1. Do something different
The first Christmas after my daughter’s death I went to the beach with my brothers and their families. It was the best therapy for me – long walks on the beach, listening to the waves, feeling God’s presence in the sunrises and sunsets. This year may be a year when you can’t get out of town, but when the grief is fresh, do something that does not remind you of the traditions you shared with your loved one. Our choices are limited during this pandemic but make a plan ahead of time.
2. Accept your feelings, whatever they are.
Sometimes we feel guilty if we have moments of joy or happiness. Maybe you feel as though you should not laugh or smile. Sometimes we can’t laugh or smile. This journey of grief is yours, not your spouse’s or siblings’. If we push down feelings of sadness, they just grow bigger and stronger, pushing themselves up to be exposed. Recognize the feelings you have TODAY and accept them. Write them down in a journal, then take some deep breaths. Regain balance by counting your breaths or repeating a phrase such as, “He is for me, He is for me.” Listen to “The Blessing“ by Kari Jobe.
3. Skip any tradition that doesn’t feel right.
The problem with traditions is that we sometimes hold on to them so long, we forget there is no law or rule that says you have to open presents first thing Christmas day. Memories during the holidays bubble up unexpectedly. Even taking out ornaments to decorate the tree. After Jennifer’s death some years we just skipped putting up a tree ; I just couldn’t face the memory of going as a family to pick out a tree, setting it up, and decorating. The first time I pulled out ornaments, memories slammed into my heart. Each ornament reminded me of when we got it, or when Jennifer made it for me. Just skip what you need to skip.
4. Call friends and family for help.
Pick and choose among your support group who will understand what you need. Ask a friend to go shopping with you. Invite the people you need to be with over for brunch or lunch. Don’t assume that anyone will know what you need. Decide what would make you feel better and then ask.
5. Schedule “me” time.
Be deliberate in finding time for self-care. What will fill up your emotional tank? A massage or pedicure? A quiet walk in the woods? Strolling through the mall? This is the year we have to be creative because of the limitations of the pandemic. If Hallmark movies will cheer you up, binge watch some. Giving to others can be considered self-care. Bake some cookies and share with the single mom next door.
Above all, be kind to yourself. Give yourself some grace. Let go of self-criticism.
The verse closes each chapter in my book, Where Is Joy? Let it guide you through these days.
Don’t worry about anything.
Pray about everything.
Tell God what you need.
Thank him for all he has done.
Philippians 4:6 New Living Translation
- Read more about my journey here.
- For more resources on grief, check out this page on my website.
- You can find my book at Amazon.