Grief Takes No Holidays

For those experiencing sorrow—whether through death, separation, divorce, illness, job loss or relocation—the glittering commercialism and unrelenting cheer of the holiday season can be stressful.

Facing any holiday or special occasion with an empty chair at the table can make unbearable grief so much worse, says Karen Silbert, MD, Associate Professor of Anesthesiology at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles, who suffered the loss of her five-month-old daughter.

Many people believe that anyone who has experienced great loss should be “over it” in six months or so. If only that were true. Emotions of the bereaved can be terribly raw. It can be difficult for them to cope in social situations during the holidays, when tears would be out of place, Silbert says.

At holiday time, many who are dealing with loss are caught in a dilemma between needing to grieve and feeling pressured to “get into the spirit” of the season.

Grief Takes No HolidaysBut holidays can stimulate memories and a renewed wave of pain, which feels even more pronounced. And it’s not only holidays that may trigger deep feelings of new or renewed grief. Birthdays, anniversaries and other special occasions present a challenge for many, even after years have passed.

Though the experience of grief may ebb and flow, many grief counselors and experts believe it never completely disappears. But, while those who are grieving may feel even greater hurt during the holidays, they may also find new hope and healing for their aching hearts.

Tending Grief

Here are some suggestions from bereavement expert Dr. Judith Johnson—author, educator, life coach and interfaith minister—to help the bereaved maintain inner balance during the holidays.

  1. Reach out to friends, family, clergy and anyone who can give you comfort and solace during this difficult time.
  1. Pay attention and be deeply honest with yourself about what you need to do and not do through the holidays or other significant occasions. Be patient, kind and compassionate with yourself about what is true for you.
  1. Take loving care of yourself. Grief expresses in many ways. Give yourself permission to feel lethargic, grumpy or out of sorts. Stay focused on what’s happening inside you and tend to yourself as you would anyone else you love deeply.
  1. Anticipate and plan ahead. “Don’t wait for others to make plans for you that may or may not have anything at all to do with what you really need,” Dr. Johnson said. “Face your truth and communicate what you need.”
  1. Make room for your grief or sadness. “Grief is a very private matter and the holidays have a way of magnifying it,” Dr. Johnson counsels. “Welcome your grief. Your sadness and tears are expressions of the healing process.” Embrace your grief and trust that it is helping you heal.
Author’s content adapted under license, © 2008 Claire Communications
  

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About djwlifecoach

As a coach, author, speaker, singer, artist, consultant, radio host, Reiki Master and EFT/tapping practitioner, I share hope, possibilities and empowerment with the world. What's love got to do with minimizing stress and getting unstuck? Everything! My book, "Choose Your Energy: Change Your Life!" (Hay House/Balboa Press 2013) shares my story and the stories of 10 of my clients along with my signature Discovery Framework. During my 30 years as an organization transformation consultant, I served as a senior partner in four of the world's largest, most prestigious global professional services firms. In 2005, I took a five-year sabbatical to find healing and peace because non-stop work had taken its toll. My recovery from burnout, including a sustained 80-pound weight loss and freedom from 10 years of debilitating depression, led to finding my purpose guiding others on their journeys. Through healing and self-exploration, I discovered that loving yourself unconditionally is the key to transforming your personal life, your work and the world. With attention and intention, I learned to live in alignment with love through a wealth of energy-shifting tools and techniques that help me reduce stress, anxiety and overwhelm by releasing limiting beliefs, emotions and habits. My books, blog, radio show and signature coaching programs help individuals and organizations harness the transformative energy of love to turn unexplored possibilities into fulfilling realities and step into their greatness. To learn more about my work in the world, visit djwlifecoach.com. Subscribe to my blog at tiny.cc/djwblog. Listen to my radio show at tiny.cc/djwradio. View my author video and book trailer at tiny.cc/djwauthorvideo and tiny.cc/djwbooktrailer. Access 40+ tapping resources at tiny.cc/djwtaps. Send email to deborah@djwlifecoach.com. For fun, I love singing, reading, sewing, knitting and movies. I live in Williamsburg, Virginia with my husband, Wilson, and the three coaching cats who manage my life—SiddhaLee, Mortimer and Maisy Jane.
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