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:
- Accept the likelihood of your pain.
- Feel whatever it is your feel.
- Express your emotions.
- Plan ahead.
- Take charge where you can.
- Turn to others for support.
- Be gentle with yourself.
- Remember to remember.
- Search out and count your blessings.
- Do something for others.
- Give voice to your soul.
- 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.