“Goodbyes are only for those who love with their eyes. Because for those who love with their heart and soul, there is no separation.” Rumi
Recently, I attended a bereavement group meeting with my sister who is grieving the loss of her husband John. While I will not disclose the private conversations that took place that night, I will say that everyone was struggling with getting through the holiday season without their loved one.
While the holiday season is a time for good cheer, joy and merriment for many, it is also a time when some are anxious to say good riddance as they count the days until it’s all over. For those who have lost a loved one, the holidays can understandably be the most painful time of the year.
One of the things I said during the bereavement meeting that night was you can’t come out of it unless you go through it. How then do you get through it? How can you get through the holiday season? How is it possible to walk down city sidewalks amid the holiday crowds when you don’t feel much like doing anything? For one thing, it’s important to remember that the anticipation of the holiday season is worse than the day or event itself. During the days leading up to the holiday event, we often feel the stress brought on by all the unrealistic holiday expectations and gatherings. Here are some tips to help you get through the holiday season:
1. Allow yourself to feel whatever it is you feel. Your feelings are your own and there is no right or wrong way to grieve. So be honest with yourself and allow yourself to grieve however you want. Take control of the situation. You don’t have to force yourself to be cheerful just because the holidays are here. If you don’t feel like attending a holiday party, don’t go. If you want to attend, then go. Allow yourself the opportunity to feel your pain and sadness but also allow yourself the opportunity to feel happiness and joy. Try to remind yourself that your loved one would want you to be happy.
2. Don’t expect too much of yourself. The holidays are full of unrealistic expectations. Don’t feel like you have to put up a Christmas tree, for example. If you are having a bad day and don’t want to go out, that’s OK. If you are having a good day and feel like you can manage buying a few gifts, that’s OK, too. Don’t try to do too much. If you usually have the holiday dinner at your house and don’t feel much like cooking, delegate it to someone else. Your family and friends will understand.
3. Ask for help. During the holidays what was once festive and light can now feel dreary and heavy. If you’re having a difficult time and need help, ask for it. Many people are more than willing to offer their assistance.One of the things that was discussed during the bereavement group meeting was how family and friends don’t know what to say and do. While some people may not call because they are afraid to say the wrong thing it doesn’t mean that they are not willing to help when asked.
4. Find ways to honor your loved one. One of the ways that I honor my lost loved ones at Christmas and every day of the year is by lighting candles in their memory. I also talk to my loved ones acknowledging their presence. It’s my way of saying that I know that they are still with me.
There are countless ways to remember your loved one so just do what feels right for you. Here are a few more suggestions:
a. Have everyone share a special memory involving your loved one.
b. Plan a day doing something that your loved one liked to do. For instance, go to his or her favorite restaurant.
c. Donate a gift in your loved one’s memory.
5. Take care of YOU! No matter how much your family and friends might want to help you, they don’t truly know what you need or how you are feeling. And your grief does not give you an excuse to ignore your own needs. In fact, it’s just the opposite. If you need to take some time off from work, do it. Try not to ignore whatever it is you are feeling. Pay attention to your body. If you’re feeling tired, don’t overdo it. Take a nap or go to bed early. If you’re not feeling well, go see a doctor. Perhaps, a complete physical will do you good.
6. Remember, love never dies. As an author and afterlife researcher, I can tell you without a doubt that your loved ones are still with you in spirit. The love that you shared is still there and will always be there. Your loved ones are still part of your life and are aware of everything that is going on here on earth.
As an example, my husband’s friend Rich died in the World Trade Center attacks of 9/11. This year we attended a high school play featuring Rich’s son in the lead role as Macheath in The Threepenny Opera. In October I attended a spirit circle featuring two psychic mediums, Dean and Stuart, from England. Dean stood directly in front of me that evening and told me Rich was there. He told me that Rich was saying that I attended a very important event for his son recently and he wanted to thank me for that.
Dean was unknowingly referring to the play that my husband and I attended. Keep in mind that this was not public knowledge so Dean could not have read about this anywhere. My point in telling you this story is to remind you wholeheartedly that love never dies. Our loved ones are still with us and are very much aware of what is going on in our lives.
Everyone grieves in their own way. Do whatever you feel is best for you. Allow yourself time to deal with the pain but also allow yourself time to be happy. Our loved ones in heaven do want us to experience joy once again.
Whatever you do; wherever you go this holiday season, reach within and feel the love in your heart. When you do, you’ll realize your loved one never truly left you.