Grief Brief # 5
The holidays have come and gone, and hopefully, your experience of them was pleasant and gratifying. Being in the presence of family and friends is heart-warming for most grieving persons. It is hoped that you came to enjoy some new traditions that were different, but totally satisfying to all who participated in the holiday celebrations with you.
Now we face the winter months of January to March with their cold, snowy, or dreary days. The changes that have occurred in nature can easily add to the sad or lonely feelings we may be experiencing. Time in-doors during the cold or inclement weather affords us the opportunity to spend some quiet time looking at where we have come in our grief journey or how we are moving forward with our lives. Do we find ourselves having more energy to engage in meaningful activities like exercise, get-togethers with friends, sincere efforts at maintaining health and well-being, as well as engaging in hobbies or pastimes we have enjoyed in the past? These may have been a part of our lives before we were consumed with care-giving activities or the loss itself. Do something nice or something fun that will help in coping with any of the restrictions that Winter places upon us.
It is important to remember that your deceased loved ones would not desire that you remain trapped in the sadness of grief. They would rather wish that you explore ways to live a happy and fulfilling life in the days to come. So, choose to take the winter months to gather new insights and into discovering what can brighten the days and weeks of this new year that is unfolding.
In last month’s grief note we addressed up-coming holidays and how to prepare for them. Well, we have already experienced the 1st of the series. Hopefully, it went better than expected.
Coming on the heels of Thanksgiving are Christmas, Hanukah, and Kwanza, with New Year’s Day not far behind them. I do hope that none of you succumbed to aloneness and isolation during Thanksgiving and that pattern not be repeated for the holidays to come.
Christmas can be most stressful because of the consumerism that pervades our society. Buying gifts, decorating the home, preparing a suitable feast are all the expected activities. Spare yourself all of these efforts by keeping them as simple as possible. Accept the assistance of family members and friends. Be open to invitations that come your way, but set time limits as to how long you will participate. Also, give yourself the freedom to not accept invitations to gatherings if that is what you need to do this year. Remember, don’t isolate!
Spend some quiet time alone on a given holiday, remembering the wonderful experiences you enjoyed when your loved one was much a part of your life. The rest of your day could be spent with others, if that is what is feasible for you. At a holiday gathering do mention the name of your deceased loved one, either during the prayer shared before the meal or during a toast that is made. Be the initiator of these activities. Don’t hesitate to start a discussion, with the group that has gathered, about holidays past. This is when enjoyable, even funny events happened with your deceased loved one as a part of them. This will lighten everyone’s spirits and will provide younger members of the family a better insight into the person of their deceased loved one.
I wish you love, peace, and joy during the holidays that are ahead of us. May they be peace-filled and marked with loving memories – new ones and old ones, as well.
Grief Briefs Part 3
The holidays are fast approaching and, no doubt, have induced a lot of concern among grieving persons. Because the holidays of : Thanksgiving, Hanukka, Christmas, Kwanza, and New Years entail a coming together of friends and family, the absence of a significant other who has died is keenly felt.
To manage some of the stress-filled and foreboding thoughts and feelings regarding holiday celebrations it is wise to approach each event one by one. Looking at what one will do to prepare for each special occasion requires a peaceful spirit and a practical mindset. Things this year, and years to come, will be different. There is a deep absence felt.
Planning ahead in one’s own mind is quite important-“What do I want to do?”, “How do I want events to unfold so that I am comfortable?” Including family and friends in the planning process is also very necessary. A rule of thumb is to simplify what is done and how it will be done. All need to be involved in the planning and the carrying out of the plans upon which the majority agree. Some will believe that all can go on “just as it used to be” Not so! Someone will be missing. What will not and should not change, however, is the coming together of friends and family members to share love and caring
Caring for oneself is a very necessary part of getting through the holidays with ease and grace. Consider what will be helpful and healing to you and choose that. Holidays are not a time for the grieving person to be alone or to retreat from all that could bring joy.
To share some of the ideas just discussed, St. Matthias is hosting its annual Pre-Holiday Workshop , to be held on November 19th ( the Saturday before Thanksgiving) from 10 AM to 12 Noon at its school. All grieving persons and their loved ones are welcomed to attend.
The address is: St. Matthias School 9475 Annapolis Rd. Lanham, MD 20770
If you would like more information feel free to contact: Miriam Jacik, the Grief Coordinator at (301) 345-6054, or just feel free to join us at the workshop.
The first grief note posted ended with the thought that family and friends can be the sustaining force and a great source of strength for those who are grieving. Because the grieving process is long, with some days being more difficult than others a support team is a must. Members of that team need not entail a multiplicity of persons. As few as 2 or 3 persons with caring hearts, ears willing to listen when the need arises, and a ready spirit to be there for you will suffice.
Because family members are themselves grieving persons, having trusted friends could be very helpful to form your support team. It is amazing how friends from one’s past can serve as the needed support persons. If your support persons have themselves experienced a loss or losses in their lives, this is a plus. They will be able to readily relate to your experiences.
In selecting your support team members the persons to be avoided are those who believe that they can “fix you” as you proceed into the future with your life. Those who impose suggestions, give what they consider to be wise counsel, the criticizers, and those who would rush you through your grief are to be eliminated from your list of support persons.
Take enough time to select well, and by all means ask our dear God for the wisdom to know who best will assist you. Having caring others to accompany you as you grieve, no matter how long the journey takes, is a true gift. Once you have received the commitment of your support team, be sure to express your gratitude to them periodically for the gift that their presence is to you.
As a follow-up to the information about the on-going Grief Support Group at St. Matthias Church in Lanham, there will be forth-coming grief notes to be shared with you, our readers.
Losses are much a part of each of our lives. Some are smaller losses, others are significant and heart-breaking.
Our smaller losses we experience for a much shorter period of time. We feel the disappointment, some sadness, or perhaps shed some tears. In several hours or perhaps in a few days we let go of some of the feelings and expectations we had, and are able to move on to other things in our lives.
Bigger losses, that bring more serious consequences, are those that entail losing a loved one to death or though divorce; losing health through a serious illness; or perhaps losing one’s financial well-being. The serious consequences include a deep sense of sadness and a feeling of complete disruption of one’s life. We grieve these losses for weeks, months, or perhaps a year or years. During that time we shed our tears, reminisce what we had, process our deep feelings, and expect healing to occur in time. This is grief, a process we can’t avoid or easily dismiss. It is a process through which each person must pass despite its difficulty. The love of family and friends can be our sustaining force.
St. Matthias the Apostle Parish welcomes those who have faced a significant loss to join its on-going Grief Support Group. Participants experience the support and caring of other grieving persons, as well as receive helpful information about grieving and the grief process. Sessions are held every Saturday from 9 – 10:30 AM in the school library.
New members will be integrated into the group beginning with the week of September 24th.
For more information contact: Miriam Jacik MSN, MS Psy, the Group Coordinator at (301) 345-6054. Or you just may feel free to come.
Miriam is the best of the best. You feel so much better after attending the group sessions. You can share with the group if you want and hear that you are not alone in your grief process. Just go and see what will happen to you.