Handling Special Occasions

molding cookie dough for christmas

“I ask you to try to understand that time or season does not change the pain. I want to smile at life and enjoy the Holiday cheer, but sometimes I just need the space to shed some tears.”

Holidays conjure up a myriad of memories and emotions for each of us, but when you’re going through a painful time of grief and loss, the holidays can be especially challenging. It is important to remember:

  1. Surrender your expectations- We create (or at least add to) a great deal of stress by holding onto unrealistic expectations for ourselves, our loved ones, and our holiday plans. We’re often bound by tradition and guilt-ridden if we suddenly don’t feel up to participating in the way we normally do. We pressure ourselves to make everything perfect. Breathe a big sigh of relief and give yourself a pass this year! Stay true to the things that you genuinely want to do – and be okay with scaling back for your own well-being and peace of mind this year. Next year, you’re free to reevaluate and adjust. Stay open and flexible. And promise to treat yourself gently.
  2. Pare down and simplify- Simple can be just the recipe for a peaceful, pleasant holiday season. Sometimes the things we hold onto tightly are not the things that truly make a difference. Get down to basics! What matters most is people – and the precious time you share with folks you love. Overzealous decorating, cooking, shopping, and running yourself ragged are not the things that matter most. Pare down your to-do list. For this year, only keep the most important, treasured items on your list. Forget the rest. And don’t feel guilty about it!
  3. Seize moments of quiet and solitude- Take little ‘time-outs’ when you begin to feel overwhelmed. Step away for a few minutes, get quiet, fix something warm to drink, and breathe deeply. Clear your mind and refocus. Take a moment to get your mind off the chaos around and within you. Listen to peaceful music, read a comforting passage, picture a tranquil scene in your mind, look at a favorite photo that makes you smile – whatever settles you down. And then get back to whatever you were doing.

Here are a few thoughts and questions that can help you prepare yourself. Ask others who are a little farther along in their grief journey what may or may not have helped them. Remember everyone is different, but getting some ideas from others who have gone through the holidays can be helpful.

  1. What are some ways to remember and include your baby?
  2. How can you make time for yourself?
  3. Give yourself the permission to say no. 
  4. Change some traditions. What are some new possibilities?
  5. Do something for others, random acts of kindness or service can be very healing.
  6. Express your feelings. Know that you do not have to always be ok. It is important to let others know how you are doing or if you are unable to do something. 

For many people, grief during the holidays is an oxymoron. Holidays are supposed to be happy, fun, joyful, overflowing with bonds of love. Grief casts a painful, somber, dark shadow over the holidays, shrouding the happy memories of past celebrations. We grieve because we loved. We formed an intense attachment to another person. We became vulnerable, letting the other person deep into our life in intimate ways. Attachments, connections, once the glue that held our life together, have now been broken by death. We yearn to have our loved one close to us again. Be gentle with yourself as you navigate these foreign waters. 

“Someone is Missing this Christmas”

Let this be a loving reminder,

 that someone is missing today.

Someone our hearts still hold onto,

as we travel along life’s way.

Someone who made life so special, 

for all those who gather here. 

Someone who won’t be forgotten, 

but cherished from year to year.

Now as we pause to remember,

 let us all fondly recall.

How dearly each of us loved them 

and oh… how they loved us all!!

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