A HOLIDAY MESSAGE
The cool, dreary, rainy days of November signal the coming of winter in Louisiana. Instinctively, we seek a place of warmth and comfort to sustain us through the cold, bleak days ahead. And before we know it, the thoughts of Thanksgiving and Christmas fill us with joyful anticipation of family gatherings, preparation of festive meals, and the hustle and bustle of Christmas shopping for just the right gifts for everyone.
For those who are grieving the loss of a beloved family member or friend, however, there may be little of the joy or warmth of the season. Rather there can be intense pain, emptiness, dread and confusion. Often, there is anger (conscious or unconscious) as we observe other families engaging in the fun and festivities of the season. To us, it simply does not seem fair that we are now without our beloved. And, of course, we are right. It is not fair!
A grieving widow once said, “I would like to go to sleep and not wake up until the holidays are over!”—a typical reaction that most grievers can relate to! But others have survived the holidays and you will, too. We would like to offer some suggestions that might help you through this difficult time.
First of all, spend some quiet time reflecting on, and evaluating, your physical and mental state of being. Acknowledge your limitations. You are not functioning at a normal capacity at this time. Holiday preparation can be a stressful time, physically and mentally, for everyone, even for those who are not grieving a loss. Often we set unrealistic expectations for ourselves, or worse yet, attempt to live out of others’ expectations of us. Before we realize it, we are caught up in the hectic hustle and bustle that depletes us of energy and leave us with a feeling of “What is it all for?”
Look at your priorities and decide what you can handle comfortably while at the same time, being sensitive to other family members and their needs. Let your needs be known to family and friends. If you feel guilty about “being so selfish,” remind yourself that you are only taking care of yourself.
Do not be afraid to make changes.
Tradition is important but only if it works for you. It may provide the structure you need. On the other hand, now may be the time to start a new tradition, keeping what still works for you and letting go of what no longer fits for your life.
We are including other suggestions for surviving the holiday season and a memorial ritual using the advent wreath on the back of this letter. A holiday calendar with daily suggestions is also included.
Life will never be the same, but it can be good again. Death and grief change us, but do not have to destroy us. You are in a place of transition now, but gradually will experience the dawn of a new beginning. Trust yourself, and trust that Life will provide you with everything that you need.
Our warmest regards from The Center for Loss and Transition for a meaningful holiday season.
The Center for Loss and Transition
Hospice of Acadiana