Posts tagged holidays
Posts tagged holidays
Wondermark #895; In which a Holiday is envied
“If you ask me to recite the story of Jesus’ birth that I’ve gleaned from watching our society celebrate Christmas for thirty years, I will probably make a bunch of Christians very mad”
Many people find the year-end holiday season to be the most stressful time of year. This is an especially difficult time for those who are working through their grief after the death of a loved one. I am reaching back into my archives for some things that have helped me over the years since my mother died suddenly more than 12 years ago. [Tumblr reblogs will cut it short so here’s the Permalink for this post in its entirety] Yes I have copied and culled from emails and conversations with many, many people over the years to produce this. What follows is not “mine”. It is a gift from many grieving hearts to yours, hoping it will help you get through the season.
1. You don’t have to go to that function / party / get-together. You can say no. You have to take care of you, if you’re going to be any good to anybody. Other people are not the ones who get to judge what you need right now. They will say, “You never go out; you need to get out.” No. Here’s what “never go out” looks like: you can’t function well enough to dress yourself and go get groceries. Unless you’re basically naked and starving, you get out enough. Trust me. You “got out” of bed, didn’t you?
2. If you do go out, make sure there is somebody there (the more the better) to look after you. Check with them ahead of time. You’ll need someone to pull you away from all the people who have to tell you how ‘sorry’ they are — and want to offer their theories on why your loved one bought it. (Inevitably, these are the people who never called.) They’ll hurt you and/or make you angry, so have someone who can act as a buffer zone. When you get to the party, find out right away where the bathroom is so you can make a tactical retreat when necessary.
3. Don’t drink. Believe me, you’ll drink more than you expected to if you do. People will push alcohol on you to help you feel better — which really means that they want to feel better. If people try to push you to drink, move away from them or leave the party. Even if you successfully numb the pain for a while, it will only be worse later.
4. Nurture yourself in your own way. Get a massage, treat yourself to a dinner of ice cream and cookies, spend a day in your pajamas, rent or buy musicals. Take hot baths. Go for a long walk. You deserve it — besides, one of the sad things that death teaches us is that this life is not forever. Don’t postpone your joy. [See also my longer post about Holiday Survival: How to Take Care of Yourself.)
5. If you can, shop during the day. Take time off from work if you have to. Try to go with a friend. You don’t want to go when the stores are the most crowded. If you can, do your shopping online and avoid the crowds and insanity, which will just make you feel like the only person in the world without a loved one. It is okay to buy a gift for the loved one who died — a special ornament for the tree perhaps. Or to get something for yourself that you just know is the kind of thing they would have gotten you.
6. It’s okay if you don’t celebrate this year. You don’t have to put up lights or bake cookies unless you really want to. After all, it’s your house. It’s your life. It’s your grief. The neighbors and relatives can stuff it — the only people who matter are the ones who live with you.
[See also my post on Grief and the Holidays: Answers for the “How are you?” Question.]
My little town. Just a few miles. Thanksgiving Day, about 1pm. Saw a guy turn left from the right lane of a (2-lane) one-way street. Met a big 4WD truck (I’m in a ‘92 Honda Civic) that was driving up the hill ON the yellow line. Was second in line at a four-way stop occupied by four people who all seemed to be waiting for the light to change (it was a four-way stop!).
And that reminded me.
One of those things I’m thankful about? My sobriety. Just sayin’.
Whenever the Holidays are upon us, I think back to how heartless and cruel many people were (often heedlessly) after my mother died unexpectedly back in the summer of 2000. One of the difficult recurring social situations is when you get that cue to speak: “How are you?!” The light comes on, the camera is rolling. What do you say?
One part sugar, one part water, three parts cranberries.
Amazing, isn’t it?
(this was 2011’s cranberry sauce. I made 2012’s yesterday….the cooking has begun!)
