Posts tagged holidays
Posts tagged holidays
Keep calm and holiday on!
Last year’s bird — twenty pounds (!), and not our biggest ever! We love those leftovers!
[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.]
- - -
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.]
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.
- - -
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.
- - - - - -
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.
This is from my archives, from the usenet newsgroup alt.support.grief. What I have copied below is from a widow known at the time of posting as “Her Serene Highness”. This was on the Alt.Support.Grief boards on Friday November 8, 2002. Hope this helps.
- - -
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 youto 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 ok 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.
An article on grief from my archives. Perhaps from a The Concerned Friends newsletter? This one was posted on the usenet newsgroup alt.support.grief by “Diana” back on September 2, 2001.
- - -
A Bereaved Parents Holiday Wish List
1. I wish my child hadn’t died. I wish I had him back.
2. I wish you wouldn’t be afraid to speak my child’s name. My child lived and was very important to me. I need to hear that he was important to you also.
3. If I cry and get emotional when you talk about my child I wish you knew that it isn’t because you have hurt me. My child’s death is the cause of my tears. You have talked about my child, and you have allowed me to share my grief. I thank you for both.
4. I wish you wouldn’t “kill” my child again by removing his pictures, artwork, or other remembrances from your home.
5. Being a bereaved parent is not contagious, so I wish you wouldn’t shy away from me. I need you now more than ever.
6. I need diversions, so I do want to hear about you; but, I also want you to hear about me. I might be sad and I might cry, but I wish you would let me talk about my child, my favorite topic of the day.
7. I know that you think of and pray for me often. I also know that my child’s death pains you, too. I wish you would let me know those things through a phone call, a card or note, or a real big hug.
8. I wish you wouldn’t expect my grief to be over in six months. These first months are traumatic for me, but I wish you could understand that my grief will never be over. I will suffer the death of my child until the day I die.
9. I am working very hard in my recovery, but I wish you could understand that I will never fully recover. I will always miss my child, and I will always grieve that he is dead.
10. I wish you wouldn’t expect me “not to think about it” or to “be happy.” Neither will happen for a very long time, so don’t frustrate yourself.
11. I don’t want to have a “pity party,” but I do wish you would let me grieve. I must hurt before I can heal.
12. I wish you understood how my life has shattered. I know it is miserable for you to be around me when I’m feeling miserable. Please be as patient with me as I am with you.
13. When I say “I’m doing okay,” I wish you could understand that I don’t “feel” okay and that I struggle daily.
14. I wish you knew that all of the grief reactions I’m having are very normal. Depression, anger, hopelessness and overwhelming sadness are all to be expected. So please excuse me when I’m quiet and withdrawn or irritable and cranky.
15. Your advice to “take one day at a time” is excellent advice. However, a day is too much and too fast for me right now. I wish you could understand that I’m doing good to handle an hour at a time.
16. Please excuse me if I seem rude, certainly not my intent. Sometimes the world around me goes too fast and I need to get off. When I walk away, I wish you would let me find a quiet place to spend time alone.
17. I wish you understood that grief changes people. When my child died, a big part of me died with him. I am not the same person I was before my child died, and I will never be that person again.
18. I wish very much that you could understand; understand my loss and my grief, my silence and my tears, my void and my pain. BUT I pray daily that you will never understand.
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?