A Guide to Grieving During the Holidays
Many people think about making resolutions in the New Year. Lose weight, eat better, exercise more and spend less are common examples of resolutions long forgotten by the first of February. For those grieving a death, resolutions may be the farthest thing from the mind. But perhaps your resolution might be mindfully adjusting to the absence of your loved one. Adjusting to the loss includes making meaning of the life changes brought on by the death. Here are some things to consider:
- Be honest with your feelings. Others might expect you to be “over it” at three or six months post death, but there is no calendar for grief. Find a place, a way, or a person with whom you can express your grief feelings.
- Do something that feels good. This can be spending time with people you like, finding a hobby that provides an outlet for your creative energy, or an escape from the day-to-day. Doing something often builds self-esteem through a sense of accomplishment. Take a walk or hike, make art, journal, listen to music, be with others.
- Talk about your deceased loved one. Say his or her name out loud. Find ways to honor or include him or her at holidays and special occasions. Create a remembrance project such as a scrapbook, photo album or a collection of recipes or letters.
- Give yourself permission to change. Life is different now. Consider what you have lost, what you have left and what you are going to do now. What is becoming of the person you used to be and who are you now? What lessons or self-discoveries have you learned?
- Continue your loved one’s legacy. Think about what was important to the person who died. There are ways you can transform your grief into a legacy of love. Share stories about your beloved with children. Contribute to a charity or attend an event in honor of your special person. Bake or cook those special recipes. Listen to their favorite music.
As you search to find meaning in loss and adjust to changes in your life, you may start to make some sense of what has happened. You may find a bridge that connects the past with the future in a way you can accept. Take the first step anytime. You don’t have to wait until December 31 to begin to heal.
Diane Snyder Cowan