Halloween is behind us, and we all know what that means. Here come the holidays. If you are grieving, this will be a difficult time for you. What to do, where to go, how do you cope? Take my advice, and don’t try to re-invent the wheel. Instead, make use of the lessons learned by others. Take advantage of the experiences shared in books, on websites, and through support groups. Not everything you discover will work for you – but eventually you will grasp enough that does.
I am saddened to say that when it comes to bereavement, I am a seasoned veteran. I lost my son Ryan to suicide in June of 2002, so I now have eleven Christmas seasons under my belt, and feel there is some value in the lessons I have learned. Most of the actions I took, were motivated by the ideas and words of people who crossed my path. These lessons aren’t just for the holidays – but what better time to put them to work!
Lesson #1: Channel the Pain of Your Grief into a Productive Outlet.
Early in my grief, I attended an “Out of the Darkness Community Walk”. This is an event designed to bring Suicide Survivors together, for support and fundraising. There are several things I remember about that day, but one thing in particular always comes to mind. It was something that the event co-coordinator’s husband said during his welcome speech. Addressing the walkers, he’d said, “Don’t waste your grief”. Those words stuck with me, and in the days and weeks that followed, I used this phrase to motivate me. My diligence paid off, and after much time and effort, I wrote and published a book that provided direction and tools for the bereaved. How can you channel your pain into something productive? Why not take some time during the holidays to explore your creative skills? Once you discover what they are, you can seek out a way to put them to good use! Let this be your incentive for the approaching New Year.
Lesson #2: Use the Buddy System – It Works.
Somewhere during your journey, you will come to the realization that we are all connected. People need people in order to live, learn and grow. During bereavement, having support is especially important. Seek out a support group or enlist the help of a grief counselor. There is great comfort in finding a place where you can share your feelings with others, without the fear of being judged. Sometimes, just having someone to listen, is enough to get us moving in the right direction. There is strength in numbers, even if it is just one person other than yourself. So find yourself a grief partner, and start working on a plan for Thanksgiving – together.
Lesson #3: You Must Take Action.
Begin by taking the term “action” literally. Put your body into motion: clean the house, walk the dog, go to the gym. Anything that creates physical motion helps to restore our energy and clear the mind. When the ability to focus improves, it is easier to take the next step – which is to apply the lessons learned by others and simply follow their path. Grief is a process, so treat it like one. Take one day, one action, one lesson at a time. Soon, you will be utilizing the tools you feel comfortable with, providing the ability to move your life forward. Keep in mind – “The longest journey begins with a single step.”
Lesson #4: Healing Takes Time.
Our society is one that wants instant gratification and results. We may be able to force ourselves through many things – but bereavement isn’t one of them. Instead of fighting this fact – consider instead: How you will spend that time?
We experience time in 3 ways: Past, Present, and Future. You cannot live in, nor change the Past – so whenever you find yourself dwelling there – force yourself back into the Present. What can you do in the present moment to help you to feel better? Call a friend, take a walk, read a book, bake, golf, shop…your possibilities are endless. Don’t put all of these actions into the Future – because you can’t live there either. So, Instead of telling yourself ” I’ll do it tomorrow”, pick one thing you can do TODAY. Focusing on the present doesn’t meant we can’t enjoy our memories; those will always be with us…it is just a mechanism designed to remind us that all of our work is done in the present. We cannot create a future, by clinging to the past.
Help yourself stay in the present by discovering the small joys that surround you. Recognize and embrace the signs provided by your loved ones spirit: Butterflies, music, rainbows, feathers and orbs in your photographs. These are a just few of the tactics they employ to get our attention. If you are not in the moment – you may miss them. Let these loving touches infuse you with happiness and allow them to open your heart and mind to the healing that awaits you.
Lesson #5: Change Your Thinking, Change Your Life.
The continuous loop of life and death is as old as the universe itself; as human beings, we have weathered the heartbreak and pain of loss for centuries – as we will in the days to come. Allow this truth to provide the courage needed to transform your life. This holiday season, when the pain of loss threatens to take you under, try to remember this: Our Words, Our Actions, and Our Time – belong to us and are controlled by us. Don’t waste your grief by letting it take control over you; take back the reins! In the words of Henry Ford, “Whether you think you can or think you can’t; either way – you are right”. As the process of bereavement unfolds, you will learn lessons of your own. Let those be the gifts you share with others – when the next holiday season rolls around.
See more helpful articles written by Sally Grablick: http://www.opentohope.com/author/sally-grablick/