Change your life today. Don’t gamble on the future, act now, without delay.
Simone de Beauvoir
To change the movement of your path, you just need to take one step each day. These steps don’t have to be big, they can be as small as you would like. The point is to take them. Grief can and will feel overwhelming when we overthink its presence and let it accumulate a cloud of sorrow over us.
Instead of letting the tidal wave of long-term grief drown you, think about grief day by day: What does my grief need today that I can give it so I can heal more today that yesterday? Change one thing about your life each day (whether it is your meal planning, your exercise regime, your coping strategies, or how you spend your free time) and watch overwhelm begin to recede. The longer you wait to take action, the deeper the overwhelm will become.
Today, make a list of things you can do to move toward healing. Tomorrow, do one thing from the list. Do another the day after that. Then keep going.
Mastering others is strength. Mastering yourself is true power.
The new year brings resolution fever. People create lists of habits they would like to break or new things they would like to do. However, these lists may not help those recovering from loss. What might grievers resolve to do in new years? Perhaps one way that “resolutions” can be applied to grievers is by resolving to commit to healing. If, as grievers, we can seek calm or order in our lives in 2020 we may begin by turning our gaze inward.
Rather than undertake a resolution, step toward renewal. Commit to self-mastery and to renewing your connection to yourself. Learn how to best cooperate with the tangled mind of grief, master its steps and quirks so that you may relate better to grief and forge a united path toward. Worry less about others, and concentrate more on the power you have within yourself to heal, gain calmness and clarity, and empower yourself in 2020.
A couple of weeks ago, I was walking through Trader Joe’s doing the weekly shop. My baby girl was sleepily bouncing along in her Baby Bjorn as I strolled the aisles. It was just after Thanksgiving and about two weeks before Christmas. Holiday items were out for sale and I was just beginning to think about what I needed to buy for holiday meals and what we generally liked to have around the house this time of year. Then, as I was walking by the frozen foods, I found myself having to take several deep breaths to calm an overwhelming urge to sob. It worked a little bit, I was still crying but not in any excessively noticeable way. And there I was, shopping in Trader Joe’s crying by frozen fruit and desserts because I missed my mom.
Christmas is a season not only of rejoicing but of reflection.
While we associate Christmastime with joy and excitement, for grievers the season may be a bit different. If you find the Christmas season neither joyful nor exciting, it’s okay. This week (and the weeks preceding) can be difficult if you are missing someone special. Take comfort in knowing that the season not just about being as happy as you can; it is also about reflecting on your life, your year, and your missing pieces. If heaviness settles over you this week, use the moment to reflect on why you feel what you feel, and remember the times and traditions you had with your lost loved one. Reflect on previous Christmases and be sure to include your loved one in your current holiday celebrations, whether with family or privately on your own.
You don’t have to be full of holiday cheer, especially if this is your first Christmas without your loved one; you can be quiet and reflective. Do the best you can, because that is all you can ask of yourself right now.
It’s well past the time to consider gifts for the holidays. I am a bit late in getting my gift guide out; nevertheless, better late than never as they say. I’ve curated a selection of Avon items below. I’ve included self-care items as well as items that can be considered memorial gifts. Whether you are purchasing these gifts for yourself or a griever in your life, the selection here is meant to focus on celebrating the life lived and on personal healing.
Your pain is the breaking of the shell that encloses your understanding.
Loss comes with pain; emotional and physical. Unfortunately, it is part of the process and we cannot get around it. Often, we seek ways to avoid the pain, to numb ourselves to it. Some distractions are healthy, others not. While the pain is overwhelming and may return to you when you least expect it, consider that grief pain plays an important role in your healing. The pain is a revelation. It pulls the curtain back on the depth of your love and your heartbreak. It peels away the veneer of your security to unveil vulnerability. It removes the barriers to a deeper knowledge of yourself, your loved one, and the grief supporters surrounding you. Before you move to block pain, try changing your perspective on the purpose that pain serves. It is not here just to wound you; it is here to reveal something to you.
