It is extremely hard for those who are yet to encounter a loss to truly appreciate just how devastating and traumatic it is to lose a loved one. They cannot see into your head or your heart to understand the kinds of suffering you are experiencing in your grief. Oftentimes we “pretend” we are okay on these days, that we are just as excited as everyone else, when really we are saddened by the whole affair. So what can you do when the holidays are just around the corner, how can you prepare, both yourself and those around you for the effects of grief and bereavement that will inevitably affect you?
- Expect the old demons to surface, even if it’s been years since the loss of your loved one.
- Find a really close friend to spend the night with, someone who understands you so well they don’t have to say anything and will leave you be, if that’s what you need.
- Don’t overstretch yourself and watch out for patterns you might have around “stuffing” your feelings, like over eating, over working, over consumption of drugs and alcohol, you will end up feeling worse if you let these impulses get the better of you.
- Don’t let the cheer get you down. Trust that one day you too will feel festive again, and understand that for now you are healing and fragile, your enthusiasm will eventually return.
- Create your own ritual to remember your loved one and how you shared this event together, light a candle, write a note and send it heavenwards attached to a helium balloon, get out the pictures from years past and reminisce, express how much you miss them to your friends and family.
- Give yourself the space to grieve. The “firsts” are always difficult and even if you are well on the road to recovery they can still bring you down. Take an afternoon off work, sleep in longer, stay home or go out if you want, but try not to make plans you’ll have to cancel if you feel bad.
- Do something extra kind for yourself. Book a steam, spa, pedicure, massage, or take a yoga or dance class. Go play golf, go surfing or spend the afternoon on your hobbies. Order food in, or go to your favorite restaurant. Be gentle with you.
- Be prepared for the triggers. People talking about what they are doing with their mom, dad, brother or sister and expect to have your sense of loss aggravated. Don’t avoid this, but sit with it. Feel into it.
- Spend some time reflecting on all the good things you have in your life. Give gratitude for your own life, the love that surrounds you and the people you still have to share it with.
A problem shared is a problem halved. Find someone who understands: a friend, family member or grief counselor who can totally empathize with your feelings and isn’t trying to get you “back to normal.” Seek out an environment where your deepest fears and pains will be gently accepted in a loving, non-judgmental way.
Copyright Gemini Adams
Updated: July 16, 2013