The snow is gently falling round, lights of red and green and blue grace the trees in the park with “Season’s Greetings” and “Merry Christmas” lit up around city hall as winter arrives and temperatures drop and a great many people start to put up decorations and trim their trees around their homes.
Stores and shops are decorated in their best tinsel and holly garlands. Wreaths and swags adorn front doors and the holiday arrives with its entire splendor as elves cut down trees tall, green, and slender for the house; getting it ready for that perfect Christmas time when not a creature was stirring “not even a mouse.”
The sounds of music of Christmases past replace other songs to help spread the season’s cheer as red kettles appear reminding the community of others in need who also live here. Still, for some — your boss, your neighbor or a friend, there are no lights to be strung around, no wreaths or holly garland, no joy, no happiness to be found and if there was a tree, it would most likely be bare and the thought of singing jingle bells just isn’t there.
The table is set for one or two, not a crew, and memories of Christmases past bring a tear to the eye as the thought of a missed loved one, father, mother, wife, husband or child holds so much pain in their hearts that Christmas just isn’t Christmas anymore.
I experienced my own mothers’ passing during the Christmas season and for a time it was painfully hard to think of enjoying Christmas ever again, but in time things changed and I found that special memories never fade because love in our hearts always remains.
I would like to share a few tips that might be helpful this Christmas season as many families experience grief of loss of a loved one this year.
1.) Remember, as everyone who grieves differently, how we feel about the holidays will also be as individual as you are. For some, ordinary days are harder than holidays.
2.) Acknowledge that the upcoming season might be hard to handle. Stating that out loud or to just yourself, validates it somehow making it more OK to accept your own feelings.
3.) Decide what you want to do this year. Do you want to continue traditions or do you want to begin new ones?
4.) Do something specific for your loved one. Some people like to light a candle, display a special ornament or decoration in a place each year. Make a donation somewhere in your loved one’s name or volunteer someplace that loved ones would have chosen or cared about.
5.) Talk about your loved one by sharing memories and stories about them. Remembering honours them, and keeps them with you in a very real sense.
6.) Set realistic expectations for yourself. If you don’t feel like doing cards, don’t. If you don’t feel like baking, don’t. If your house isn’t decorated, so what, it’s your time. Experiencing some nostalgic or sad moments is not necessarily a bad thing; it’s part of life after loss.
7.) Take care of yourself by getting enough sleep and eating properly. Remember, grieving is taxing physically, emotionally, and spiritually. It’s just plain hard work and it really does tire you out.
8.) Try to exercise every day if even for a short time. Exercise relieves stress, helps deter depression, and improves your self-esteem.
9.) If you need help, ask for it. If you can’t manage with daily chores, shopping or whatever it might be, it’s alright to ask someone to help you.
10.) Remember most people eventually enjoy the holidays again. Hang on to that hope. You will get there, maybe not this year or next.
This list is in no way complete, but thinking about these suggestions might be helpful to some. My wish for all who grieve is for peace and love to surround your homes this season and beyond.
Ron Malmas is the Managing Director of Compassionate Care Funerals.