Hey my loves! First off, let me get this straight. Y’all know I like to keep it real with you. There is no one way street to get through your pain. You’ll take several different twists, turns, detours, and U-turns to get here.
Everyone grieves differently, so it shouldn’t surprise you when I tell you the process we go through to deal with our pain will also look different from one person to another. There ain’t nothing cute about grief sis!
The purpose of today’s post is to help you somewhat loosen the grip grief has on you so you can try to be present and enjoy this holiday season. Now that we have that out of the way, let’s get to it.
Expect people to say the wrong thing:
I’m pretty sure you’re tired of hearing: “I’m praying for you, sorry for your loss, things will get better, keep trusting God, you’re not the first or last person who will have to go through this, What happened was for the better.”
Yes, these types of phrases can become very redundant real quick, and may sound extremely insensitive. While some people really do have great intentions, their words may cut you deeper than they’ll ever know. The people who are genuinely concerned may be repeating what they’ve heard for years. So, that’s what they tell you with hopes of it helping and encouraging you. For some, that’s what seriously helped them during their own period of deep grief.
Be mindful that certain phrases may ruin your mood and cause you to isolate yourself from the people who really love and care about you. Communication is key this holiday season. What you say to yourself and others is very important.
All things considered, try not to be offended by these comments if you receive them. I know that may be a lot to ask of you, so if you’re offended, then be offended. It’s ok. They’ll be ok.
GRACE…show it to yourself…show it to your loved ones.
I get it. I really do. It’s hard. I don’t want to minimize your pain at all. Honestly I want you to deal with it. I want you to face it. I want you to feel it. That’s the only way you will heal and get through it.
Can I share a little bit of my story with you here?
I’ve been divorced almost 2 years now. Actually, it’s closer to 3 years now that I’m finally hitting publish on this post *self hug*. I wasn’t as ready as I thought I was to share the news in writing, especially on a public platform, until I wrote it.
I was determined and refused to be one of those bitter women who’s always sad because their story didn’t have a Cinderella ending and someone else’s did. If I’m honest, it was hard. It was very hard. I had to do a lot of praying.
Not only did I have to deal with the “death” of my marriage, that I prayed intently and fervently for God to restore, I also had to deal with the death of my grandmother who was rushed to the hospital a few hours after we walked out of court single.
I felt like two pieces of my heart were being ripped out of my chest simultaneously.
When my grandmother died I appeared strong for my family. Once the dirt settled and all of my family was gone back home, it hit me. It hit me really hard. I went into a state of isolation. I did what was absolutely necessary and rarely interacted with family and friends. If I could avoid people, I did.
I didn’t know that I hadn’t properly processed my grief until it all came rushing through the doors of my heart at once. When I say a sister was beyond overwhelmed by her emotions…whew!
One of the ways I forced myself to deal with my grandmother’s death was by attending a small gathering my family had at her gravesite. We sang songs, reflected on her life, and released balloons that were her favorite color.
We received so much peace when the final balloon started to disappear into the clouds, and from behind them appeared a beautiful white dove that signified peace. I imagined my grandmother speaking through the dove to us with these words, “It is finished. I have ran my race. I am safe with the Father. It is well with my soul. Live right. Live holy. Until we meet again.”
There is hope on the other side of grief. As a matter of fact, there is hope in grief.
We just don’t always feel hopeful. And that’s ok. Take one day at a time.
I pray these strategies will help you get through the holidays without your loved one:
- Create a plan for how you want to spend the holidays. If you decide to spend it with friends and family, create an escape plan that will allow you the freedom to leave when you’re ready. If you feel compelled to do it, share your plan with a close friend or family member who’s attending so they will know to check in with you later if you disappear. People really do care about you.
- Accept the change and feel good about what you need to feel good about with the holidays. If nothing feels good, don’t try to make it.
- Take some time to reflect and see what’s best for you. If you don’t feel like entertaining, don’t. If you don’t want to put up a Christmas tree, don’t.
- Look for ways to give back and serve others who aren’t as fortunate as you are, or find a way you can honor your loved one’s memory. I personally feel joyful when helping others, but for someone else that may be a trigger for them and remind them that their loved one is no longer here.
- Allow yourself to feel the pain, rather than trying to escape it. Being vulnerable, emotionally, can feel very strange and uneasy for you, but dealing with your pain and emotions now will only help you in the long run.
- Some days you may feel happy and some days you may feel sad, whatever you’re feeling is ok. Don’t lie to yourself and pretend to feel something you’re not. No one is judging you, and you shouldn’t either.
- It’s ok to say no without having to explain why.
- Give yourself permission to alter or completely do away with your traditions. I had to alter our Christmas tradition a little after getting divorced. It felt strange the first year, but now I get so excited about the new memories my children and I are making.
You will get through it:
The holidays can be extremely tough and challenging, but you will get through it. You will find yourself becoming stronger and able to get back into the swing of things overtime. Grief, at times, will consume us and blind us to what is going on around us. However, there is light at the end of the tunnel.
We may not be able to physically see our loved one(s), but we can see a little bit clearer through the windshield of our tears as the days, months, and years go on.
“Holiday season” usually refers to the holidays that take place during the fall and winter months. These months are generally a lot colder and darker. People tend to grieve harder because they are inside the house more. It’s important to find safe ways to periodically get outside of the house. If you haven’t read my post on how I deal with Seasonal Depression you can read it here.
You determine when you’re ready:
My last piece of encouragement is, if you’re not ready, don’t be. Take your time darling. This is your process. You don’t have to rush to the finish line, because once you think you’ve arrived, you realize a finish line doesn’t exist when it comes to grief.
Remember, you don’t have to carry everyone’s burden. You don’t even have to carry your own.
Psalm 55:22 says, “Our LORD, we belong to you. We tell you what worries us, and you won’t let us fall.”
Go ahead and fall at his feet, so he can safely catch you and carry you until you’re able to walk on your own again.
In love and grace,