Holiday Grieving Essentials
Susan J. Zonnebelt & Robert C. De Vries
New Life Ministries
1. 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
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 persons 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
someones 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 dont 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.
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Copyright © 2002 New
Life Ministries. New Life Ministries wants to be a source of hope and encouragement
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