Still Standing

Self-Care: Planning for the Holiday Blues

photo by Ginny Limer

The holiday celebrations are just around the corner, stalking the bereaved parent like a grinchy thief in the night.  But we will not be unprepared.  We will not be blindsided by grief this time. We will arm ourselves with healing, self-care strategies and have a plan in place for the joy-stealing thief that is grief.  We will plan for pain.

Plan to be creative when you feel uninspired and numb.  Search Pinterest for d.i.y. holiday home décor ideas.  Turn on some music and create something for your sacred space.  Set a date with friends to attend one of those step-by-step painting (and sometimes drinking) classes.  Laugh and get messy.  Drink and be merry-ish.  Can’t make anything and don’t feel social?  Read a book under a blanket with a flashlight, or write in a journal.

Plan to make meaningful memories in honor of your child.  You did not plan for this grief.  You never planned for your child’s death, never, ever, ever.  You planned for happiness and holidays, not heaviness and heartbreak.  Plan to honor your child.  Light a candle in honor of such a radiant soul.  Set a special place card at the empty space(s) around your table. Create a special space to honor your child during the holiday season, buy an ornament, or hang a personalized stocking.  Create a secret holiday ritual to honor your child that only you know about.

Plan to help others when you are hurting so deeply.  Holiday grief can take down even the most seasoned griever.  We know this.  We must plan for this and find ways to lift our spirits, even when feeling so deflated.  Volunteer for a local non-profit, and ask family and friends to give their time to help others in honor of your child as well.  Donate to an online cause.  Visit YouCaring or GoFundMe and search for a cause that reflects your passion, heart, and child.  Gift a child who is the age that your child “is” and buy toys, clothes, and gadgets that you imagine your child would want.  Help a needy family, a single mom or dad.  Take food to your local animal shelter in honor of your child.

Plan to connect when you feel so isolated.  Combat feelings of isolation by connecting with others within the child loss community.  I asked a few of my bereaved besties: What activities keep your heart light when your feet feel so heavy?

Plan for none of these activities to completely eradicate the effects of grief.  The healing and the grieving last as long as the loving: forever.

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