Help for Holiday Grieving
By New Life Ministries
Take care of yourself physically. Holidays can be physically draining,
especially if this is your first experience with a holiday since the death
of your loved one. Respect your mind and your body. The acronym DEER (drink,
eat, exercise, rest) may help you stay focused on taking care of yourself.
Holidays take enough energy by themselves without the additional gut-wrenching
pain of a death. Failing to take care of yourself physically will only
add to your fatigue and frustration.
2. Think back to how you celebrated the holidays. What was your role
in the celebration? How might that be different now that your loved one
has died? Begin to consider how you might want to handle your traditional
ways of celebrating this day following your beloved person's death. If
you have children (particularly dependent children) or others to consider
when deciding how to celebrate the holiday, listen to what is important
to them. Then see if you can incorporate their hopes or wishes into the
celebration without compromising what you need.
3. This year you may merely try to survive the holidays -- to get through
them. That is okay, especially when you remember that the holidays come
every year. You can skip them once (or twice) with the confidence that
as you move through your grief you will have more energy to deal with
the holidays the next time around.
4. Death puts things into perspective. Since the death of your loved
one, many of the routine things that previously concerned you may mean
almost nothing at all. Some of the festivities and all the hubbub of a
particular holiday might seem ridiculous. This is understandable during
the grieving process. Reassure yourself that eventually you can come to
a new and deeper understanding of each special day.
5. Talk with others about the reality that your loved one has died and
that therefore your life (and your celebrations) will feel and be different.
6. If you accept a holiday invitation to someone's home, give yourself
some leeway. Be up front with them when you accept the invitation, letting
them know that you will try to participate but that you may well excuse
yourself at some point. We suggest that you not host an event during the
first year after a death. As a guest you can leave when you want to or
even cancel at the last minute. You might also wish to consider making
alternative plans that may feel more comfortable, as a back up.
7. Remember that a "something" attitude rather than an "all-or-nothing"
attitude is a healthy way to approach many issues. You don't have to do
everything (or nothing) - you can do something, even if it is something
small. Perhaps you could pick one activity you traditionally did on this
occasion that has special meaning for you. Plan to do that activity again
this year, to begin to face the pain of change - to accept the empty chair
as part of your celebration.
Excerpted from the book The Empty Chair by Robert C. De Vries and
Susan J. Zonnebelt-Smeengein. Used by permission of New Life Ministries.
New Life Ministries has a variety of resources on men, women, and relationships.
Call 1-800-NEW-LIFE or visit www.newlife.com.
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