In deciding what to share with you I thought of two avenues. One, “Practical Ideas to Help You” get through the season and two, “It Is About You Too”.
NOTE: I have focused on adults, but some of the suggestions and ideas can be taken into consideration when children and grief are a concern. Please remember, children grieve too and may not tell you they are upset, but their behaviour, body language, and perhaps sudden illnesses may all be indicators.
Practical Ideas to Help You …
Prepare ahead of time with something to say if people approach you and ask, “How are you doing?” A few ideas to get you started are;
- FINE … (Fit in Nice Enough)
- As well as can be expected
- Today is a good day, but some days are not so good
- This is a difficult process and I had no idea this is what people go through
Do you ever wonder if they really want to know or
if they are afraid of what you might say?
Take a quiet moment away from everyone before you gather with family and friends to have a cry or a special moment of remembering on your own.
Start a new tradition:
- Light a memory candle for those who are no longer with you
- Buy a special flower that will always be a reminder of your loved one
- Ask each person to share a special memory of your loved one with you
- Have an extra place setting at the table in memory of your loved one “I will tell you that this makes some people very uncomfortable; therefore, you may want to explain yourself first and mention you are aware this may be new and uncomfortable for some. Take the elephant out of the room before it has a chance to enter.”
- Buy or make a special ornament that has meaning for you
Have something to hold onto when you are alone or in a group of people. This will help you focus on something else when you do not want the tears to come full stream.
- Holding onto a warm cup of tea or any thing
- Having a memory rock or something that has special meaning to you that can be rubbed in your hand and no one else is aware of
- Have an exit plan in your mind ahead of time in case you need it to leave the “party”
- Let someone else know you may need their support to get through the event or have them keep an eye on you in case you need them. Sometimes, friends just know what to do
- “Maybe” is an answer to an invite; “Maybe, if I am up to it I will attend”
It is About You Too…
Self-care and self-awareness go hand in hand when grief is a factor. Consider the following;
- Pace yourself
- You have choices
- You are in charge of you
- If in doubt, don’t
- Ask for help
- Delegate responsibilities
- Ask for what you need
- Create balance over the holidays
- Is avoidance an option? Perhaps for some
- It is okay to say “no” or decline an engagement
- It is okay to go for a while and leave when you need to
- It is okay to have some fun J
- Take control of how your day or holiday is going to be
- You can’t do it all and you do not have to do it all
- Sometimes, it is lonelier in a crowd than by yourself
- Sometimes, you sense or feel people are avoiding you and in some cases they are.
- Limit the amount of time you attend a function if you need to
- Have a pajama day and stay at home if you need to
A component I have mentioned is YOU. What is important to you? How can you make this holiday season the best it can be for you?
- Does this mean time alone or time with family and friends?
- Can you invite friends over to your home?
- Can you participate in small events even if they might be a first time without your loved one? No matter how long the loss has been, the missing them is there.
- If you are a person who remembers what it was like when you first experienced your loss, perhaps you can help someone else get through this time.
Ask friends to be patient with you. Let them know this grief is new for you and you do not have it all figured out yet. You may look good on the outside, but that is what we do…give the impression we are okay, but in all reality we are still falling apart on the inside.
If you are a supportive person for a grieving individual, be honest and realistic with what you offer to do for someone or do with them. Do not over promise and under perform.
“Sometimes, just knowing someone is there if you need them is enough”
All my best this holiday season,
Barbara J. Saunders