Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Holidays Can Be Tough

How's everyone doing?

I'm kind of in a funk. It's like I only have 2 speeds- either furiously trying to keep up or totally comatose sleeping for hours.

I'm feeling really unbalanced. Frustrated.

I'm not sure the solution. And I'm not trying to bring you all down. Just sayin.

I know this is a tough time of year for so many. There was an excellent article in the Washington Post last Thursday called Facing the Holidays After Heartbreak. While it dealt with families dealing with both loss and separation (such as divorce) I thought there were some excellent suggestions by the author, Tracy Grant. I'm going to just quote parts of it but you can read the whole article here.

"...navigating the holidays can be exhausting... Finding the balance between the old and the new and keeping old traditions alive while creating new memories is the challenge..."

Cynthia Glass, a clinical social worker has these suggestions for starting traditions:

Honor the empty seat. Put together pictures or sayings about the person who is missing.
(This is Emily now- at one workshop I presented a woman told me she sets a place at the table to remember her missing child. One of my favorite suggestions I've ever heard is to have a toast to remember all those family members not at the table with you.)

Create a new tradition, perhaps taking a family walk in the woods. (From Emily: One woman told me her family has started doing a Christmas sunrise picnic at the beach)

Cut back on presents. Shopping can be stressful and overwhelming (Emily: and it is really hard to go out where you will see lots of families with babies or pregnant women. I do a lot of my shopping online to avoid that. I even use a grocery delivery service for groceries if I'm really having a tough time)

Spend time with people who 'get it'. Don't force yourself to be around people who make the holidays harder for you, even if those people are family members. (Emily: yes, yes, totally agree)

Do something spiritual. Not necessarily religious, but something that makes you realize you are part of somthing bigger, something that allows you to connect to art, nature or other people. (Emily: love this)

Realize you aren't alone in needing help. Helping people in a charitable way helps yourself, too. (Emily: I know many people use this opportunity to do donate or do a kindness project in honor of their baby. I've had people tell me they donate to Toys for Tots, food banks, leaving a large tip for a server when going out to eat, making cookies or snacks for the fire house or police station or whatever project speaks to healing your heart.)

The author says that 'sometimes a change of scenery is just what a family needs'. (Emily: I have had people tell me they plan a trip somewhere- the beach, or the mountains. Just someplace different.)

Now, this is me again:
I give you permission to do as much or as little as you can. Ask for help when you need it. Lower your expectations. Cry when you need or want. Take care of yourself. Remember to eat (not just Christmas cookies).

Actually, this is all good advice for me, too.
Hope today is gentle for you.


Kara Chipoletti Jones of GriefAndCreativity dot com said...

giving you permission to take your own shared advice and ideas then :) Hugs to you, too -- and lots of gentle vibes... miracles, k-

Me said...

Fabulous advice. My husband suggested I make an ornament for our Angel Baby. I did that, and it just made me feel good. I have pictures of my boys on the tree, and now Lilly has her own ornament, too.

Unknown said...

These are great suggestions. What I'd really like to do this Christmas is go back to Hawaii like last year when my daughter was still alive in me but that just ain't happening financially. Now I kinda wish we would've saved up some money and took a little road trip. Wish I would've thought of it sooner.

Ter said...

I'll be all alone again this year, except for my dog.


I haven't even put up the tree.... I've turned into my mother, and that's the worst thing ever. :(

corilee said...

I'm having a tough time. These are all great suggestions. Thanks for sharing Emily. The hard part is that it was just after the holidays when I found out I was miraculously pregnant. This holiday season is bittersweet, I'm mourning my baby, but celebrating the addition of two daughters that will permanently be part of our family soon.

Bates Family said...

The holidays are really hard for me. We recently had our second loss and I've struggled even enjoying watching my daughter get so excited. We've decided to set up a Christmas tree on our sons' graves. We also got two more stocking and have them hanging with everyone elses. Acknowledging my sons as still a part of our family even though they aren't physically here has helped me cope with the losses. I've also bought each of my kids an ornament. My daughter gets excited every year because she gets to hang up her brothers' ornaments too.

Brian Daniel said...

Yes, holidays can be difficult. I have always used a positive attitude and living in the present to enjoy every day of life. Some times just keeping busy takes your mind off your troubles and the better use of your time that way will make you feel better.
I wrote a book about my own divorce and how I was able to use this second chance at life to make a happier and more enjoyable life AFTER divorce / separation.
See "upside of divorce" on Amazon and see my author page for my website for discount book prices--some $5 to $7 off Amazon's costs. Thanks! Brian Daniel

日月神教-任我行 said...