Amplexi et Osculi

Celebrating the ongoing life

Posts tagged holidays

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Holiday Helps - Grief - How to Take Care of Yourself

[I wrote this list over the years from 2000 to 2008.  The advice is specifically for those who are grieving the death of a loved one, but it may be helpful for any kind of major stress.  This has been posted on the usenet (remember those old days?) newsgroup alt.support.grief, in various forms.]
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HOW TO TAKE CARE OF YOURSELF

1.) Eat.  You may not be able to taste it, but the tissues do need nutrients.  Think simple.  Think comfort.  

2.) Try to lie down for at least six hours a day.  Do it in a series of cat-naps if you want.  You may not be able to sleep.  When your body needs sleep, your body will sleep.  But being horizontal helps even if you’re not sleeping.  Try not to *try* too hard to sleep.  

3.) Breathe all the way out occasionally.  Breathe all the way in occasionally too.  

4.) Relax you jaw muscles.  Lower your shoulders.  Lift your eyes to the horizon.  Unclench your hands and toes.  If you can do those things, much of the rest of you might relax too.  

5.) Drink a little water or juice sometimes even if you aren’t eating. Stress (and crying!) is dehydrating.  And being dehydrated adds to the stress.

6.) If you normally bathe, consider taking a shower instead; if you normally shower, consider taking a bath.  Weird, but outlook-changing. Likewise, if you always put on your left shoe first, do the right one first today.  Try it.

7.) Comfort-dress.  Put on your most comfortable clothes, even if the colors don’t match.  Your most comfortable condition of dress (or undress).

8.) Try a new brand of … tea, coffee, breakfast cereal, after-shave, soap, hair gel, whatever.  It helps create new patterns in your routine.

9.) Make some time that is *you* time. Then, practice *not* feeling guilty about stealing that hour from your many other responsibilities. Here are some ideas:  A.) Sometimes I go to the library after work and read the funny parts in a couple of the periodicals I don’t subscribe to (I mean, why *subscribe* if all I read are one column and the cartoons?).  B.) Go somewhere comfortable and anonymous (Library, park bench, a bench at the mall…) and either pull out your phone and pretend to talk to someone (like those we have lost?) or pull out a book or magazine and pretend to read.  Nobody will bother you!

10.) I hate to say it, but exercise does help.  Even if it is just flexing  your ankles while lying on your back, it can get the lymph pumping.  (I have discovered that some park benches are high enough to kick my feet like a little child — it is very gentle exercise, and “it takes me back …”)  Gentle  walks … on up to long aerobic workouts … it’s all okay.  Don’t get down on yourself for not doing *more*.

11.) Find a piece of nature you can enjoy, even if for just a few minutes:   an all-day hike in the pristine mountains; an afternoon near the  surf-sprayed tide pool rocks; a detour into and then out of the  florist’s shop (the air is so great in there!); a peek into  the pet store just to watch the baby whatevers crawl over each other.

12.) Write.  Some write in a journal.  I sometimes write “letters” to those whom I have lost.  (Mostly I guess my grief writing is in the form of blog posts.) 

[*Notice*: the above recommendations are based on personal experience.  I am not any of the following: doctor, lawyer, psychologist, counselor, traveling salesman, or multilevel marketer.]

Filed under grief loss bereavement holidays

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Holiday Helps - Tips for Handling the Holidays

The Thanksgiving holiday in the United States is upon us.  This is the beginning 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 helped me get through the painful years after my mother died suddenly in June, 2000.  “Daisy” posted this on the usenet newsgroup alt.support.grief on Tuesday November 13, 2001.
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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 Channukkah 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.

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.

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.

11.  DON’T BE AFRAID TO HAVE FUN.
Laughter and joy are not disrespectful.  Give yourself and your family members permission to celebrate and take pleasure in the holidays.

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Reprinted from “Bereavement & Loss Resources” a publication of Rivendell Resources and GriefNet. Rivendell Resources grants anyone the right to reprint this information without request for compensation so long as the copy is not used for profit and so long as this paragraph is reprinted in its entirety with any  copied portion.

Filed under grief loss bereavement holidays