Choices in Senior Care Blog

Addressing Grief During the Holidays

Posted by Jen W on Dec 13, 2016 4:39:08 PM

I've written about grief before, and I think I mentioned how weird it is; how it can lay dormant and you practically forget about it but then....something happens or you hear a song or smell a fragrance or it just pops up out of that nowhere it was and boom! It grabs you and envelops you afresh. That is just how grief does.

The holidays can be particularly difficult, especially if this is the first Christmas or the first birthday or the first whatever was special for you. Can I please give you permission to feel the grief? I think it just gets stronger and holds you tighter in its grip the more you try to push it away, wish it away or ignore it. So let's hold hands for a moment and talk about this thing called grief.

There was a meme on social media that said grief is the love we have left for someone that we didn't get to share with them, and I think there's something to that. I know that in my own experience, my mom died suddenly and the grief experience has been all over the map for me. We weren't particularly close, so in many ways I don't think I appreciated who she was or the gifts she imparted to me, and I certainly didn't express much gratitude to her, and that includes love. Since I didn't spend that love on her in life, it finds me in the form of grief now. Grief that I didn't call her nearly as often as I could have, grief that I didn't ask her how much water to add to the potatoes in the green chile potato soup recipe, grief that she didn't get to enjoy her grandchildren in part to my lack of effort, and on it goes. So what shall I do with this mess of grief? As I often do, I turn to Barbara Karnes, RN, author, and voice for bereavement and end of life issues. In one of her recent blog posts, she suggested that one could write a letter to the deceased person and tell them all the things you are holding, the good, the bad and the ugly. If you give these held thoughts expression, they can no longer hold their power over you. I think that's good advice.

Dear Mom......

Maureen Willis, RN, BSN, PAC Consultant

Tags: education, grief, grief during the holidays, Holidays, meaningful connections

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