I realise that for many of you, this past year has brought an unexpected twist in your life journey. I am always very conscious that when someone you care about dies, your whole world changes. Your world looks and feels different, and with it this Christmas. For everyone else, it is the season to be jolly; it’s the most wonderful time of the year. But you may not feel the same about things this Christmas.
“When someone you care about dies, your whole world changes.”
Today, I have three offerings for you … gifts for a grieving Christmas. The first is given for YOU, the second has to do with your loved one, and the third concerns your family and friends.
My first Gift is for YOU. Maybe you are facing this Christmas season with dread. Here are a few suggestions:
- Recognise that this Christmas is different.
- Plan ahead. Decide what YOU want to do. Act rather than react.
- Avoid “shoulds and “oughts”.
- Re-examine your priorities.
- Make the changes you think are best.
- Take responsibility for your own happiness.
- Look after yourself. Don’t abandon healthy habits
- Be compassionate with yourself if things are not perfect this year.
The next gift focuses on your loved one. They may be gone, but I am sure they will be very much on your mind.
- Acknowledge your loved one’s presence.
- Create a special tribute to your loved one. (Involve children in this one if you can.)
- Stay in touch with your feelings.
- Be honest about your feelings.
- Don’t be afraid to relive your memories
- Let the light of the years you spent together shine on the event rather than letting the death cast its shadow on the years.
My final gift has to do with others around you like family and friends. Remember, they may be grieving too.
- Balance solitude and sociability
- Ask for and accept help.
- Set differences aside
- Learn to say “no”
- Take a break from things
- Try to find something positive in your life. How can you turn your situation into something positive and meaningful?
- Take care of children
- Try to make others happy
- Remember, there will be OTHER Christmas’s
Finally we need to face the future with hope. There’s a little verse in the Christmas story of the Wise Men that often goes unnoticed. After finding the baby in Bethlehem, they returned home “by a different route”. They had to find a different road forward than the way they had come. When you have experienced bereavement, you suddenly find that life has taken on a whole new direction. And we find ourselves and our lives having to go on in a whole new direction. Sometimes in life we have to find new ways to get to where we need to be.
There is not enough darkness in the whole universe to hide the light of even one candle.
Perhaps you face this Christmas with some apprehension, and, this year, you feel like the light has gone out of your life. Nothing seems quite right, and you wonder if you have the strength to go on. But my friends, no matter how dark your situation, remember one thing. There is not enough darkness in the whole universe to hide the light of even one candle. Even when there is a flicker of hope, that spark overcomes the darkness. It may not banish it completely, but it is never all dark as long as there remains one glimmer of hope.
So come on, and light a candle. Light a candle in memory of your loved one, but also light a candle for yourself … to indicate that you believe there is hope for you to find your way through the darkness, even though life has taken an unwelcome turn and you are heading home in a different direction than the one you expected or even wanted.
So, this Christmas season, hold on to what is important.
- Celebrate the person’s life as well as acknowledging their death
- Don’t allow looking back at the past to spoil what you have in the present.
- Enjoy what you HAVE as well as grieving what you’ve LOST?
- Believe that there are reasons to go on, even though you may not see what they are right now.
- Believe in people, and in life, in love and laughter, and in hope!
- Believe in yourself, that your determination will help get you through.
- Believe that no matter how difficult your circumstances that life is important and can still be meaningful.
- Believe in a brighter tomorrow, and in possibilities beyond even your bravest dreams.
You will be surprised how that flickering flame of hope will continue to burn. You will make it through, even though it may not be easy. Your supply of strength and patience may be low, but hang in, because no matter what has shattered your hopes or your dreams or even broken your heart, you are not beyond repair.
You will find this article and other meaningful resources on Coping with Christmas on Dr Bill’s website at www.griefjourney.com