08 Dec Grief During the Holidays: 3 Steps to Find Peace, Strength and Joy
I texted my spouse this morning. Here’s what I wrote verbatim:
“Feeling very aware of today. It was the day my mom confirmed her decision by not going to dialysis. Yesterday was the day you went to the hospital to help her make her decision. Tonight is her last meal. Tomorrow, I follow her in the ambulance to hospice facility. Sunday and Monday, I sit by her side. Monday, around 4:30 she will have taken her last breath”.
My mother died nearly a year ago. About six months after her death, I drove past the nursing home she once lived in and felt my first moment of peace. I felt relief that she no longer lived in that nursing home. Relief that she no longer suffered.
I’ve felt increasing strength since that peaceful surrender in June but as fall approached, I knew I would feel heartache again.
Grief works that way. Never linear. Unpredictable. Sudden at times. Always with you either as a distant life companion or an all consuming experience.
For the second half of this year, grief had receded into the background of my life but showed up full force just days before Thanksgiving and again today.
Below I share with you three ways that I am managing my own grief. If you have experienced loss during the holidays (or any other time of year), consider practicing these three steps.
You do not have to take care of others in your grief. Honesty means expressing what feels real for you. It means not pretending to feel anything other than what you feel. You do not have to spare your friends and family. You simply have to take care of yourself. Often times, honest expression of grief releases it’s heaviness and makes room in your heart for joy.
Stay Connected with Others
It’s easy to slip away, avoid others and shut yourself in during your grief process. Now more than ever is the time to stay connected to your friends, family and loved ones. Allow others to lift you up, make you laugh, treat you to a meal, hug you and most importantly, love you. Connection with others is the greatest gift that you can give yourself.
Give Yourself Permission to Feel Joy
I know that I’ve had moments where I felt that if I expressed happiness, that I was somehow not honoring the loss of my mom. NOT TRUE! If you feel this way, course correct right away. We have permission to feel joy and sadness, abundant love along with painful loss. This is simply our human experience.
Grief at anytime during the year challenges our souls but even more so when holiday “joy” becomes a concentrated focus in our culture. Know that you are not alone in your grief, loss or mourning. But remember, you are also more than your grief.
Here’s to celebrating life, light and love in all its forms.
Here’s to you, mom.