The first Christmas without my mother was agony. Actually, the month before was probably worse than the day itself. Because my mother had been sick between December 6 and January 11, I relived the whole month, which included Christmas and New Year’s Day. I tried to do things that I had done with my mother in hopes of making everything “all right”. But of course, it would never be the same.

Grief causes physical and emotional pain. Baby Boomers have come to expect instant pain relief in this fast paced society. Unfortunately, Baby Boomers will be facing this chapter in their lives in a culture that does not give grief the respect or validation it deserves. Grief is an emotion that our society does not want to discuss.

We have been inundated with expressions such as “get on with life” and “closure” and “getting back to normal.” ┬áNone of these expressions or attitudes helps the grief stricken.

The holidays create even more pain to those grieving. They are a painful reminder of those who are no longer in our lives on a daily basis. What should be a festive and happy time does not feel like it for the grief stricken.

There is an enormous amount of pressure to act “normal” during these holiday times. This seems like an insurmountable task at this time. It is exhausting.

Here are some things that may help you get through these difficult situations:

  1. Give yourself permission to feel whatever it is you feel. If journaling or using a support group or special person generally helps, then make sure you take advantage of them during holiday times.
  2. Keep up any traditions that the deceased person started and you can continue. It helps you feel you are honouring the deceased.
  3. Try to establish new traditions that make you and your family feel good about the holiday or include activities you enjoy.
  4. Talk about your loved one with friends and family and encourage them to share favorite stories with you.
  5. Take care of yourself during this stressful time. Anything that makes you feel better should be done. This could be a long walk, massage, listening to music and getting enough sleep.

Holidays are a difficult time but there are ways to get through them without hiding from the pain. Even though the holidays may not be as celebratory as last year, the days pass and you do survive!

2008 Jane Galbraith

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Jane Galbraith

Jane Galbraith has lived in Burlington, Ontario for many years. She holds a Bachelor of Science Degree in Nursing and has worked in the community health care field since 1976. Her work has included dealing with palliative clients and their bereaved families for the past two decades and also has assisted facilitating grief support groups. As well she has presented to the Bereavement Ontario Network annual meeting, the Canadian Hospice and Palliative Care Conference in 2007, conducted a workshop at the Roswell Park Cancer Institute in September 2009 and presented to the Ontario Palliative Care Association in 2010 and the Peel Chapter of the HRPAH in 2012. More information about Jane, her book, Grief @Work program and articles can be found at Jane was a guest on the radio show Healing the Grieving Heart and discussed Facing Loss and Recovery with hosts, Dr. Gloria and Dr. Heidi Horsley. To listen to this show, click on the following link:

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