Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Better late than never!

Sorry it's taken me so long to get this out, but hopefully you can still get a little help from it! The kids and I decorated Jeff's stone with those stakes that have snowmen and elves and santa on them for the holidays this year. We added a wreath. Now it's snowed a lot so I don't know how well it's doing, so we'll go there tomorrow to check on it.

I heard from a good friend of mine who lost her husband and was having a tough time getting through the holidays because not only did she lose him, but her son left home to go into the Navy, the other got his license and her daughter is moving in with her boyfriend. So many changes! The two of the kids will be home for the holidays, but still...

So I decided to ask a bunch of people for tips and suggestions on how to get through the holidays. I'm pasting them below. My best advice? Take from this list and do what YOU want to do. Nobody can tell you what feels right. Just do what feels right regardless of the list and regardless of what others think you should do.

Louise Zweben, CEO of SympathyTree.com.

* Watch movies and collect photographs of you with your loved one as a way to remember the times you shared with them. You do not want to just block it out. Moving on starts with looking back.
* Creating an online memorial to bring your family and friends together from all over the world to share their stories and memories, to remember, comfort, grieve and heal with each other.

Dr. Laurie Ann Levin, founder and CEO of Moonview Sanctuary (www.moonviewsanctuary.com), a treatment center incorporating a variety of mind, body, spirit approaches:

“Do not judge yourself with arbitrary estimation of where you should or shouldn't be with your loss. Regardless of what you are feeling – anger, grief, fear, despondency – know that it is OK and love yourself for these emotions. Acknowledge where you are and mark it as a barometer for next year at the same time to see how you have grown.”

* Allow yourself to grieve the loss of your loved one. This takes priority over any holiday.
* Let yourself off the hook. You might not be in the mood to celebrate. This is normal. Honor yourself by allowing yourself to take a break from all of the parties.
* Seek support from those who understand you. Turn to others who will support your decision to take a holiday from the holidays!

Dr. Susan Shumsky, www.doctorsusan.org,
* Help Someone Else: One e sure way to forget your blues is to help someone in need. Go and visit a relative who is homebound. Or visit people in a nursing home and cheer them up. Play a game, read a book, or sing a song with them. Volunteer at a homeless shelter and dish out food. Or volunteer at a hospice and reminisce with the patients about their lives.

Marta Felber, Author, Grief Expressed When a Mate Dies,Finding Your Way After Your Spouse Dies

My Mantra for Getting Through the Holidays:

I will be kind to myself and nurturing. I will do things differently without feeling guilty. I will ask for and accept help. I will be realistic about what I can handle, both physically and emotionally. I will get plenty of rest and not attempt too much. I will provide safe times and places to grieve. I will give myself the gift of happy memories. I will survive, knowing it will be easier next year.

Katherine Ingram, M.A.
I am a trained psychologist, writer and was widowed, at Christmas, when I 
was 32. My best advice for getting through the holidays comes from
my personal experience, although psychology would back it up. Don't
try to celebrate the holidays as usual, unless that brings solace.
Look for a place where you can offer yourself to someone or something
else. It is empowering and comforting to feel there is something in
you still to give and to remind yourself, in your pain, that others
are also longing for connection. It doesn't have to be a grand
humanitarian gesture. I went to the horse stables near my home. No
one was there and I could walk quietly among the animals, feeding
each of them carrots and appreciating their silent companionship and
the quiet, earthy peacefulness of the place. Focusing on the "Oh my
god it's Christmas and I am without my beloved" puts undue pressure
on the heart. It is a day, like any other: difficult, but moving
slowly into a new life. Lower the expectations and look to create an
experience of life and connection rather than death and separation.
Make a small offering to the world.
Kara L.C. Jones, Grief & Art Coach, exploring the heART of life...Www.MotherHenna.com

Tip1: Considering attending a Blue Christmas service in your area. Often these services include some facilitated sharing and more of a community support feeling. It can be a safe space where you can say the name of your loved one, remember & honor in sacred space.
Tip2: Walk a labyrinth. This is a very meditative process, walking in silence, ritual of integration. If there is a place at the end to set a rock on a cairn, do so in memory of your loved one.
Tip3: Do some automatic writing for 5 minutes. Set your egg timer. Put pen to paper, writing about your loved one or to your loved one. Don't stop, don't edit, just keep the pen moving till the timer goes off.

More coming!

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