Sunday, October 18, 2015

Healing Your Holiday Grief - Read 52 Books in 52 Weeks - Week 42

As the holidays approach, this will be the first one without both my dad and mom. My dad died on January 5, 2012, and my mom died on August 15, 2015. I found a book at the library called Healing Your Holiday Grief - 101 Practical Ideas for Blending Mourning and Celebration During the Holiday Season by Alan D. Wolfelt.

Some of the recommendations that will be helpful for me going into the holiday season include:
- Give yourself a rest break today. Lay down for at least 20 minutes during the afternoon and relax. Sleep if sleep comes.
- Simplify your holiday rituals instead of abandoning them altogether. Keep the traditions that matter most to you and set the others aside, at least for now.
- Where do you feel most spiritually-connected to the person who died? Go there today and feel her/his presence.
- If you keep yourself too busy during the holidays, you may leave yourself no time to work on the critical need of mourning. Don't overschedule and don't try to "keep busy" simply to avoid the pain.
- Think about the earliest memories of holidays spent with the person who died. Do you have photographs from those years? If so, get them out and spend some time cherishing them today.
- The holidays are a time to take stock of our lives and give thanks for all that is good in them.
- Which holiday tasks were normally handled by the person who died? If you make a list, you'll probably find that some are more essential tasks than others.
- As you schedule your days and weeks, block out generous periods of time for rest and renewal. Your grief will likely make you feel tired and you'll nee extra rest.
- During your alone time, take long walks, meditate, pray - do whatever helps you nurture yourself during this naturally difficult time.
- Plan to spend time with your family this holiday season. Rekindle old traditions. Renew old relationships.
- Instead of concentrating on everything you have to do during the holidays, concentrate on whom you are doing it for. Who do you care about and what would truly be meaningful to them?
- Focus on the people, not the production of it all.
- This year, instead of making a holiday gift list, make a holiday relationship list. Write down the names of the special people in your life and next to each name, write something you can do for or with that person that will strengthen your relationship.
- If you are sending holiday cards, include special, individualized notes to everyone you can think of who is grieving this death. Writing the notes will help you mourn and reading the notes will help the recipients heal, too.
- Tell someone a holiday memory o the person who died. Use her/his name and relate as many details as you can remember.
- Buy yourself new bedding a good new pillow.
- Get ready for bed right after dinner. Take your phone off the hook, bathe or shower, listen to soothing music, sip hot herbal tea in bed as you read a good book or favorite magazine.
- Make a list of things you most and least enjoy during the holidays. Make time for the things you enjoy and abandon those you don't.
- Shop somewhere you usually don't. Browse through an antique shop or flea market. Visit an art gallery. Drive to the mall two towns over.
- Pile up mail-order catalogs next to a comfortable chair and spend all day lingering over each and every one.
- If you tend to buy things to fill some emotional need, don't go shopping. Instead, make a list of everything you've purchased in the last six months. Then consider how you feel about those purchases today.
- Ask yourself: Do I feel like giving presents or do I feel like I have to give presents? If the latter, tell your friends an family that you're not up to gift-giving this year and ask that they honor your feelings by not giving you gifts either. With the possible exception of gifts to children, it's OK to skip gift-giving this year.
- Knit, sculpt, paint, write, or cook - whatever medium moves you - for gifts.
- Using cloth from clothing that belonged to the person who died, make throw pillows, quilts, or cuddly bears. These huggable keepsakes are a tangible link to the person who died.
- Tell your friends an family that in lieu of gifts this holiday, you'd like them to write down special memories of the person who died. These notes or letter will become mementos your family will treasure forever.
- Read a poem or a short spiritual piece in memory of the person who died at the holiday table.
- Spend some time listening to your favorite holiday tunes.
- Ways to renew yourself: massage, hike through a forest, go for a drive with no particular destination in mind, go see a movie, get together for lunch with a friend, or go for a long walk.
- Place a single flower in a vase on the table in memory an honor of the person who died.
- Frame small photos of those who have died and use them as part of your holiday centerpiece.
- Choose a special candle in memory of the person who died. Select a large candle that will last for several holiday seasons.
- Bring flowers to the cemetery.
- Spend an afternoon doing something that was meaningful to the person who died.
- Find a holiday memento that belonged to or reminds you of the person who died. During the holidays, display it somewhere you'll see it everyday.
- Go through photos and holiday memorabilia and gather up everything that belonged to or reminds you of the person who died. Photos of him/her during the holidays are particularly nice.
- Place all the photos and trinkets in a special album. You might also write captions describing the circumstances of each item. When it's finished, display the album somewhere everyone can see it. One of your new traditions can be rediscovering the album each holiday season an reminiscing together.
- Decorate your holiday tree with ornaments, keepsakes, and photos of the person who died.
- Holidays are a time of introspection - a time in which we think about what's truly important to us and what gives our lives meaning.
- Plan an early morning breakfast or walk in a location where you can see the sun rise. Have hot chocolate, rolls, and fresh fruit next to a lake.  Make a sunrise ceremony one of your new holiday traditions.
- Watch the stars on a clear evening.
- Plan something you enjoy doing every day - reading, baking, going for a walk - whatever brings you enjoyment.
- Think about what gives your life meaning and what doesn't. Take steps to spend more of your time on the former and less on the latter.
- Do something childish - blow bubbles, go sledding, make a snowman, visit a toy store, or climb a tree.
- What did the person who died love to do? Start a new tradition of doing that thing.
- Shop for small gifts you can give anonymously throughout the holidays. Groceries or meals might be appropriate for those in need. Write notes to accompany the gifts. Tell the recipients how wonderful they are.
- Light therapy is an effective treatment for SAD sufferers. Spend 20 minutes outside each day outside may do the trick.
- Whether or not you usually send holiday cards, plan to do so this year if you have the energy. Thank those who helped you at the time of the death and in the weeks after. Write personalized notes and enclosed them in a holiday card. Include a photo of the person who died and a copy of the obituary.
- What were the favorite holiday foods of the person who died? Continue to prepare and enjoy them as a family to keep their memory alive.
- Write a note to a special someone telling her/him how blessed you feel to have her/him in your life.
- Make a list of short-term goals for the next three months. Include some that relate to mourning (e.g., make a memory book).
- Make a list of long-term goals for the next year. Be both realistic and compassionate with yourself as you consider what's feasible and feels good and what will only add too much stress to your life.
- Rid yourself of some of the tasks and commitments you have so you can take time to mourn and heal.

1 comment:

Rita said...

What a ton of good suggestions to get through the holidays when missing somebody badly. Can be such a difficult time for so many people.