I was flying home from Ireland a few weeks ago and looked out at the top of the clouds. It reminded me of Cory. The first time he saw the tops of clouds he asked if we could go play on them. I believe he got his wish.
As we approach the holidays I wanted to reprise my ‘Things to remember’ list. I also added five more this year. It is so difficult to get through the holidays when missing a loved one. Just know that you are not alone. I hope these help.
Here ya go:
1) Be kind to yourself. Don’t put pressure on yourself.
2) Cherish the memories of good times. Set aside the sad ones.
3) Remember that your loved one wants you to be happy.
4) Acknowledge your pain and then put your energy into honoring his or her memory.
5) Make your own new memories.The holidays are often difficult, stressful, and sad even for those not grieving. It isn’t about the ads you see in magazines or on TV. The way you feel about holidays comes from memories of your own childhood…some happy some sad. If you are grieving don’t try to live up to the Madison Avenue version of the holidays. Do what you can.
6) Continue to include your loved one in your celebrations. To this day we put ornaments my son made or that were given to him on our tree.
7) When your family gathers, take some time to watch family videos or go through photos together.
8) Laugh often.
9) Eat healthy foods and make sure that you are getting enough exercise and sleep.
10) Volunteer to help others. It will make you feel good. You might want to invite your family members to join you in serving at a soup kitchen or giving away toys at a shelter or hospital.
11) Donate to a charity in memory of your loved one. Give to his or her favorite cause. In honor of my son Cory, my family supplies the altar flowers at church.
12) Again, we all grieve differently.There is no right or wrong way to grieve (unless one is behaving in a self-destructive way). Do what you can to face your grief. Do not try to ignore it.
13) Respect the coping style of those who are also grieving. Their style might be the opposite of yours but they are doing what they can manage too.
14) Don’t be afraid to talk about your loved one who died. Acknowledge his or her and do not be afraid of upsetting others in the process.
15) Create new rituals that include the celebration of your loved one.For example, at your family celebration (or add another group or family gathering such as a lunch or dinner during the holidays) ask each family member or friend to bring an item for a memory box. They could write a favorite memory, share a photo, write a poem or letter and then spend some time sharing each item. Place the items in the box that you all decorated or selected together. Each year add new items.
16) Listen to your body. Don’t push yourself too hard. Do what you can. If the death is very recent your first priority is to take care of yourself so that you can take care of your family.
17) Surround yourself with supportive, loving, caring people and then, if needed don’t be shy about asking for help. If you don’t have the energy or desire to get to your shopping, or get the house decorated or do any holiday baking, ask those supportive friends and family members for help. Or just let it go this year. You will survive.
18) My friend Laurel Miller got us hooked on watching Hallmark Christmas movies. I know, they can be schmaltzy but there is always a happy ending. They truly lifted our spirits and put us in the mood for the holidays.
19) If your loved one was self-destructive, please try to let go of your anger and judgment. Addiction is a disease like all others. You may believe he or she chose substance abuse over family and loved ones but don’t be so sure. Addiction is powerful. Focus on your good memories. Talk to a professional about your anger.
20) Strive to survive. In everything you do, do it with love.
I hope your holidays are cheerful and bright. Happy Chanukah, Mele Kalikimaka, Happy Kwanzaa, Merry Christmas and Happy 2018.