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Be Gentle with Yourself

I so tried to post yesterday. In fact, I spend quite some time setting up a really neat Christmas post (that required lines to be in a specific order, etc.); however, when I publish things, so often the spacing is all changed and it does not look at all like I planned…so frustrating! But typical for a Monday following the weekend I had.

My weekend began well. We went to see a live nativity and then the Festival of Lights in our area with some good friends. Both the nativity and the lights were “ok” but spending the evening with our friends was a lot of fun. I got up feeling heavy hearted on Saturday and, as the day progressed, really did not want to go to our Sunday school Christmas party that night – but I did. We had a good time and actually laughed quite a bit that night. However, Sunday morning I was so upset, I could not pull myself together in order to get to church!

Do you see a pattern….up, down, up, way down, up……etc. During the year, as I live with grief, I find I am able to “manage” a bit better. I can anticipate triggers, recognize when I’ve done enough or need to rest, and even be more in control of my emotions. During these holiday weeks, though, I just seem to feel a complete lack of control!

If you are grieving – or know someone who is – I wanted to share a few thoughts on dealing with the holidays…mind you, I’m still working on them myself.

First…acknowledge this time for what it is – the holidays are here! I hear so many grieving parents say they “aren’t doing the holidays…at all” – but this really does not work. You may deny it..but Christmas will still take place and for the weeks beforehand, it will be the “holiday season”. It will be much more beneficial to recognize how you feel/where you are this season and, then

Second…make a plan as to how you will handle the holidays. One of the most helpful things is to make a list of everything you associate with the holidays (the tree, cards, special events, presents, baking, decorating, etc.). Then determine for each thing on the list…1- I can skip this tradition this year, 2 – I really want to do this, or 3 – I would like to try this one but I need help with it.

It is OKAY to skip some (or a lot) of things. Don’t pressure yourself. For me, this year, it was the Christmas cards. I just can’t do them this year…even did them last year but trying to decide what to say – or even how to sign them – is just too much for me. And, Christmas will still be Christmas without my sending cards.

On the other hand, it would not be Christmas without certain things. I love giving gifts and get much joy shopping for others and choosing “just the right gift”………so that’s what I focus on.

And, there are a few things I really would like at Christmas but can be overwhelming without help. Please do not be afraid to ask for help. Those who love you WANT to help but waiting for others to read your mind is most often just discouraging for the both of you. This brings me to the story of my lights (and then I’m done for sure). I like the lights on the bushes and the banisters outside..but I like the inside tree more, of course. I was in one of my pity moments as I pulled all the decorations, lights, ornaments, etc. from their boxes. “Woe is me…how will I get all this done by myself!!” (Mind you..I had not asked anyone to help me..in fact, the rest of my family was not even home from work yet.) My daughter calls on her way home from work and is ecstatic…she had gotten off an hour early!! (apparently this is monumental in her life!) I mumbled under my breath that she could help with the decorating..and, wait, she was thrilled!! She – and the boyfriend – were there in minutes and ready to go..yeah! They even agreed to do the outside!! Fast forward about an hour later…they are done and, well, the lights are….interesting!

I have left those lights just like that for weeks. (Every fiber of my being wanted to “fix” the lights)…but why would anyone want to help me, if I’m simply going to fix their efforts afterwards? Those lights are a constant “love gift” to me…a reminder that all of us (my family) are working through this grief through the holidays together – and we can create a beautiful season together.

4 thoughts on “Be Gentle with Yourself

  1. Jennifer,

    I can really relate to how you’re feeling. I believe I’ve told you before, but I lost my mom, brother, and dad in only 6 years beginning in 2000. Then, I found out yesterday that my only remaining sibling has been diagnosed with melanoma. OK, God, the joke is over now! All I know to do is to cling to my faith with all my heart and soul and find peace in God’s promises. He has never forsaken me and I have no reason to believe that He will now.

    Look up this passage in the Bible: Habakkuk 3:17-19. It has brought me great comfort, time and time, again.

    Bless you today and always, my friend. Just know that I care and I’m praying for you.

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