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Coping with a Grieving Christmas

For many people, this past year has brought an unexpected twist in their life journey. When someone you care about dies, your whole world looks and feels different, and with it this Christmas. For everyone else, it is the season to be jolly; it’s the most wonderful time of the year. But the grieving person probably doesn’t feel the same about their world this Christmas.

I have three gifts for a grieving Christmas.

My first Gift is for YOU:

Maybe you are facing this Christmas season with dread:

  • Recognize that this Christmas is different.
  • Plan Ahead. Decide what YOU want to do. Act rather than react.
  • Re-examine your priorities
  • Avoid “shoulds” and “oughts”
  • Make the changes you think are best
  • Take responsibility for your own happiness.
  • Look after Yourself. Don’t abandon healthy habits
  • Be compassionate with yourself if things are not perfect this year

The next Gift focuses on YOUR LOVED ONE:

They may be gone, but they will be very much on your mind:

  • Acknowledge your loved one’s presence
  • Light a Memorial candle to remember them at this season
  • Create a special tribute to your loved one. Involve children in this if you can
  • Be honest about your feelings, and be sensitive to what they are trying to say to you
  • Don’t be afraid to Relive your Memories
  • Let the light of the years shine on the event rather than letting the event cast its shadow on the years

My third gift has to do with FAMILY AND FRIENDS:

Others around are probably grieving too. How can we work together to make this Christmas meaningful, even if not merry:

  • Balance Solitude and Sociability.
  • Ask for and accept Help.
  • Set differences aside.
  • Learn to say “No”.
  • Take a break from things.
  • Try to find something positive in your life.
  • Take care of any children involved.
  • Try to do something to help someone else who is hurting.

Finally we need to face the future with hope. There’s a verse in the Christmas story of the Wise Men that often goes unnoticed. After finding the baby in Bethlehem, and presenting their gifts, they returned home “by a different route”. They had to find a different road forward than the way they had come. When you have experienced bereavement, you suddenly find that life has taken on a whole new direction. And we find ourselves and our lives having to go on in a whole new direction.

Sometimes in life we have to find new ways to get to where we need to be.

Perhaps you face this Christmas with some apprehension, and, this year, you feel like the light has gone out of your life. Nothing seems quite right, and you wonder if you have the strength to go on. But my friends, no matter how dark your situation, remember one thing. There is not enough darkness in the whole universe to hide the light of even one candle. Even when there is a flicker of hope, that spark overcomes the gloom. It may not banish it altogether, but it is never completely dark as long as there remains one glimmer of hope.

So come on, and light a candle. Light a candle this Christmas in memory of your loved one, but also light a candle for yourself … to indicate that you believe there is hope that you will find your way through the darkness, even though you are heading home in a different direction than the one you expected or wanted.

So, this Christmas season, hold on to what is important.

  • Celebrate the person’s life as well as acknowledging their death
  • Don’t allow looking back at the past to spoil what you have in the present
  • Enjoy what you HAVE as well as grieving what you’ve LOST
  • Believe that there are reasons to go on, even though you may not see what they are right now.
  • Believe in people, in life, in love and laughter, and in hope!
  • Believe in yourself, that your determination will help get you through.
  • Believe that life is important and can still be meaningful no matter how difficult your circumstances
  • Believe in a brighter tomorrow, and in possibilities beyond your bravest dreams.

You will be surprised how that flickering flame of hope will continue to burn, even though it may not be easy. Your supply of strength and patience may seem low, but hang in, because no matter what has shattered your hopes, your dreams or even broken your heart … you are not beyond repair!

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