In this session of Caregiver Tip Tuesday we look at ways to help you as your grieve your loved one during the holiday season.
Happy holidays?!? Your loved one has died, your world has been turned upside down, and all you want is the one thing that you cannot have --your loved one back. The rest of the world goes on with the parties, the celebrations, the lights and the cheer, and you want more than anything to magically skip this season. What do you do? How do you make it through this time of year? How do you find peace during the holidays?
- Give yourself permission to change traditions. Just because you always have or never have done something, does not mean that this is what you need to do. Ask yourself--is this what I want to do? If you have always stayed home, you can travel. If you have always had the home with the decorations that the community slows down to admire, you do not need to decorate. If you want to continue, than do so. But if not, try something new and see how it feels.
- Involve your loved one in the holidays. There are many ways to do this:
- Place a basket on your table and ask all of your friends and family to send you a brief memory of your loved one. Place them in the basket and read one every day during the holidays.
- Light a candle for your loved one. Place the candle in a prominent location in your home.
- Hang a stocking for them and place a journal in the stocking. Invite family and friends to write memories and thoughts in the journal. Give yourself a present, and read these over and over every year.
- Get a special ornament to honour and remember your loved one, and place it in a prominent place on your tree.
- Attend a candle lighting in your community.
- Plan an escape plan. When you are invited to a party that you may feel like you want to attend, you may go with the best of intentions and when you get there, it all changes. You no longer want to be there. Drive yourself, or go with a friend and talk with them in advance about the fact that when you need to leave, you need to leave. Communicate with your host in advance, tell them that you may leave and that it is not because of them or of their party, it just might be what you need.
- Be honest with your family and friends. If they want you to be a part of their holidays than your loved one comes with you. This means that you are going to have feelings, thoughts and memories that you may want to share. If your loved one is not welcome than how can you go?
- You do not need to share your feelings with those in your life if you do not want to. You have permission to say, "I am fine", even if it is not true. You can feel free to share your feelings or not--you decide.
- Give yourself the gift of time for yourself. This time of year can be so busy. We have all of our responsibilities of the rest of the year, all of the special events, and we are still grieving. The best gift might be a walk in the cemetery to sit with your loved one, or just some time to cry. You have permission to say "no" to others, and to give time to yourself.
- It is ok to feel joy and happiness. As grieving people, we often feel guilty when we feel good. We feel like we do not have the right to joy when our loved one is not here. Pain and joy --tears and happiness, are two sides of the same coin. We feel what we feel! Feelings are not right or wrong, so give yourself permission to feel good for the moments that you do and to cry and hurt when you are sad.
- Your love one still is, and always will be, with you. They are no longer physically here, but they are always with you right there in your heart. Love never dies!
- If something does not work this year, you have permission to change it next year.
The holidays will never be the same but there is peace, and even happiness, to be found. Love never dies! Give yourself permission to remake the holidays. Blessings, Love and Peace to you during these holidays.
©2013 The Grief Toolbox, Inc.
After the death of his son Noah, over 14 years ago, Glen Lord has been dedicating his life to illustrating that joy and sorrow can and do co-exist and life after the death of a loved one can be good again. As a member of The Compassionate Friends (TCF), a US organization supporting families who have lost children, Glen has been actively involved in a number of TCF chapters all over the United States and currently serves on the National Board of Directors. He is also the co-founder of The Grief Toolbox, www.theGriefToolBox.com, a website dedicated to providing those who have lost a loved one with a number of tools and resources to help them through their grief journey. Glen is also the executive producer of the Walking Through Grief® series and has been a keynote speaker and presenter at number of events throughout the United States. Glen will be blogging about strategies and resources to manage loss and grief. Glen can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.