to their loved one by name; it’s comforting to the grieving individual to hear. Listen to their story. Hold their hand. Sit with them as they cry. Offer help with holiday chores or daily activities. Respect their decision to not attend celebrations, and their need to be alone. Be supportive, and encourage them to find support outside of their social circle.

Written by: Marilyn Chapla

"One thing I've learned on this journey (it's been a year and a few days since my husband, Tom, died of cancer), is that in the beginning, there is a lot of the one-step-forward-two-steps-back shuffle." - RobinBlue - Spouse Loss

Terry

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Re: Holiday Tips/Ideas/Articles
« Reply #4 on: November 29, 2014, 08:14:22 PM »

Thinking of all facing their first holiday season without their loved one.

Love,
Terry
"One thing I've learned on this journey (it's been a year and a few days since my husband, Tom, died of cancer), is that in the beginning, there is a lot of the one-step-forward-two-steps-back shuffle." - RobinBlue - Spouse Loss