We are slowly approaching the new season and the new year, the changing of our calendar. Each year we either look toward these changes with excitement or with trepidation. Regardless, change comes. We can count on very little in life to be predictable, except change. We may not be able to say when things will change in life, since life doesn’t always operate on a handy calendar schedule. We may not enjoy the changes (predictable or not) that comes into our lives. Yet we may be able to rest some certainty on the fact that change is consistent. What makes change uncomfortable is that we are powerless to stop it.
Change is inevitable and accepting such a powerful change is required. The more readily we as grievers can come to accept the changes that comes with loss, the better. Accepting the change does not mean losing the loved one forever; it means that we can begin to move forward in healing.
This is the fourth holiday season without my mother. It still feels awkward. It is especially so this year, since I have a baby now and no mother to spoil her with gifts. I still haven’t quite gotten used to not buying a gift for my mother at Christmas and I find myself thinking about what she would have done for this first Christmas to make the holiday special for my wee one.
We discuss gratitude quite frequently at this time of year, of giving thanks for what we are grateful to have. What if we take time to focus on the later part of the holiday’s title: Thanksgiving. In giving to others we are able to receive more than we anticipate, and in actuality, get what we’ve wanted all along. We want love; give it. We want peace; give it. We want appreciation; give it. We want understanding; give it. What we’ll find is that by giving to others the very thing we want, we will receive it as well.
As a griever this holiday, consider giving to others the very thing you are craving this time of year. If you want the warm feeling of family at the dinner table, invite people to your table. If you want to feel loved and remembered this holiday, make your family and friends feel loved and remembered. If you wish you had the love and presence of your lost loved one, give the gift of love and presence to someone else.
As a griever, you have a lot to give to others in the areas of compassion, empathy, sympathy, and love. This holiday consider the ways in which your grief has enabled you to give more than before.
Make New Year’s goals. Dig within, and discover what you would like to have happen in your life this year. This helps you do your part. It is an affirmation that you’re interested in fully living life in the year to come. -Melody Beattie
Last year has passed and the new year, with its blank calendar spaces, is open and waiting for us. Rather than set resolutions, create goals to accomplish this year. Being part of a forward-moving life is important for grievers. Setting goals helps us move forward. What would you like to see develop for yourself in 2019?
If you are newly grieving, goals may seem difficult to set. How do you set goals when a part of your life is missing? Focus on small goals. Create a short list of small things you can accomplish over the course of the year rather than large resolutions that require more energy and time than you have available. Or consider setting one larger goal that you can break into smaller incremental units that you can accomplish weekly or monthly. This will allow you to tackle the larger goal in bits and pieces.
Throughout 2019 keep your goals in mind. Remind yourself that you are working toward something every day. The progress may seem slow (especially if you are impatient), but remember you have over 350 days to get there. That is more than 350 small steps toward accomplishing your goal.
Sit for a time and reflect on the question: what would I like to see for myself this year? What do I need the most to rebalance my life in 2019? Journal for 30 minutes to help your goal(s) emerge.
For it is in giving that we receive. -Francis of Assisi
The holidays are a complicated time. They pack excitement and joy, alongside sadness, loneliness, and pain. The season is a reminder of traditions that you will no longer share with a lost loved one.
As a griever, our holiday needs are a little different. We gift lists contains things like getting the person we lost back in our lives, feeling love that we haven’t received in a while, getting a hug that solves dilemmas, and being surrounded by laughter that only lives in memory now.
While no one can package those intangibles for us in gift bags, we can get some of what we need by giving to others. Rather than focusing on what we want that we are missing, we can think about what we have to offer to others who might be equally in need this season.
Consider volunteering your time and/or your talents at this time of year: serve meals to those who are unable to acquire them on their own, donate gifts, craft household and clothing items for families, or help out at charity and fundraising events.
By giving to others out of love, we receive the things we need most this time of year: love and comfort.