How To Get Through The Holidays While You Are Grieving

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The holidays can be an especially difficult time to navigate when you are grieving. Here are a few of my favorite ideas for creating peace and bringing comfort for this time.

Essential Advice:

BREATHE - wherever you are, whatever you are feeling or doing, take a moment to simply breathe. Be present to your breath as it moves in and out of your body. Encourage your breath to come slowly and deeply.

  • With each in-breath silently say the word Love and with each exhale silently say Peace.
  • When you feel especially stressed or overwhelmed by sorrow, practice the 4,7,8 breathing method. (breathe in to the count of 4, hold to the count of 7 and exhale to the count of 8). You can watch a tutorial of this method with Dr. Andrew Weil online.

10 Tips To Ease Grief During The Holidays 

  1. Keep it simple. If you regularly deck all the halls and host parties for the multitudes, this is a time to simplify. It is okay to cut back and give yourself permission to do only what feels the most meaningful.
  2. Practice self care every day. Take walks, exercise, eat well, indulge (mindfully), watch your favorite movies, take warm baths with epsom salts, splurge on new pajamas and comfy slippers. Giving to yourself is never selfish—it is vital to your ability to heal and be well.
  3. Communicate with your family and friends. Send a group email or letter letting everyone in your trusted circle know how they can help you. Maybe it is with decorating or cooking. Maybe you would like extra time in solitude or need their companionship each day. Maybe you need everyone to know and understand that this year you need to be able to change your mind about everything at the last minute. People in your life love you and want to support you. Communicating your needs and desires makes it easier for others to be there in a way that is actually helpful to you.
  4. Rest. Grief is exhausting work. Grief requires an enormous amount of emotional and physical energy. Honor your grief by resting as much as you need to, whenever you need to.
  5. Allow yourself your feelings, whether it is anger, sadness, intense grief, or laughter and mirth. Whatever you are feeling, it is okay—even if it doesn’t feel good. Allow the big grief waves to come and go. Remind yourself that all feelings are temporary. Allowing yourself to be present to your feelings helps your grief to move and transform.   
  6. Include those you are grieving in your celebrations. Set a place at the table for them with a candle and their picture. Donate to a cause they loved. Treat yourself to something they would have given you. Buy something for them that you would have bought them and donate it to a charity or give it to a friend. Set up an altar with their picture and sacred objects.
  7. Talk about your loved one. Your relationship with your loved one goes on. Talking about your memories of them is important. Find people who encourage you to share your memories and spend time with those folks.
  8. Surround yourself with the people who bring you peace: those that understand you, listen to you, and support you. You know who these people are because you feel uplifted and better after being in their presence. If you leave the company of others and feel extra exhausted and irritable, it may be a sign those are not the best people to spend your time with right now.
  9. Be in nature. Notice the trees, the water, the landscape around you and breathe in the fresh air. Being in nature can be a balm to the grieving heart. Allow the expansiveness of the sky to hold you and your hurts.
  10. Reach out for help if you are feeling overwhelmed. Find a grief counselor or join a support group that can help you as you are coping with the intensity of your feelings through this potent time.

I hope you find these ideas helpful. Please know I am here if you want to talk or would like my support as you move through this season.

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How Long Will This Hurt?

How Long Will This Hurt? (Melinda Laus)

When someone you love dies, the pain can be cruel.

Unrelenting. Possibly bigger than anything you have ever felt or experienced before.

It can feel like it will never end, never change, never get better.

When you are in this place, and your pain is so big and you are overwhelmed, you must still reach out.

It is hard enough to go through this grief -  do not go through it without help.

And still, even with help and support, you must be asking yourself,

How long will this go on?

The simple answer is that it will not always be as intense as it is in this moment for you.

The intensity and duration lessens. It changes.

But it never really goes away.

Not completely.

Remember that your sadness is the other side of the coin of your love. How deeply you loved is also how deeply this will hurt.

Grief is like waves on the ocean. Sometimes the waves are enormous and crashing; pure power.

Other times, the ocean is calm. The waves are mere ripples in comparison. But always there is movement; there is the rise and fall of tides, storms as well as calm.

Grief is very much this way.

I remember early days when the waves overtook me; it felt like I was stuck in a constant storm.

Every day was a new experience in loss - something new to grieve. Each day brought new ways to notice the impact of David’s death and how it was ripping my life apart.

I couldn’t grocery shop, get a haircut, sit in traffic, or talk with a friend without a powerful wave crashing on my inner shores. I charted my days by how long I could go without collapsing into sobs and pulled under by the current of my own emotions.

I judged my own progress based on how long I went between waves. As if not feeling more meant success.  

I see now that my success was in allowing myself to be pulled with these waves and guided by my emotions. I made progress each time I gave myself permission to feel the depth of my sorrow, to release my tears and allow the pain of loss to work its powers of  transformation on me.      

And now after years of this ebb and flow - storm and calm; I am still here. Still answering to the pull of the tides and the wisdom of my emotions to guide me forward.

There are fewer and fewer storms reaching the shores of my life.

And yet the storms still find their way to my shores - even now.

I no longer wail at the seas for storming or at this pain for once again visiting.

I see now there is a purpose to these feelings -  to this release.

There is no getting over this loss. There is only folding it into my life.

The beautiful memories, the incredible love that we shared and the sorrow. It will hurt forever because he will be gone forever.

Yet, there is still room for the hope of something beautiful again.