With this week being the official changing of the season from Summer to Autumn, I am aware that the holidays are coming, and I'm not sure I'm ready.
"Sometimes our own high expectations of the holidays make the pain and frustration more acute. We have a mental picture of how things ought to be. Often, however, those expectations are based more on how we wish things to be rather than reality. We must remember that we are grieving and we must be kind and gentle with ourselves, and realistic about what we expect." -"Getting Through the Holidays..." Darcie D. Sims
This morning I was talking on the phone with Shelley Forney (our MLM Assoc. Director), and she shared that she has been
struggling to be healthy due to lingering allergies and an overall lack of energy. Normally, Shelley is a high-spirited, energetic and enthusiastic gal, and she shared that she realizes that something of what she is experiencing is because it's "that time of year" for her, since the loss of her daughter, Erica, in November of 2008. She said "this seems to happen to me every year around this time." And, so we talked about how we have come to expect a change in our emotions, as we approach the holiday season.
We also talked about how we have come to realize that though it is important for us to continue our cherished holiday traditions, it is also important for us to be patient and realistic with ourselves, because sometimes our own expectations based on past hoildays can place too much pressure on us. We encouraged one another to keep things as simple and manageable as possible, being patient and compassionate with ourselves and with others.
Perhaps, this is not the time of year that sets you in a kind of emotional "funk," but we know from the past 7 years of companioning with grieving moms, that the upcoming holiday season can intensify our emotions and put pressure on us, affecting our health and sense of well-being.
You are on my mind, in my heart and prayers, so I thought I'd share some helpful ideas from a grief-related resource by Darcie D. Sims "Getting Through the Holidays When You've Lost a Loved One" that will hopefuly provide a measure of comfort and encouragement, as you prepare your heart and home for this special "season."
*Be patient and realistic (with yourself and others).
*Do what you can and let that be enough.
*Plan ahead - make a list and don't be afraid to scratch off items that don't seem to fit this year.
*Keep traditions alive in ways that makes sense given the new reality of your life.
*Temper your expectations with compassion and gentleness (for yourself and others).
*Allow yourself to "feel" the emotions connected to the holidays.
*Allow the tears to come, but look for joy in the pain. Don't deny yourself the gift of healing tears, laughter or joy.
*Focus on the "reasons for the seasons" - let these seasons of hopeful anticipation touch the yearning within your heart for joy and peace, and the final reunion with your child, and all the loved ones who have gone on before you.
*Make love what you remember and focus on the most.
I would also like to encourage you to join one of our Loss Groups (if you live locally) or a support group in your area, during the holiday season. We have found that being in the company of others who are on a personal journey through grief can be especially helpful, during this time of the year.
The holiday season can be an emotionally challenging, but also healing, if we slowly and gently allow ourselves to move from focusing on our loss to focusing on the gifts of life, family and friends.
You are all in my heart and prayers, precious "moms like me." Please don't hesitate to contact me, if you need encouragement, help or support. Don't suffer alone - find someone to help you.
With Faith, Hope and Love,