How to Handle Grief During the Holidays
As soon as I began to type the title of this post, my eyes began to fill with tears, my breathing began to speed up and my chest felt like steel was barricading my heart. GRIEF IS AN A$$HOLE. When you’re missing someone you love, you sometimes don't feel the intense and dramatic feeling of loss quite as deep as during the holidays or birthdays. My birthday is right near Christmas, five days to be exact and every year for the past 4 years, I've wanted so badly to hear Happy Birthday Booty or enjoy my father watching Amira open presents. I had never experienced losing half of everything I am and often times I still can't get a grip, especially at Christmas. I just simply hold it in and not let "my daddy" come out of my mouth anymore.
If you or someone you love has the longing to be with your loved one that has transitioned, this holiday season, here are a few tips I’ve applied to my own experience over time that may be worth sharing.
EXTEND A LITTLE GRACE TO YOURSELF AND YOUR FAMILY
I chose this tip first because it was something I really had to learn over time. Losing my dad was totally unexpected. I mean within a 45-minute span he was here, we chatted on the phone and then he disappeared into a thin and harsh air that ripped my family apart. The dynamic of my immediate family went through some turbulence. It took a year or so for things to get normal. Because I grieved and grieved and grieved. I couldn't find myself and voice and I was utterly graceless when it came to myself. I blamed myself. I thought that I could have done more to keep him here. My mother and brother didn't grieve the same as I and my crybaby self couldn't understand why.
Everyone grieves differently. Extend grace to yourself and your family during the grieving process.
TREAT YOURSELF WITH CARE A LOT OF SELF CARE
I thought grieving the woman I used to be prior to becoming a mother was bad. The woman I became after I lost my father totally let herself go. I don't know what happened but after months of not eating, not practicing self-care, not making time for myself--I plummeted. To be honest, I'm just getting out of that place four years later. You have to remember your loved one is gone but you still have air to breathe and you must continue living and taking care of yourself.
TAKE THE "L"
It is a big one to take but you have to accept death for what it is---a loss. Mark it as a loss and try with everything in you to keep moving forward. I held on to my dad's spirit so much that he would come into my dreams literally every night for a week. I wouldn't let him go. I had to come to terms that he would never come back. No matter how many times I prayed to sweet baby Jesus to give me a one day pass to heaven he just wasn't coming back.
Honor your loved ones with small rituals, sacred spaces like altars or make up a tradition. But, their soul and you will never rest in peace if you don't take the L.
KEEP SOME TRADITIONS AND START NEW ONES TOO.
My dad was a very disciplined, predictable, and traditional guy. My household was a comforting and very traditional family household. Friday night we ate out as a family, my mom cooked on Sundays, we watched television together, visited family as a family--ya know. It is probably one of my favorite things about my family. Although, my parents were young they were very traditional. During the holidays, I've learned in order to honor my dad and handle grief as best as I can, I should try to keep some of the traditions. Christmas Eve, I play music for Amira, we eat, we don't do the Santa thing (my dad is probably rolling over in his grave) and we wake up to each other with gifts and love.
I've also started new ones as well so that the day I'm no longer with Amira on Earth she'll have memories to share with her own children (please wait until married, traveled the world, and ready).
The beauty in all of this and the whole idea of handling grief is actually seeking joy and celebrating death. Years of studying, learning how other cultures honor and celebrate death allowed me to place death and grief in a much better perspective. The only thing for sure in this realm of life is that we will all go. We don't know the date but we will go. Death is a beautiful process most of the time. It is an energy just like life. Finding the joy in your loved one living a fulfilled life and now transitioning to a better place constitutes joy. UNSPEAKABLE JOY.
You should seek joy in the process of getting to the place where you are content with the little hole that can't be replaced but knowing you can still live and breathe and enjoy the remainder of your life.
If you or someone you know is having a difficult time handling grief during the holidays, how do you cope?