Special to the Sun
The holiday season seems to have come a week or two early for me. Every year is like the year before — each consisting of the same traditions, the same festivities, and the same schedule. I don’t know how it has sneaked up on me. I usually have all of my Christmas shopping done by now, and my Thanksgiving and Christmas parties all planned. This year is different though, I’m behind on everything.
I have so much to be grateful for a loving husband, wonderful children, adorable grandchildren, and great friends. I live in the greatest country on earth, I enjoy the freedoms guaranteed me through the American constitution, and I can be whoever and whatever I want to be. What then is weighing on me?
I know perfectly well what is weighing on me. It is my attitude. I have endured the loss of family and friends this year, and I don’t want to do the work to overcome it. I have let time pass, ignoring my pain and sadness, as if I thought the passage of time would magically erase it.
The passage of time cannot be counted on to relieve the sufferings of grief.
This is especially applicable to spousal bereavement.
To obtain and sustain love, one must actively seek, cultivate, and nurture it.
Grief recovery, like love, is not obtained through passive means.
One must desire, seek, and cultivate their own recovery.
Those who share their love, rather than withhold it, seem to adjust to life without their loved one more easily.
Now that the holidays are upon me, I realize I should have pushed other things to the side and cultivated my recovery. Until I face my grief head-on and begin the process of willfully seeking grief recovery, I, like many others, will suffer the inevitability of recurring grief.
Success in moving through grief depends on your willingness to recover.
If you are the type of person that enjoys or thrives on being a victim, you will most likely travel very slowly through recovery.
You must decide that you want to recover; that you are willing to move your loved one into memory, and that you are going to overcome your heartache.
Without these decisions, you will remain trapped within your recurring grief cycle indefinitely.
The holidays are especially difficult for suffering grief. It feels as though the suffering increases 100 fold.
Holidays, birthdays, anniversaries, and especially the yearly loss anniversary, are incredibly stressful for survivors of loss.
The anticipation of these critical dates may sometimes be worse than the day itself.
If you have a close friend or relative, it may be a good idea to let them know that you might need extra understanding and support on these days.
Realizing that I have placed myself in a somewhat difficult holiday season, I will turn to those who can help me the most.
Family and friends can be an excellent resource for grief recovery.
Traveling to visit loved ones in other areas or having them visit the survivor, offers companionship that is familiar, uplifting, and relative to their life’s experiences.
After all, Thanksgiving and Christmas are centered around friends, family, and traditions. Therefore, I have restructured some of our family traditions and developed a few new ones for this time of year. I find that traditions help me enjoy my season through comforting familiarity.
Traditions are an excellent tool for grief recovery.
Observing traditions that were once enjoyed with the deceased helps us accept that they are gone from us physically, yet with us still, through the activities and love we shared.
Such activities, now traditions, will aid your family by anchoring them securely to their heritage.
Observing traditions stabilizes a family through loss, expansion, and changing environments.
After writing this article, evaluating my situation and deciding to change my attitude, I feel better about the season. My family and friends will share their warmth and joy with me, and in turn, I will relax and enjoy my time with them. I will enjoy a bonus this year. My daughter and her husband will seal their bonds of holy matrimony just before Thanksgiving. I look forward to this experience and know that it will bring great joy to our family.
Life is a miraculous gift filled with remarkable experiences that bring joy and sometimes sadness. It is up to us to decide whether that sadness will crush us or strengthen us. I choose joy, happiness, strength, and family as the major players in my life. I will overcome grief and sadness by changing my attitude and actively cultivating recovery.
I realize that I am blessed beyond my comprehension through the gift of a wee babe born in a manger. His purpose was to change the world and save God’s children from eternal death and misery. He is the light that shines in all goodness, and he will one day raise the dead.
I look forward to that day. The day when you and I will live again in peace with our departed loved ones. What a glorious day that will be.
Happy holidays dear friends. I hope that you are joyful and not grieving; but, if grief weighs upon you, please seek recovery and find your way back to the Savior’s love and peace. Enjoy your time with loved ones, and discover the comfort in traditions as you experience and celebrate the gifts of the most wonderful time of year.
One more thing, if, at any time, you feel overwhelmed, please take a break and regain your focus on the good things in life. If you are unable to shake your grief and it becomes stifling, please call 911 and ask for immediate assistance. The holidays are for experiencing joy, not a loss. You matter, and even though you may not realize it, someone loves you and is depending on you to be there with them as they travel the highway of life.
For those who mourn; recovery is my Christmas wish.