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Helping Yourself Heal During the Holiday Season
by Alan D. Wolfelt, Ph.D.
Holidays are often difficult for anyone who has experienced the death of someone loved. Rather than being times of family togetherness, sharing and thanksgiving, holidays can bring feelings of sadness, loss and emptiness.
Love Does Not End With Death
Since love does not end with death, holidays may result in a renewed sense of personal grief-a feeling of loss unlike that experienced in the routine of daily living. Society encourages you to join in the holiday spirit, but all around you the sounds, sights and smells trigger memories of the one you love who has died.
No simple guidelines exist that will take away the hurt you are feeling. We hope, however, the following suggestions will help you better cope with your grief during this joyful, yet painful, time of the year. As you read through this article, remember that by being tolerant and compassionate with yourself, you will continue to heal.
Talk About Your Grief
During the holiday season, don’t be afraid to express your feelings of grief. Ignoring your grief won’t make the pain go away and talking about it openly often makes you feel better. Find caring friends and relatives who will listen-without judging you. They will help make you feel understood.
Be Tolerant of Your Physical and Psychological Limits
Feelings of loss will probably leave you fatigued. Your low energy level may naturally slow you down. Respect what your body and mind are telling you. And lower your own expectations about being at your peak during the holiday season.
Eliminate Unnecessary Stress
You may already feel stressed, so don’t overextend yourself. Avoid isolating yourself, but be sure to recognize the need to have special time for yourself. Realize also that merely “keeping busy” won’t distract you from your grief, but may actually increase stress and postpone the need to talk out thoughts and feelings related to your grief.
Be With Supportive, Comforting People
Identify those friends and relatives who understand that the holiday season can increase your sense of loss and who will allow you to talk openly about your feelings. Find those persons who encourage you to be yourself and accept your feelings-both happy and sad.
Talk About the Person Who Has Died
Include the person’s name in your holiday conversation. If you are able to talk candidly, other people are more likely to recognize your need to remember that special person who was an important part of your life.
Do What Is Right for You During the Holidays
Well-meaning friends and family often try to prescribe what is good for you during the holidays. Instead of going along with their plans, focus on what you want to do. Discuss your wishes with a caring, trusted friend. Talking about these wishes will help you clarify what it is you want to do during the holidays. As you become aware of your needs, share them with your friends and family.
Plan Ahead for Family Gatherings
Decide which family traditions you want to continue and which new ones you would like to begin. Structure your holiday time. This will help you anticipate activities, rather than just reacting to whatever happens. Getting caught off guard can create feelings of panic, fear and anxiety during the time of the year when your feelings of grief are already heightened. As you make your plans, however, leave room to change them if you feel it is appropriate.
Embrace Your Treasure of Memories
Memories are one of the best legacies that exist after the death of someone loved. And holidays always make you think about times past. Instead of ignoring these memories, share them with your family and friends. Keep in mind that memories are tinged with both happiness and sadness. If your memories bring laughter, smile. If your memories bring sadness, then it’s alright to cry. Memories that were made in love-no one can ever take them away from you.
Renew Your Resources for Living
Spend time thinking about the meaning and purpose of your life. The death of someone loved created opportunities for taking inventory of your life- past, present and future. The combination of a holiday and a loss naturally results in looking inward and assessing your individual situation. Make the best use of this time to define the positive things in life that surround you.
Express Your Faith
During the holidays, you may find a renewed sense of faith or discover a new set of beliefs. Associate with people who understand and respect your need to talk about these beliefs. If your faith is important, you may want to attend a holiday service or special religious ceremony.
As you approach the holidays, remember: grief is both a necessity and a privilege. It comes as a result of giving and receiving love. Don’t let anyone take your grief away. Love yourself. Be patient with yourself. And allow yourself to be surrounded by loving, caring people.
About the Author
Dr. Alan D. Wolfelt is a noted author, educator and practicing grief counselor. He serves as Director of the Center for Loss and Life Transition in Fort Collins, Colorado and presents more than 100 grief-related workshops each year across North America
reprinted with permission
FACING THE FUTURE BY SHARING OUR LOSS – A GRIEF SUPPORT GROUP SERIES FOR ADULTS
Our next grief support group series will be held Monday afternoons in Mora, from January 12, through April 20, 2015. Group members will learn about grief and mourning, share their personal experience and encourage other group members in their grief journeys. Participants seem to benefit most if they have been bereaved 4 to 24 months. Facing the Future by Sharing Our Loss, will be facilitated by Jane Ingebrand BES, RN. Pre-registration and pre-screening are required and space is limited to twelve group members. The cost is $16.00 for materials. Please register by Friday, January 9, 2015.
For more information, call Jane; at Akkerman – Ingebrand Funeral Home (320) 679-1933 or Rock – Ingebrand Funeral Home (320) 396-2121.
Local Funeral Director Becomes a Certified Funeral Celebrant
Ingebrand Funeral Homes of Mora & Braham is excited to announce that Katy Hamilton, Licensed Funeral Director, has completed a three day workshop to become a Certified Funeral Celebrant. A Funeral Celebrant is a professional who has been trained in the specific area of planning and conducting personalized funeral services, memorial services, celebrations of life, graveside services or tributes for families that desire a very personalized experience. While a Funeral Celebrant’s expertise may be used in either faith-based or secular services, a Celebrant may be especially helpful to families that prefer a secular service. The Funeral Celebrant meets with a family and helps them to design a service that reflects the life and attributes of their loved one, and then conducts that service at a place of the families choosing.
This practice is widely used in New Zealand and Australia and there are now approximately 1600 Certified Funeral Celebrants throughout the United States and Canada. Ingebrand Funeral Homes is very pleased to be able to offer the expertise of a Funeral Celebrant to the families they serve. If you would like more information about Celebrant led services, please make an appointment to meet with Katy, in Mora, at Akkerman – Ingebrand Funeral & Cremation Service: 320-679-1933 or in Braham, at Rock – Ingebrand Funeral & Cremation Service: 320-396-2121.
Thanks for visiting our Web site.
Mike and Jane Ingebrand, Owners
Experiencing change, loss, death and grief is difficult. We live in a culture that glorifies youth, beauty and productiveness and denies the role that loss, suffering and grief play in shaping our lives. When we love deeply we grieve deeply at the death of a loved one. Funeral rituals are important as they honor the life that was lived, help us express the grief we feel, invite friends and family to offer comfort and support and often become reunions for family and friends. Funerals are for the living. No two funerals are exactly alike. The ceremony may be religious or secular depending on the person responsible for making arrangements.
A meaningful, personalized funeral or memorial service will be an important occasion for the family to share memories and begin the grief process. We are committed to helping you plan a meaningful funeral or memorial service that is consistent with the life that was lived and strives to meet the emotional and financial needs of the survivors.