I’ve been widowed for close to 5 years now, so I’ve learned a bit about getting through the holidays. Here’s my advice:1. Don’t drink. Believe me, you’ll drink more than you expected to if you do. People will push alcohol on you to help you feel better — which really means that they want to feel better. If people try to push you to drink, move away from them or leave the party.2. If you do go out, make sure there are a few people there to look after you. You’ll need someone to pull you away from all the people who have to tell you how ‘sorry’ they are — and want to offer their theories on why your loved one bought it. Inevitably, these are the people who never called. They’ll make you angry, so have someone who can act as a buffer zone.3. Nurture yourself. Get a professional massage, treat yourself to a dinner of ice cream and cookies, spend a day in your pajamas, rent or buy musicals. Take hot baths. Go for a long walk. You deserve it- besides, one of the sad things that death teaches us is that there is no forever. Don’t postpone joy.4. It’s okay if you don’t celebrate this year. You don’t have to put up lights or bake cookies unless you really want to. After all, it’s your house. The neighbors and relatives can stuff it — the only people who matter are the ones who live with you. For the first time in over 4 years, I’m spending a holiday — Thanksgiving — with my mother. I wasn’t up to it before, because she’s really annoying. I don’t feel the least bit guilty. On past holidays I had friends over and watched movies and cooked; if that pissed off my family that was too bad for them. For Christmas I’m staying home as far as I know. I’m still not up to going out. Last year I went to the ballet and had a great weekend with friends. This year will be less frenetic and more thoughtful. 5. If you can, shop during the day. Take time off from work if you have to. Try to go with a friend. You don’t want to go when the stores are too crowded. If you can, do your shopping online and avoid the crushes, which will just make you feel like the only person in the world without a loved one.
Here we are in the middle of one of the most stressful times of the year for those in grief. I am reaching back into my archives for some things that have helped me over the years.
TIPS FOR HANDLING THE HOLIDAYS
1.) DECIDE WHAT YOU CAN HANDLE COMFORTABLY AND LET FAMILY AND FRIENDS KNOW.
Can I handle the responsibility of the family dinner, etc. or shall I ask someone else to do it? Do I want to talk about my loved one or not? Shall I stay here for the holidays or go to a completely different environment?
2.) MAKE SOME CHANGES IF THEY FEEL COMFORTABLE FOR YOU.
Open presents Christmas Eve instead of Christmas morning. Vary the timing of Channukah gift giving. Have dinner at a different time or place. Let the children take over decorating the house, the tree, baking and food preparation, etc.
3.) RE-EXAMINE YOUR PRIORITIES: GREETING CARDS, HOLIDAY BAKING, DECORATING, PUTTING UP A TREE, FAMILY DINNER, ETC.
Do I really enjoy doing this? Is this a task that can be shared?
4.) CONSIDER DOING SOMETHING SPECIAL FOR SOMEONE ELSE.
Donate a gift in the memory of your loved one. Donate money you would have spent on your loved one as a gift to charity. Adopt a needy family for the holidays. Invite a guest (foreign student, senior citizen) to share festivities.
5.) RECOGNIZE YOUR LOVED ONE’S PRESENCE IN THE FAMILY.
Burn a special candle to quietly include your loved one. Hang a stocking for your loved one in which people can put notes with their thoughts or feelings. Listen to music especially liked by the deceased. Look at photographs.
6.) IF YOU DECIDE TO DO HOLIDAY SHOPPING, MAKE A LIST AHEAD OF TIME AND KEEP IT HANDY FOR A GOOD DAY, OR SHOP THROUGH A CATALOG.
You can always call off the shopping trip if that day or time turns out to be a bad day.
7.) OBSERVE THE HOLIDAYS IN WAYS WHICH ARE COMFORTABLE FOR YOU.
There is no right or wrong way of handling holidays. Once you’ve decided how to observe the time, let others know.
8.) TRY TO GET ENOUGH REST — HOLIDAYS CAN BE EMOTIONALLY AND PHYSICALLY DRAINING.
Make sure to eat enough too. Comfort food is okay for people in grief!
9.) ALLOW YOURSELF TO EXPRESS YOUR FEELINGS.
Holidays often magnify feelings of loss. It is natural to feel sadness. Share concerns, apprehensions, feelings with a friend. The need for support is often greater during holidays.
10.) KEEP IN MIND THAT THE EXPERIENCE OF MANY BEREAVED PERSONS IS THAT THEY DO COME TO ENJOY HOLIDAYS AGAIN. THERE WILL BE OTHER HOLIDAY SEASONS TO CELEBRATE.
You don’t need to worry about next year’s holidays now.
11.) DON’T BE AFRAID TO HAVE FUN.
Laughter and joy are not disrespectful. You may find yourself laughing and then feel terrible about it. Give yourself and your family members permission to celebrate and take pleasure in the holidays.
[ This is based on *Bereavement & Loss Resources* a publication of Rivendell Resources and GriefNet. — with minor additions. ]
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