Today, on Cyber Monday, I won’t be shopping. I will be attending the funeral of my neighbor who, at 64 years of age, was working in his yard and died. His death was sudden and unexpected. I wished him Happy Thanksgiving before I left to visit family and a few hours later he collapsed in his yard. I will never see or speak to him again. His wife never saw it coming. Now, she will face the holidays without her husband of 40 years. So sad.
When I was on Janet Parshall’s radio show a few weeks ago, so many of the calls were about loss during the holidays. So for all of us who have lost a loved one during this time, here are some tips to help us get through this time, grieve, remember, but not get stuck in our grief.
1) Grieve. Acknowledge the loss and allow the feelings to come. So many things can trigger grief during this time–music, commercials, photographs, etc. The year my mom died just before Christmas, I remember baking and suddenly feeling overwhelmed. I needed to ask my mom a question about the baking and I couldn’t. For whatever reason, this hit me hard and I started to cry. I realized that so much of my mom’s contribution to the holidays was her incredible baking. Baking triggered the memory.
2) Attend a support group if it would be helpful. This is no time to be strong and go it alone. Grief needs to be shared. Find people who can listen and grieve with you.
3) Reach out to someone in need. One of the best antidotes to feeling down and saddened is to do something for someone else. Take an angel off the Angel tree, volunteer in a soup kitchen, visit a shelter or hospital, participate in a church activity or community event. Giving to others takes your mind off yourself and improves your mood.
4) Resist the urge to compare your situation to others. It’s easy to look at people celebrating and feel deprived or resentful. Don’t go there. Anger will come as part of the grieving process, but don’t allow that anger to move to resentment.
5) Have an exit strategy if you become overwhelmed. Find a quiet room in a family get together, leave the church sanctuary for a side room to cry, etc.
6) Honor the memory of the person. Talk about the person rather than avoiding the loss. In our family, we talk about mom’s pies and how much we miss them, the sound of her laughter, the love for her grandkids, etc. Share a favorite story. Laugh about funny moments. This helps keep the memories alive.
7) If the loss is fresh, don’t push yourself. Do as little or as much as you feel you can handle. There is no right way to handle grief. Pay attention to your physical life–sleep, eating well and resting.
8) Allow yourself moments of joy and laughter without feeling guilty. There will be moments of joy and laughter. Allow them to come. You can’t sustain grief 24/7 or your body will be too stressed. Sometimes a light distraction like a funny movie can even help.
9) Remind yourself that this too shall pass. The intensity of grief lessens with time. Time does heal. As the months go by, you will feel stronger and better, but it does take time.
10) Comfort yourself with God’s Word. God is a present help in time of trouble. He knows our grief and our sorrows and promises to comfort us. Ask Him to help you through this difficult time.