Throughout the next few weeks, I will be offering holiday tips that I hope will be encouraging and helpful to your heart.
After going through multiple family deaths, the holidays became a very painful and challenging time for my family and me.
As I share (in these next holiday posts) what my family and I have learned through the process of creating special, meaningful, and eventually enjoyable holidays again – in spite of grief – I hope all who read these helpful tips will be encouraged and comforted!
Grief can definitely make the holidays excruciatingly painful to get through…but there truly is hope.
Having experienced the death of family members on major holidays (Thanksgiving and Easter) and the day after Valentine’s Day and day before Christmas, I truly understand how challenging holidays can be.
To be honest, I never thought our family would ever have the ability to enjoy these particular holidays again…ever…but we finally were able to after navigating through tremendous grief.
My first holiday tip is:
Grieve how you need to grieve and be kind to your heart.
Do not put on yourself the extra pressure of having the “perfect” holidays.
Just like you are having to create a “new normal” in day-to-day life, you may need to create a “new holiday season” – or the freedom to do holidays differently for a season, too.
Creating a “new normal” doesn’t make anything “normal“…oh, how I hate that word…yet I like to compare “creating new normals” to inflating a life raft: it doesn’t make anything immediately better, but it can prevent a griever from completely drowning.
When going through grief, holidays can lose their previous joy, sparkle and specialness.
•Holiday meals can be excruciating since a much-loved family member is no longer here to enjoy loved ones, the meal, or the holiday. Their presence is sorely missed!
• Suddenly, the tree that used to shine bright holding treasured ornaments and memories can now bring about intense sadness.
• Baking treats and making favorite dishes you used to bake or make for a loved one who is no longer here can now bring about incredible heartache.
• Old familiar traditions can now bring intense pain or anxiety.
• Certain Christmas songs can be tied to a special memory, remind you of a loved one, or can bring sudden tears out of nowhere.
• And seeing happy couples and cheerful families—on social media or in real life—can bring about feelings of depression, hopelessness, anger, or maybe even envy.
The holidays can be a huge reminder of the great treasure you lost.
It is very painful navigating through the holidays when going through the death of a loved one, adultery or divorce, miscarriage/infertility, financial or job loss, family/marital/stepfamily conflict, physical or mental illness of a loved one, addiction issues, family rebellion or estrangement, illness, or other painful losses.
…And it can be extra painful and burdensome when family and friends do not understand or don’t agree with how you are handling your grief.
Explain to family and friends how the holidays are going to be tough on you and lovingly ask for their help, support, love, understanding and compassion.
Some grievers may be able to do all of their usual holiday traditions, while others may not…BOTH are perfectly fine!
Pray about and consider what you need to do, or not do, this holiday season and come to a place of peace about it.
It doesn’t mean it will always be like this…(just because you choose something this year doesn’t mean it will be cemented forever)…it simply means you are doing what you need to do THIS holiday season to make it through the holidays.
Communication is key! Talk about your plans and how you are feeling with your loved ones, to avoid hurt feelings or conflict.
Compromise may be needed when choosing what to do (and not do) during the holidays…but it is important to grieve however you need to grieve.
Ideally, it is best to come to decisions where your grief is genuinely honored…while also factoring in honoring your time with remaining loved ones.
Just like there is no such thing as “cookie cutter” grief, not every griever or family will handle the holidays the exact same way either. Each must communicate and find what’s best for their own individual family. It may include fully celebrating holidays as usual…or changing things up a little…or beginning a few new traditions…or completely changing everything this year…or going out of town, on a vacation, or to visit family who live out of town for a change of scenery. There are many ways to create a peaceful, meaningful holiday during times of grief.
If you have family and friends who love you, support you, and encourage you, what an amazing, incredible gift that truly is! Be sure to thank them for all of the ways they bring encouragement, meaning, and love to your life.
Grief is so unique and personal – and affects so many facets of your life – it isn’t a cookie-cutter experience. It’s a journey that is between God and you – and, at times, those you live with.
Grief isn’t designed for everyone to have input or an opinion about it.
…You don’t “get over it”…
…You can’t go around it…
…You can’t fly above it…
…You have to go through it…
…And there isn’t an ending to grief while on earth because grief will resurface from time to time. As long as there is love, grief will lovingly linger…because love doesn’t die.
Yes, grieve however you need to grieve and be kind to your heart. As long as you aren’t hurting yourself or others…and you’re not hurting the heart of God…your grief is totally appropriate.
I am praying everyone who is going through a sad or tough time will have a meaningful holiday season. And I truly hope everyone is surrounded by understanding and caring loved ones who will offer encouragement and kindness the next few weeks.
It can take time to find a new holiday normal, so please don’t be hard on yourself. It takes time, effort, and grace to work out a broken heart and to pick up the pieces of a shattered life.
Grief can be excruciatingly heartbreaking during the holidays, but through genuinely remembering and honoring your treasured deceased loved ones, honoring your grief, and showing love to your remaining loved ones – while working through your grief – holidays can hold great joy again…in time!
I wish each of you a peaceful Christmas season that is filled with comfort, encouragement, and hope.
With God’s help, the holidays can be meaningful again.
Gratitude & blessings,
©2015 by Kim Niles. All rights reserved.
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⭐️For more encouragement:
❤️Making peace with God: http://peacewithgod.net
🎄Getting Your Breath Back After Life Knocks It Out of You (Kim’s book): Click here for book
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❤️FREE YouVersion reading plans:
1. Grief Bites: Finding Treasure In Hardships: https://www.bible.com/reading-plans/912-grief-bites-finding-treasure-in-hardships
2. Grief Bites: Doubt Revealed: https://www.bible.com/reading-plans/954-grief-bites-doubt-revealed
3. Grief Bites: A New Approach To Growing Through Grief https://www.bible.com/reading-plans/862-grief-bites
4. Grief Bites: Hope For The Holidays: https://www.bible.com/reading-plans/1964-grief-bites-hope-for-the-holidays
5. Experiencing Holidays With Jesus: Christmas, http://bible.com/r/3V5
6. Experiencing Holidays With Jesus: Happy New Year!: http://bible.com/r/3Zv
7. Valentine’s Day: Experiencing Holidays With Jesus: https://www.bible.com/reading-plans/14059-valentines-day-experiencing-holidays-with-jesus
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⭐️⭐️All content on the Grief Bites blog and website is for encouragement purposes only and is not in any way to be construed as medical, emotional, mental, relational, or psychological advice. We hope to serve as a bridge to encourage others by sharing our personal grief and life experiences. Please contact a qualified healthcare professional, mental health professional, or qualified pastor for guidance.