‚ÄúI‚Äôll have a blue Christmas without you‚ÄĚ
Elvis did it.
His voice made famous (Jonson/Hayes) familiar lyrics about missing or losing someone and feeling ‚ÄúBLUE‚ÄĚ over Christmas.
Grief and loss during the holiday time, and that 1st Christmas without our ‚Äėloved one‚Äô around are especially challenging times emotionally.¬† Bells may ring out, calling people together, spreading holiday cheer, but when we‚Äôre sad, depressed or feeling ‚Äúblue‚ÄĚ‚Äď without your loved one, it‚Äôs hard to feel happy and upbeat.¬† Depression and emotional pain are difficult to live with at the best of times; even more so when we feel out of step with the season‚Äôs festivities.
People find it easy to give gifts, toys, or donations and forget that the most important thing in our lives are our RELATIONSHIPS.
Emotional pain is not a comfortable talk around the Holiday table. I remember as a child, that special moment when grandma & grandpa arrived for Christmas dinner.¬† Our family seemed bigger & brighter.¬† As kids, we even saved two of our gifts from the morning to ‚Äėunwrap‚Äô when we gave grandma & grandpa their gifts.¬† A tradition that continued after they died, saving at least one gift to open after the Christmas dinner.¬† Maybe delay gratification was a family trait?
If you‚Äôve lost your life partner, loved one or are facing the Holiday Season ‚ÄúALONE‚ÄĚ, here are some tips that can help you through your grief and lonely times:
ALONE AT CHRISTMAS? ‚Äď make a list in November of people you can call, write or¬†visit in December. Find some other friends who are also alone and plan a¬†holiday dinner together.
FEEL TOO OVERWHELMED TO COOK?: Then don’t.¬† Scale down your decorating,¬†baking & cooking. Instead of cooking a big turkey, try a smaller turkey roll or¬†make a ham, or roast.¬† Maybe just put up ¬Ĺ the decorations. Grief¬†takes time to get over. Don‚Äôt put extra pressure on yourself keeping up.
TALK ABOUT YOUR LOVED ONE:¬† I remember the awkward ‚ÄėSILENCE‚Äô our first¬†Christmas without grandma & grandpa.¬† Five minutes of silence felt like an¬†eternity. Finally I blurted out: ‚ÄúI miss grandma & grandpa, remember how grandma used to bring her shortbread,‚Ä¶‚Ä¶‚ÄĚ ‚Ä¶..pretty soon, each person was sharing a memory or story; and a few happy tears. Sharing memories & reminiscing over favorite family memories, helps honour and celebrate your loved one‚Äôs meaning, especially if it‚Äôs the first holiday without them.
FAMILY FAR AWAY?:¬† All alone in the retirement home with family in other¬†provinces?¬† Ask your family to gift you a ‚ÄėChristmas Dinner‚ÄĚ in a local¬†restaurant. Maybe even take along a friend who is also alone and celebrate together.
EXPRESS YOUR FEELINGS: If your grief makes you angry ‚Äď write it down in a¬†journal. Don‚Äôt put it in a letter to send or ruin someone else‚Äôs holiday. Let your painful feelings be expressed in a journal or one of the on-line journal sites.¬† Safe expression is better than bottling it up inside. Talking to a counselor can help.
SHOP & SHARE: Feeling sad over not being able to shop for your loved one?¬† Why not shop for something you might have purchased, and then donate it to homeless shelter or a charity?
BE GENTLE TO YOURSELF:¬† Cut yourself some slack.¬† Don’t over-do your¬†preparations or shopping.¬† Give yourself time to grieve.¬† It‚Äôs OK to say: ‚ÄúNo‚ÄĚ to¬†any activity (or alternatively ‚ÄúYes‚ÄĚ ). Give yourself permission to grieve and¬†do just what you‚Äôre able to do.
LIGHT A CANDLE:¬† Ask a religious leader or nursing home to create an area for¬†candles that can be lit in memory of loved ones during a service.
SPEND TIME WITH PEOPLE:¬† Especially positive ones. People who lift our spirits¬†help us stay involved with life.
EXERCISE REGULARLY: ¬†Get your blood pumping to help clear your mind.¬† Use¬†your walker to make a lap around the retirement residence. Do ankle circles¬†and flex your arms as if lifting weights while watching TV. The remote control or a can of soup makes a good barbell. Always check with your doctor on the type of exercise that‚Äôs safe for you.
EAT RIGHT: Chocoholics beware.¬† Overeating can mean a temporary high followed¬†by a low and January flab.
GIVE TO OTHERS: Volunteer or help someone else.¬† Nothing beats that good feeling¬†from helping others by volunteering.
LET THERE BE LIGHT!:¬† Enjoy sunlight. Get outdoors if possible.¬† Nursing homes¬†may have a Light Therapy reading area or buy a SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder) light.
SPIRITUAL POWER: A friendship with God or Higher Power can give hope and¬†strength to get through the dark times.¬† Victor Frankel found that during WWII.
BEWARE OF SCAMS:¬† Avoid telephone, email and door to door sales that prey on¬†the elderly.¬† Call the police if that call from someone who ‚Äėsounds like your grandchild‚Äô is asking for money over the phone.¬† Check with other family members before giving away your money.
GET HELP: Talking to a professional counselor may initially feel embarrassing but¬†can really help you get through a rough patch.
MEMORY ALBUM: Make a scrapbook or memory album of photos and letters.
SING A SONG:¬† It‚Äôs hard to feel down if you sing a happy song.
BE GRATEFUL: ‚ÄúMake Gratitude Your ATTITUDE and you‚Äôll have more latitude to navigate LIFE‚Äôs highs & lows.‚ÄĚ
Article By: John Henderson ¬©2010.