During this time of the year, why would I write about the difficult subject of grief and loss? Isn’t this the time to enjoy the Christmas decorations, the “Merry Christmas” greetings, and singing Joy to the World? loss?
Yes, but the loss of a loved one can be particularly challenging during this season when memories of Christmases together come flooding back, along with all the conflicting questions associated with grief: Shouldn’t I be over this? Why can’t I feel happy?
Or maybe during this season, there is someone you know who is experiencing the loss of a loved one; needing your support by being open and present to their often silent sadness, but not knowing what to say.
It’s never easy, but to help get through these difficult situations, I’d like to share a few brief suggestions.
If you are grieving,
Accept the grief – do not try to “be brave”. Share your grief with family or a friend and if a friend tells you to “snap out of it” find another friend.
Keep busy – do work that occupies your mind.
Take care of yourself – you may feel you don’t care but that will change. You are important and valuable.
Eat well – at this point in your life you need good nourishment.
Exercise regularly – return to your old program or start a new one soon.
Get rid of the imagined guilt – you did the best you could. If you made mistakes accept that you, like everyone else, are not perfect.
Associate with old friends – this may be difficult, because some may be embarrassed by your presence, but they will get over it.
Join a group of others who are sorrowing – you may need new friends who have been through your experience. If interested, Providence offers grief support. Call 541-387-6449.
Postpone major decisions – for example, wait at least a year, if you can, before deciding to sell your house or change jobs.
Take advantage of your religious affiliations, if you have one – if you have been inactive this might be the time to become involved again.
Get professional help if needed – There comes a time to stop crying and to live again.
You may not be grieving, but if you know someone who is, what do you say? Often just listening, and a simple “I’m sorry” or a hug can show you care. And although tempting there are some things you may not want to say. For example:
“I could never handle what you are going through!” Don’t talk about how their loss affects you, or project what you would do.
Anything that starts with “At least”. Don’t try to force the person to be positive or to lighten their mood by saying something you think is funny about their situation.
“You’ll see her again someday.” Be careful referencing religion unless you’re certain the bereaved shares your faith.
“Stay strong”. Avoid telling them how to feel. They are in a difficult place and will move through their grief in their own way.
As we age, we will all experience the loss of loved ones. We will cope and carry on; and as Thomas Attig points out, we will meet the most difficult challenge “making the transition from loving in presence to loving in separation.”
Oops, I ran out of space trying to cover too much. Next week I won’t be so wordy and will include the answer to last week’s “Remember When” question.
But for this week, before Jim Carrey’s Grinch stole Christmas, there was an animated television special of the children’s classic, first shown in 1966. For this week’s “Remember When” question who was the voice of the Grinch ( the narrator) playing one of his final roles? E-mail your question to firstname.lastname@example.org, call 541-296-4788, or mail it with a copy of the 1931 science fiction horror film Frankenstein.
Well, it has been another week kicking down the cobblestones and feeling groovy. Until we meet again, keep searching because you never know what you’ll find.
“To get through the hardest journey we need take only one step at a time, but we must keep stepping.” Chinese Proverb