“Grief is the price you pay for love,” said therapist Carol Nevin at the December meeting of the Widows List Group at the Northbrook, Ill., Senior Center.

Carol was there to discuss “Grieving During the Holidays,” and her visit was perfectly timed for Marilyn, one member who lost her husband six months ago and still feels “disoriented.”  Marilyn said that confusion frustrates her more than anything else, because she always felt in control of her life.

“And that’s perfectly normal, ” Carol assured us. “We all like control and predictability and we don’t like change, but death shows us that we have little control over life.”

Carol also touched on another common part of grief that Marilyn’s experiencing. You begin to “read into” others’ minds. You wonder if they really want you to come to a holiday party. You ask yourself if you were rude to someone. You aren’t sure whether or not you should bring holiday gifts to an event. In short, you make yourself crazy over nothing. There’s  no point in making up other people’s scripts, said this therapist.

One final problem Marilyn faces is that her children won’t talk about her husband and all the fun they had together at holiday time, and she desperately wants them to. “But they’re afraid it will make me cry, ” she said.

“Then tell them how you feel,” Carol advised. “Explain that it’s normal for you to cry, but still you want to talk about him, and remember him, and you need their support to keep those joyous memories alive.”

One other suggestion Carol offered for getting through the holidays is to keep old traditions alive, but make some small changes. For example, sit at different places around the table for holiday dinner, and invite some new guests who also are alone.

And always remember that the nicest thing you can do for yourself is to do something nice for others.

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Sandra Pesmen

Sandra Pesmen

Sandra Pesmen, host of www.widowslist.com, also writes the weekly DR.JOB column syndicated by Career News Service. A member of The Chicago Journalism Hall of Fame and The University of Illinois Media Alumni Hall of Fame, Ms. Pesmen is author of “DR. JOB’s Complete Career Guide,“ and “Writing for the Media: Public Relations and the Press.” A reporter, features writer and editor, this business journalist was features editor of Crain’s Chicago Business from its inception in 1978 to 1990, when she became corporate features editor for its parent, Crain Communications Inc. She also wrote the monthly Executive Woman column in North Shore magazine in suburban Chicago for many years. Previously, she was a reporter and features writer for the Chicago Daily News.

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