Dealing With Grief During the Holiday Season

 By Chloe JonPaul, M. Ed.

chloe-2As the holiday season approaches, there are many persons dreading the very thought of it.  This may be due to the recent loss of a loved one, divorce, serious illness, family friction, diminished finances, and much more. 

Whatever the reason, now is the time to become proactive in dealing with your grief.  There are effective tools to help you wage your battle with grief or help someone you know who is facing this dilemma.

The first order of business is to “remember the reason for the season.”  At Thanksgiving we have so much to be thankful for in our own lives.  When you hear about the devastation and heartbreak of others in our world, you are sure to find much in your own life to be grateful for.  At Christmas we are meant to celebrate the birth of Christ.  This is a perfect time to reflect on how and why He chose to come to us.  There was “no room at the inn” for Him so what do we have to complain about if our financial situation is poor at the moment?

If you have experienced the loss of a loved one recently, getting into the “holiday spirit” will be difficult but you have the option to do several things to make it less painful.

How about creating a special tribute to your loved with the family?

  • Set a place at the table with your loved one’s photo and a lit candle beside it. 
  • After the blessing before meals, give a toast to him/her along with family members. 
  • Read or tell something about that person that is especially memorable.

If you have experienced a divorce or failed relationship prior to the holidays, you may want to consider going away to a resort in order to avoid family and friends. 

This might work for some but the holiday season is global so there is no guarantee this will help.  If you want to be alone, try to balance it by reaching out to less fortunate.  There are homeless shelters, long-term care facilities, and foster care agencies who would welcome your help.  Offer to baby-sit for neighborhood children so their parents can have a night out.

Gift giving can take the form of sending a donation to Kiva as a gift in the name of a family member or friend. If you feel that you have to purchase gifts, shop online or by catalog and avoid the frustration of shopping malls.

Holiday decorating can be minimized but it is wise to remember that it will bring a warm glow into your home at a time when you need it the most.  Even if you limit it to your dining/living room area, it will serve as a reminder that life does, indeed, go on… a gentle reminder that you must do likewise.

Make a list of all the people who need your prayers: the lonely, the forgotten, the abandoned, abused, rejected, alienated, the despondent, the destitute, the suffering and dying, and others who may be grieving like you.  Your prayer of intercession can become a powerful force before the throne of God.  And guess what?  You will be on the road to renewed joy!

The Mayo Clinic offers some excellent advice on stress, depression, and the holidays.  For more information, visit: http://www.tuesdayschildren.org/programs/counseling/360-coping-with-holiday-stress

In addition to being a longtime member of the NABBW, a hospice and homeless shelter volunteer, world traveler and an advisory board member for the Maryland Dept. of Aging\’s Healthcare Commission and their Interagency Commission for Aging Services, Chloe Jon Paul, M.Ed., is a retired educator -turned-writer with four published books to her credit. Her first book, What Happens Next? A Family Guide to Nursing Home Visits… and More, was originally published in paperback, and is now available on Kindle. Subsequent books  include Entering the Age of Elegance,  a travel guide for Baby Boomer women, complete with curiosity-evoking subtitles as Change Your Oil Filter, The FGA Quotient, The F-Word You Need to Use, The 10 Commandments of Aging Motherhood, and Just Heard It through the Grapevine. Recently she\’s turned out  a novel, This Business of Children, and a children\’s book, The Girl Who did Not Like Her Name. Chloe is also a co-author with David Mezzapelle in his latest book, Contagious Optimism, and featured in Don McAuley’s book, 50 Great Writers You Should Be Reading.