I debated posting the first part – it’s a rough topic for a time like Advent. But many people messaged me saying it was either a good reminder for them that others in their lives were grieving, or it was helpful for themselves. And honestly, I have family still actively in the midst of grieving this season – I’m not wanting to be inconsiderate of their immediate needs, space, time, breathing. If your loss is very recent, go back to part 1. But there are those of us for whom the loss has had a little more space and time, maybe your loss was a few months ago. Maybe a year or two has passed. What then?
For many, there is a sense of sadness. Maybe ornaments bring a mix of memories, a song on the radio brings that twinge of pain, or maybe your loved one always helped decorate or bake and now you just can’t do it.
For some, there is a sense of guilt. How dare I enjoy the season, laugh, decorate, bake, and party? Is it disrespectful to the loved one I’m missing?
For others, the goal is just to have peace. Maybe you’re hoping this year is the year you can remember without tears.
Here’s the thing: where you are is ok.* We need to give ourselves and our families some grace here. There’s no formula. There’s no time limit. If you can decorate the tree without crying, ok. If your mom or child or spouse or friend isn’t there yet and still needs tears, ok. Give yourself room. Give others room. Give kids room. Room to mourn as well as room to be ok. If you laugh, or cry, or feel numb, or keep busy, don’t scold yourself for it. Your body and soul are healing.
And when you give yourself room, maybe you’ll find some step to take. For me, cooking what my grandmother (who passed away over 20 years ago) used to make helps me feel close to her – no sadness, just happy memories. For others, they find writing, music, art, photos… something that will build connection to what you’ve lost. For kids, creating something can help – like drawing, writing a letter to, or a poem about, their loved one. Often, a “right brained” creative activity helps us here. These kinds of activities engage our emotion, and begin us on a path of healing. So, let yourself feel what you’re feeling. Give yourself room. And take one step forward.
*If you are suffering depression, are having thoughts of harming yourself or others, others are pointing out signs of depression, or you sense the heaviness of depression & hopelessness coming… seek help today. You can make it back to seeing the light again, but ask for help to do it.
National Suicide Prevention Lifeline (24/7 help) : 1-800-273-8255
United Way Helpline: 1-800-233-4357 They can aid you in locating a therapist, healthcare or basic necessities such as housing and food by directing you to local services.
2-1-1 : calling 211 from your phone, or going to http://211.org/ can get you a variety of resources for mental health.