Living Through Loss During the Holidays

Since Thanksgiving, I have had several friends who have lost parents or close family members.  There’s nothing worse than grieving during the holidays.  Here are some ways to get through it — from my own experience in losing my mother and turning into the ultimate Grinch.

Tips for Grieving

  • Take it day by day, minute by minute. Don’t think beyond today. It’s easier that way.
  • It’s a rollercoaster. You will feel a ton of emotions – anger one minute, crying the next, laughing for a moment. It’s totally normal although it feels weird. You’re working through all those memories and emotions at the same time, and that’s how it manifests itself. Take it one step at a time, and allow yourself to feel whatever it is you are feeling without judgment.
  • If is the most evil word in the English language. You may be feeling “if” I did xyz the outcome would have been different. When you feel that, make a list of the things you think you “should” have done, and list the things you DID do. It may be longer than you think — especially if you cared for an ailing parent, relative or loved one.
  • It’s OK to be mad at God. You may ask, why did God put me through this? Why did I have to watch my loved one suffer? Why did it have to end this way? We never get to know why. Being mad at God is normal in the short term. But know this…in the next few years, you will see a shift (hopefully positive) in the lives that your loved one touched. People will make decisions to honor the person; people will feel emboldened to make decisions because of the person. Your loved one’s spirit resides with you to guide you in times of need. Literally I have heard my mother’s voice in times of need, so I speak truth in this. It is not the same as having the person there, but it is a really strong force. This never answers the question why…but our lives are intertwined as part of a greater plan.
  • Have compassion for yourself. If you were a primary caregiver, your compassion has been focused on your loved one, for their pain and suffering. Now, it is time to take care of yourself. It is time for you to heal from the stress, the pain and go through the grieving process. Turn the compassion that you sent outwards inwards to heal yourself.
  • Take it easy on yourself. There is no standard for grieving; you do what you can when you can. Don’t force yourself to be somewhere emotionally where you are not. If the thought of going to a party, smiling and being festive makes you sick, don’t go! If you get to a party and can’t handle it, it’s ok to leave.
  • Everyone grieves differently. Men and women can be different. My husband went back to work the next week after losing his mother; another male friend of mine went to work the next day after losing his mother. I needed a few days and still was not in good shape.
  • Everyone takes their own time to recover. Some say a year later “you should be over this”. Says who? Everyone heals differently. I was very close with my mother, so losing her was really hard. I’ve had other friends who had a strained relationship with their family, but healed even more slowly because things were left unsaid.
  • Relinquish control. As strong people (especially as women), we usually have control over work and our lives. It’s rare we have something that we totally can’t control. Health, life and emotions we cannot control no matter how hard we try. So just let go. It’s easier said than done, but give it a shot.
  • Don’t underestimate the power of a funeral. Funerals are more than just a ceremony. It’s the hardest moment in your life; but it helps bring closure. During the funeral, you will hear things about your loved one that will surprise you, make you laugh, touch you, and that will stay with you forever.
  • Each day will be different. Some days you can get out bed, others you want to die. Real talk. But it does get better eventually.
  • Friends will let you down, and kindness will come from the strangest places. Your friends (especially if they have not had a loss of someone close) may draw away from you, because they are afraid of saying the wrong thing. And there are other random folks who you are not close with who will totally lift you up. It’s not their fault or a reflection on your friendship.
  • Get therapy if you need it. Don’t be afraid to talk about it to someone who is objective and not involved. They won’t get sick of hearing you say the same thing over and over again.
  • Life will never be the same. But you will find a new normal.

This post is dedicated to the memory of my mother, Merle Pearson who absolutely loved Christmas.  I also dedicate this post to all who are grieving this season. I’m sending you a huge hug.



4 thoughts on “Living Through Loss During the Holidays

  1. Shirley Symes

    Merle Pearson was my best friend at Montefiore hospital. Worked together in the pharmacy. My mentor and close confident . She laughed and cried with me. Encouraged me during rough time. Will always miss her. She raised you well to be an independent, confident your lady. So proud of you, Melba.

  2. Pingback: #TBT: Grief During the Holidays – The Resident Legal Diva

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