Holiday Grief

HowWillIGetThruHolidaysI fear of holidays, especially Thanksgiving and Christmas.

I remember how hard it was for me last year, the 1st year I lost my child. While other children were dressed up cheerfully, showered with gifts and screaming for more candy canes, mine was taken and never to come back to us. It felt as if the holidays were my punishments.

This year, I wanted extra support. I found help upon reading “How Will I Get Through The Holidays” by James E. Miller. How timely and appropriate. It was exactly what I wanted. The booklet has only 59 pages, light but packed with 12 ideas for those who have lost the loved ones.

These 12 ideas are so helpful that I cannot help but to list them down:

  1. Accept the likelihood of your pain.
  2. Feel whatever it is your feel.
  3. Express your emotions.
  4. Plan ahead.
  5. Take charge where you can.
  6. Turn to others for support.
  7. Be gentle with yourself.
  8. Remember to remember.
  9. Search out and count your blessings.
  10. Do something for others.
  11. Give voice to your soul.
  12. Harbor hope.

For a while, I assumed that I would get over the sadness and be strong as I always have been in my life. I suppressed my feelings, especially the sad and ugly ones until I blew up out of control. I learned that I couldn’t contain or harbor my fear, sad, and anxiety anymore. It only makes things worse. I am entitled to my own feelings, bad or worst ones. They are mine and I have the right to feel and express them. By reading the chapters of “Feel whatever it is you feel” and “Express your emotions”, I felt loads of weight coming off my shoulders and it liberated me!

Holiday time is stressful, with shopping, cleaning and gatherings, not to mention mourning the loved ones.  Some people you want to see more often and others you may not want to spend one more minute with; some people gives unwanted advices that can be hurtful.   And fighting through the holiday crowd in the mall is brutal.   I have decided to do most of my shopping online. But, I still have difficulty picking out gifts for kids. It is my sore spot. I do not have a living child and do not know what kids like to have, why pretend I am happy to shop for them? It just adds stress that others could not comprehend. This year, I will not force myself.

With the tragedy of lost my only child, I also lost myself, the sense of security and identity.  I have been taking guilt trips every now and then to punish myself. But, was any of what happened to me under my control or my fault? No, it was NOT. It is helpful to be reminded that I need to take care of my grief, with gentleness.

Give to others is also a very helpful tool. I have not done that during the holiday but the six months of volunteering at a local hospital in the beginning of the year makes me realized that I still mattered, not only to myself but also to others. I like that.

What do you find helpful in this list? Feel free to offer your helpful ideas.

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About jasmine shei

My blog is to express my journey in finding a purpose in life, after a great loss. As I wonder in the woods, I hope I will eventually find a path to a lifelong fulfillment.
This entry was posted in Book Reviews, Recovery and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

11 Responses to Holiday Grief

  1. I adore your list – planning ahead seems like a great healthy way to face such a hard season!
    As for kid shopping – I’ve gotten really good at giving gift certificates and shopping online to.

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  2. ajoobacats says:

    Allow yourself to be loved by others and focus on those loved ones around you. Something I forget in the mire of grief is to appreciate the ones that are here for me, now.

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  3. Syndal Leigh says:

    Thank you for sharing your heart. This time of year is hard for me as well. Each year I try to hold to some tradition that honors were I’ve been and acknowledges what I lost and feels life giving to me. For thanksgiving this year I have a thanksgiving tree I made with verses on it. Each day i choose one and send a note along with it to people I am grateful to God for. Some years I’ve written letters and kept them or sent then. But this year I want to send them. I want people to know I am thankful and grateful for then. I want to give away my gratitude. I don’t think I can bear going to toy stores and malls this season. Too painful. So instead I’m going to come up with a few holiday craft gifts to make others. It fills my time helps my budget and is life giving to me. I do believe in doing things for others, but out of my wealth, not poverty. I can’t give what I don’t have emotionally or physically, but these are things that fill me and fill others. It doesn’t take away the grief. It doesn’t even make the loss meaningful or bright, but it adds a new dimention to my life in grief and joy and cultivates my heart of gratefulness even when I’m not really thankful.

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    • jasmineshei says:

      Thank you for sharing, Syndal! This s very helpful, especially the crafts idea. I also like what you said about cultivate the heart of gratefulness. I know I am not always being thankful (who can blame us, anyway). But, I hope to have more positive days. Thanks!

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  4. meghanoc says:

    thank you thank you. THis is my first year without Mabel, and thus without any living children. I”ve been dreading them. People often say, be gentle with yourself (true words) or do what you need to do- but doesnt given any concrete advice. this is helpful, thank you. I think “m going to boycott christmas (just keep it to me and my spouse) but thanksgiving is a lot harder for me to skip (family issues). sigh. thank you.

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  5. I am so glad you found that book. To me the message to be gentle with ourselves is key. It applies or should apply throughout the year. I hope you find creative and mundane ways to be gentle with yourself as you have outlined here. Warm hugs, Jasmine.

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