Holidays are undoubtedly filled with expectations, but expectations can be the quickest way to disharmony and disappointment.
How can people, especially those going through grief, prevent disappointments, hurts, and conflict during the holidays?
Today’s holiday tip is: Keep communication open with your loved ones, sharing with them exactly where you’re at, and specifically saying what you need most. This will help you to avoid disappointment, frustration, and further grief during the hustle and bustle of the holidays.
The holidays are usually stressful and crazy as it is, so when you add grief to the mix, feelings can be elevated to a higher level…people can be more sensitive than usual…communication can be lacking..and expectations can become unrealistic.
So what can you do if you’re going through grief during this time of the year?
- Communicate. Get together with your loved ones and share your heart. If you’re feeling super down, let them know. If you’re feeling anxious about getting through the holidays, or you’re feeling scared, let your loved ones know exactly where you’re “at” in your grief process.
- Think about your grief needs. What do you feel you need to have the easiest and most meaningful holiday season possible? Do you need your loved ones to have more compassion, empathy, or patience? Do you need family members or friends to help you put up your Christmas decorations…or do you need understanding because you don’t wish to decorate or do your usual traditions this year? Would you like for someone to take the time to go out for coffee, or listen to your heartache? Would you primarily just like some time to quietly reflect on the season? Taking the time to understand your grief needs will prove to be incredibly helpful.
- Now that you’ve thought about your grief needs, specifically ask for what you need. If you’re needing a quieter holiday, let your loved ones know that. If you’re needing extra encouragement or support, don’t be shy about asking for exactly what you need. For example: if you usually cook the big family meal, and you’re not feeling up to doing that due to your grief, ask your loved ones to fill in the gap…request everybody go to a buffet together…or ask another family member to host the dinner this year as you figure out your “new normal.” Communicate exactly what you need and allow others to help you.
- Be prepared to negotiate and renegotiate. Negotiating and renegotiating are usually a part of the grief process…especially around the holidays. If you and your family are mourning the same loss, they also have feelings, suggestions, and an idea of how they desire the holiday season to go. Seek to find win/win solutions that everybody involved can accept, implement, and feel good about.
- Gain support from your local church and/or grief community. There are so many churches, grief organizations, and communities available to offer encouragement during the holidays to help those going through grief. It is beyond helpful and valuable to get together with others who truly understand and “get” what you’re feeling and going through. Whether you seek encouragement at a church, from a trusted pastor or therapist, or through other grief organizations, they all have a common goal: to help and encourage those who are deep in grief. I’ll include a list of some of my personal favorites at the end of this post.
I hope you find these suggestions helpful, and I hope they help to create unity among families. The holidays are tough for those who carry the burden of grief. I hope all of the holiday tips I’m sharing this month and next will lighten the load so everyone can create a meaningful, hope-filled holiday season.
Gratitude & many blessings,
©2015 by Kim Niles. All rights reserved.
For more encouragement:
Kim’s blog: http://www.griefbites.com
Connect on Facebook by “liking” page: http://www.facebook.com/GettingYourBreathBackAfterGrief
FREE YouVersion reading plans:
1. Grief Bites: Hope For The Holidays: https://www.bible.com/reading-plans/1964-grief-bites-hope-for-the-holidays
2. Grief Bites: Finding Treasure In Hardships: https://www.bible.com/reading-plans/912-grief-bites-finding-treasure-in-hardships
3. Grief Bites: Doubt Revealed: https://www.bible.com/reading-plans/954-grief-bites-doubt-revealed
4. Grief Bites: A New Approach To Growing Through Grief https://www.bible.com/reading-plans/862-grief-bites
Getting Your Breath Back After Life Knocks It Out of You (book that shares tips on traditions, grief, & holidays): http://www.barnesandnoble.com/mobile/w/getting-your-breath-back-after-life-knocks-it-out-of-you-kbh-niles/1112403330?ean=9781449725617
Some of my favorite grief ministries & organizations:
- GriefShare hosts a free special holiday seminar, offers grief support meetings, and has a daily email they send out to those going through grief. For more information and locations: http://www.griefshare.org
- The Compassionate Friends hosts special holiday happenings such as their very special Worldwide Candle Lighting. They also offer grief support group chapters, newsletters, and national seminars. For more information: https://www.compassionatefriends.org/News_Events/Special-Events/Worldwide_Candle_Lighting.aspx
- Open to Hope Foundation is a non-profit foundation with the mission of helping grievers find hope after loss. On their website, you can find a wide variety of articles to read, radio sessions to listen to, and also share your stories of hope and compassion at http://www.opentohope.com
- Local churches offer a wide variety of grief support, encouragement, inspiration, and hope to those who grieve. Many offer holiday events for grievers, too. Two of my favorite churches to offer holiday events and Christmas services (at their locations and online) are http://www.life.church and http://www.saddleback.com …Both of these churches also offer online series on grief you can watch from the comfort of your home or the convenience of your smartphone.
- Local funeral homes, hospices, and some hospitals offer holiday encouragement and special events for those who grieve. Check with your local funeral home, hospice, or hospital for more information.
- Focus on the Family offers many articles on grief and family issues, as well as provides free phone counseling and counseling referrals. More information here: http://www.focusonthefamily.com
- Military grief is unique so it’s great there are organizations such as Wounded Warrior Project to meet the emotional, mental, and physical needs of wounded service members. For more information: http://www.woundedwarriorproject.org
- YouVersion, the Bible App, offers many reading plans to help those who are experiencing grief, family or marriage issues, and various life challenges. With almost 200,000,000 free downloads, over 800 reading plans, and 1,115 Bible versions in 799 languages, the YouVersion Bible App has something for everyone. http://www.youversion.com
- Celebrate Recovery offers encouragement, help, and healing for those who have been wounded in life, and those who are battling addiction, hurts, hang ups, and habits. For more information: http://www.celebraterecovery.com
- The greatest grief support is God, and trusted, close family members and friends. Be sure to allow God and loved ones to help, support, love, and encourage you in your greatest times of need this holiday season.
You may find all, some, or none of these websites helpful. As with all grief material and encouragement, breathe in the good; exhale the bad. Do what is best for you and your family.❤️