Author Topic: Surviving Grief During the Holiday Season  (Read 7152 times)

Terry

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Surviving Grief During the Holiday Season
« on: October 09, 2011, 03:22:12 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. Donít fall prey to the belief that you have to feel a certain way or do certain things for your holiday to be ďnormal.Ē 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. Donít 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. Donít 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 donít 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 donít want to talk about it and donít 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 youíre 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, childrenís 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

Itís 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 donít have to enjoy the holidays. You donít even have to go through the motions pretending to enjoy the festivities. But, itís 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 wonít 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.

sunshineme1

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Re: Surviving Grief During the Holiday Season
« Reply #1 on: February 08, 2012, 07:44:39 AM »
its been 3 years and still having a really hard time especially when the holidays roll aroung I lost my husband Dec 3oth, 2008, in January is his birthday and Feb 14th is our aniversary, when those times come around my mood is alway different during the week before and the days
Debbie

SarahW

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Re: Surviving Grief During the Holiday Season
« Reply #2 on: February 08, 2012, 08:18:50 AM »
its been 3 years and still having a really hard time especially when the holidays roll aroung I lost my husband Dec 3oth, 2008, in January is his birthday and Feb 14th is our aniversary, when those times come around my mood is alway different during the week before and the days
Debbie

Three years isn't really very long for such a loss.

Be good to yourself during these times.  It helps me to do something to remember my loved one - like flowers for the gravesite, or lunch with someone who also misses my loved one, etc.

All my best as you get yourself through the next few weeks.
I love thee to the level of every day's Most quiet need, by sun and candle-light. -- Emily Dickinson

You were a gift

sunshineme1

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Re: Surviving Grief During the Holiday Season
« Reply #3 on: February 08, 2012, 08:30:33 AM »
Thank you, just reading what you say makes me tear, I feel like there is a wall up and wont let me through, I do talk about him all the time, have had a sister say I need to stop talking about him, my doctor say talk about him all you want, but when those special days come around anger builds and I believe it is at him, the way he went was bad, he had diabetes, amputations, and after he died I looked at his medication bottles and disvcovered he stopped taking the pills therefore he had total occlusion and caused a massive stroke and put on life support. Every month I alway thought he was refilling his bottles because he always went up to the pharmacy because he like to walk around and look at stuff and alway carried a bag in with him so I thought the prescriptions were in the bag but they werent. I went to the pharmacy after he died to verify and they showed me the last time they were filled. I felt so guilty that I did not watch more closely and that is why I cant get through this, I feel if I had taken better care of him he would still be here

Terry

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Re: Surviving Grief During the Holiday Season
« Reply #4 on: October 10, 2015, 01:38:40 PM »
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, childrenís shelter, or soup kitchen can be cathartic in times of pain. Even helping a friend or family member in need can be healing.

Lulubell

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Re: Surviving Grief During the Holiday Season
« Reply #5 on: January 06, 2016, 03:53:57 AM »
First christmas/new years without my mom. First time in my entire life not being with my mom christmas eve. My boyfriend is Russian orthodox, his mother still lives over there, his brother lives in the States, his family here including his father and step mother are jewish so he never really celebrated Christmas. My sister goes to her husbands parents house, my brother goes to his wife's parents house, so it's just been me and my mom Christmas eve for the last 7 years. Even though I had mentioned this several times I was not invited by either or my siblings to join them. My boyfriend and I were together most of the night but I was alone. I laid in bed and started talking to my mom and I could feel her with me and I knew if she could she would just tell me to go to sleep so I did.

Tammy

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Re: Surviving Grief During the Holiday Season
« Reply #6 on: July 12, 2018, 07:23:48 PM »
Our son died a few days before Memorial Day and on our 36th Wedding Anniversary we spent the day making funeral arrangements. The last time I saw him was Mother's Day. My birthday and his is approaching. So, I guess and hope with all this I'll get through the other holidays. I still keep hoping to wake up from this nightmare, but the reality is he is gone. He suffered anxiety and depression and had a bad heart. I miss him terribly, but have to be strong and go on for I am now raising his daughter. Taking it minute by minute. I worked for years in mental health and think that my training has helped me to deal with this horrible tragedy. I have accepted it and am doing my best to move forward. I don't think a parent ever heals from this type of loss, but we have to keep going for those left behind with us. I don't wish this pain on anyone. There is a piece of artwork called melancholy by an artist in Switzerland that depicts exactly how I feel and from reading what others have written that have lost a child they feel it is exactly how they feel as well. Thank you all for sharing your stories and I hope you all are doing well and can find some sort of peace and begin to move forward. Our loved one may be gone from this earth, but they live on in our hearts and memories.