• Excerpts from an Awesome Book

    Posted on December 20, 2011 by Cynthia Gossman in Grieving Through the Holidays.

    Excerpts (first paragraphs) from:

    How Will I Get Through The Holidays?  12 Ideas for Those Whose Loved One Has Died James E. Miller


    Whatever your age, whoever had died, whatever the cause of death, holidays lived in the absence oif someone dear can be very difficult times.  Customary routines are ended, never to be repeated in quite the same way.  Easy-going laughter, once so natural, may become awkward or even altogether missing.  Gift-giving, once so filled with fun, may seem somehow empty and sad.  Familiar songs, once so comforting, may catch in your throat or bring tears to your eyes….. con’t. 

    1.  Accept the likelihood of your pain. – When you’re facing your first holiday without the one who has been so close to you, a good starting point is with this awareness:  chances are it will be a painful time.  You may wonder how you will ever make it through…… con’t.
    2. Feel whatever it is you feel. – You may be learning what many others have learned:  some people will try to hurry you through your grief.  Some may insist on continually cheering  you up.  Others may give you advice about what you should and shouldn’t do or about how you should and shouldn’t feel…… con’t.
    3. Express your emotions. – Acknowledging your feelings to yourself is one step, but another step is just as important:  you must find a release for what is going on inside you……con’t.
    4. Plan ahead. – Perhaps the most practical advice is this: plan your day before it arrives.  Realizing that this year’s holidays, and maybe several years’ holidays, will not unfold the way you’d wish, you can make plans to do the best you can with the circumstances you face.  You can prepare yourself to deal with what you think will be the more difficult situations.  You can give thought to how you will cope with those parts of your celebration that are especially emotion-laden, or how you will handle those tasks or roles that were the special responsibility of your loved one.  You can ask others to help you, both in thinking about what you’ll do and in carrying out your ideas….. con’t.
    5. Take charge where you can. – There is much in your life, of course, that has moved beyond your command.  The loss you’ve experienced and the resulting inescapable changes have robbed you of a power you may have taken for granted.  Yet there are some actions you can take and some decisions you can make that are within your authority.  Begin to take control of your life in specific ways, even if those ways seem small…. con’t.
    6. Turn to others for support. – The holiday time, when emotions naturally run high and memories are especially strong, is a difficult time to be entirely alone.  People who are bereaved can benefit greatly from the support and assistance of people who understand and care.  Don’t forget that often these people not only want to help, but they need to help.  For that is one way they can work through their own feelings – for the person who has died, for you and your loss, and for their own reactions toward death and grief in general.  In other words, by allowing others to help you, you can help them…..con’t.
    7. Be gentle with yourself. – One of the best things you can do is treat yourself lovingly.  The holiday season has stresses and demands all its own.  Add the extreme strain bereavement may cause and overload easily becomes a problem….. con’t.
    8. Remember to remember. – You may feel comfort in finding specific ways to link yourself with the one who died.  One man began carrying a smooth stone in his pocket that he would quietly hold when he wanted, a ready reminder of his love for his deceased son.  Another found solace in carrying a small cross.  One woman wore a necklace that had belonged to her mother, while another woman, a writer, began using her father’s favorite pen after he died.  If you wish to use a linking object, you might select something that belonged to your loved one, or something that was made or given by her or him.  You might carry it, wear it, use it, or place it in easy sight… con’t.
    9. Search out and count your blessings. – Remain as open as you are able to what you have to appreciate and to what may be given you during the coming holiday season.  While you may regularly feel sad or listless or alone, you don’t have to be limited to only those feelings.  You have other possibilities as well…… con’t.
    10. Do something for others. – It only makes sense that people in grief can become centered on themselves.  Their loss feels so overwhelming and the tasks facing them seem so demanding, they may focus their attention almost exclusively on what has happened and how it affects them.  Perhaps you have experienced that yourself.  Early in the grief process, such a response is to be expected.  Yet after awhile it is helpful to place some of your attention outside yourself.  One way of doing that is by doing something for others…. con’t.
    11. Give voice to your soul. – A time of grief is a time for your soul.  Anytime you suffer a serious loss, the spiritual side of you will be a part of whatever happens.  You may not use words like “soul” or “spirit”.  You may not refer to the vocabulary or the beliefs of a particular faith.  But some inner part of you is still involved, a part that is other than you body or your mind or your feelings….. con’t.
    12. Harbor hope. – You may wish your awful pain would go away.  You may be tired of feeling tired, or depressed about your ongoing depression.  You may wonder if your grief will ever end, if life will ever return with the zest you once knew.  Good news awaits you.  Almost all people who undergo the major kind of loss you are experiencing recover their original interest in life again……con’t .
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