And so this is Christmas…well maybe it’s not Christmas Day yet, but if you’re grieving it’s already too close. Getting through the holidays without a loved one is just one of the many challenges that you will face in the first year following a loss. Actually there are so many challenges in the first year that it’s impossible to take them all in at one time. Something that I hear often after people have experienced the death of a loved one is that they have found out for the first time what it really means to grieve…like drowning in a pain that they think may never end and that there are no maps to help guide them through.
And so what should you do at Christmas time? There’s no right answer. Follow what’s in your heart, but be careful not to place unreasonable expectations on yourself. If you feel like running away to Colorado to sit in the famous hot springs, read books, eat chocolate and cry, then go for it…that may be all the Christmas you can handle this year. But if you are going to stay home, why not make a list of things that are the most important things to do and concentrate on them? Do you need to make ten different kinds of cookies or will two kinds be enough this year? Do you need to do all of that Christmas shopping or has a friend offered to help? Do you need to make all those visits, or will making some phone calls suffice this year? People will understand. Do you need to go to all of those Christmas parties? If you do go, think about driving yourself in case you need to make an early exit.
Consider joining a bereavement group…even though your first reaction may be to resist that suggestion, you would find it helpful. You will find out that you’re not the only person who is alone, who is lost, in shock and going through the pain. You will find that your emotions are validated, you can listen to others and you can cry…it’s a safe place. What you will find is a group of folks who have been where you are and have decided to stay on to walk beside others in their journey.