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Handling Grief at the Holidays

handling-grief-at-theWith the holidays upon us, I felt it only natural to talk about how I choose to handle grief during the holiday celebrations. Each year it gets a bit easier, but each year I am reminded of what is gone. Last Christmas was the first Christmas without my dad and the 3rd Christmas without Jakob. Recently we had a debacle in the house over mashed potatoes. Initially that responsibility was delegated to someone else and then it came back on my plate for food that needed to be prepared. I had a very emotional moment over these mashed potatoes, literally crying over the fact that I would have to cook these mashed potatoes.  After talking through it I realized that it had nothing to do with the mashed potatoes and everything to do with the fact that I was missing my dad. Below are five things that I choose to do to help keep my sanity, allow myself time to remember my son and my dad and continue to be a presence for my family

Pay it forward

This comes in many different forms. It can be in the shape of purchasing a cupcake or other food item for the next person in line. Knowing that I am not the only person in the world suffering from a loss, and taking a moment to complete a kind act for someone in the honor of my loved one allows me to still feel connected to them.

Take time for me

As a Mom this can be difficult to accomplish but I know how important it is for the soul. I can’t be the best mom to my child if I am stressed, overwhelmed and exhumed by my grief. By taking some time for me, I allow myself to recharge those batteries, step through my grief and cleanse my soul.

Talk about the memories

We actively talk about my dad and Jakob in this household. Some might argue that this isn’t appropriate for a young child. It is important to us that Ella-Grace does not forget about her brother and her PopPop. They were both so much a part of her life and it allows us to help her through her grief. It also allows me to remember what it was like to have them here and allow my imagination to wonder how things would be if they were here.

Not hold unrealistic expectations

It is just plain hard when things don’t go your way. When you mix multiple people together in the same room, emotions are going to come up and no holiday celebration is going to look the same exact way it does in the movies. Do not hold any unrealistic expectations. The meal will still be tasty even if there are not enough mashed potatoes. Company will still be great even if cranky Auntie Bee says something negative. Spending time with others and deepening the connections with others is where it matters.

Accept the feelings as they come and breathe through them

No matter what you do the feelings are going to come. Own it when it happens, lean into it and accept that it is what you are feeling in that moment. It has nothing to do with the mashed potatoes or the negative comments but everything to do with the fact that you have one less person at the table.  Grief likes to sneak up on you. Lean into, walk with it and say hello to it. By acknowledging it, you are being so helpful to yourself.

I, for one, know how difficult it is to follow each of these. Often times, I forget these and let the trigger get a hold of me because I don’t want to bother anyone with my grief. Don’t be afraid to ask for help. What works for you????

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