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Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Five Holiday Tips for Your Grief Journey

1. You do not have to do anything you don’t want to do.  Don’t feel pressured by your sense of duty to family and friends.  There are no “shoulds” or “musts” when you are on the path of your grief journey. Getting caught up in these absolutes will only make you miserable and others uncomfortable.

2.  Holidays are a rough time for anyone.  The expectations that we set for ourselves and the ones we perceive that others hold for us can be our undoing.  Practice the “KISS” philosophy—Keep it simple, sweetie.  It will save you the exhaustion and discomfort of trying to do more than you are able.

3. Do what you feel—if you can’t put up the decorations, don’t.  If you want to listen to sappy Holiday songs, do.  It’s time for self-care.  We have been programmed to think that caring for ourselves is selfish—it isn’t, it is essential to survival  and growth.  You can’t be there for others if you are not feeding your body and soul.

4. Don’t be surprised when everyone around you acts like nothing ever happened.  It is their inability to truly understand your pain that makes them act that way.  In addition they are uncomfortable with the whole concept of grief and sorrow so they will do whatever they can to ignore it, hoping it will go away.

5. The holiday season is supposed to be about love and happiness.  When you are in the midst of grief these things may seem  impossible.  If you are able, remember with love the happy times and holiday memories with your deceased loved one.  It’s ok to smile and cry at the same time.

The first Christmas after my son died I was pushed into attending a large family function held in a big public place.  I felt so out of place.  The noise and the amount of people were more than my raw emotions could take.  Needless to say, I didn’t stay long.  I recommend that you always have an escape route—what I mean by that is if you decide to go to a holiday gathering make sure that you can leave when/if it gets to feel overwhelming.

Take care of yourself and remember time moves forward minute by minute and the holidays will be over and things will return to a more even keel.  Also remember that you need to move forward step by step in your grief journey and only you know when to take those steps.

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