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Surving the Holidays – Six Ways of Healthy Grieving

Holidays are often difficult for anyone who has experiencedthedeathofsomeoneloved.Rather thanbeingtimesoffamilytogetherness,sharing andthanksgiving,holidayscanbringfeelingsof sadness,lossandemptiness. Everyone experiences grief differently.We hope this article will help you cope with the loss of a loved one.

Grief can come in many forms and affect everyone quite differently.Whether it’s a fresh or ever-presentgriefthatyou’redealingwith,thereare positive ways to channel this grief energy into a projectforeveryseason.Theseprojectswillcreate an outlet for your grief and create a space and aplace for you to unload some of the heaviness that thesadnessofgrievingcanbring. Herearesix ideas:

PlantSeedsofHopeinaMemoryGarden-A garden can be a great way to tend to your griefasyouplantseeds,waterthem,andwatch them grow. It can also be a reminder that seeds have to break through heavy dirt and darkness beforegrowingandblossoming.Your memory gardencanfeatureautumnflowers,vegetables, oritcanbeassimpleashangingwindchimes andbirdfeeders.Anotherideaistohaveyour loved one’s favorite flower in a pot inside yourhome.Thedetailsofwhatyouplantor where you place your memory garden aren’t as important as the intention of honoring your loved one and allowing a space for yourself whereyoucanreflect.

•Welcome the Sun— It’s always darkest before thedawn,andgettingupearlyjusttowatch the sunrise is a great way to remind yourself that the sun will rise again and re-awaken your spirit.If you’re not an early riser, even just sittingandbathinginthesunforafewminutes adaysoakingupsomerayswillbringwarmth andvitaminDintoyourlife. Closeyoureyes withyourfacetothesun,inhaleslowdeep breathsthroughyournoseandexhalethrough yourmouth.Notice how the winter air smells different than the summer air.Whileyou’re breathinginfocusonthegoodyouwouldlike to come into your life, and while you’re breathing out release any fears, anger, and negativity.

CollectMemories—Grievingcanleaveus withapileofmemoriesthatwemaynotknow whattodowith.A few ideas for collecting thesememoriesanddisplayingthemtogether would include creating a scrapbook or a memoryboxofpictures,souvenirsfromtrips together, or some of your loved one’s favorite quotesorsayings.You could also display these thingsonashelforinashadowboxhanging onthewall. If you don’t have a large physical collection of photos or items that remind you ofthem,youcouldalsocollectmemoriesby buildingaPinterestboarddedicatedtoyour lovedone.You can collect ideas for honoring theirmemorybypinning:memorialprojects, photos and quotes that remind you of them, quotesongrievingorBibleverses,memorial jewelry, some of their favorite recipes, and giftsthatremindyouofthem.

Write DownYour Feelings—Startingablog orkeepingajournaltorecordthingsabout yourlovedoneoryourgriefprocesscanbea transformativeexperience. Somanythoughts andemotionscometothesurfaceatanygiven timewithaloss,andby writingthemdownyou canexpressthemina healthy way rather than keepthembottledup. You may not think you haveanythingtosayor youmighthaveahard timethinkingofwhat towrite,butifyougive journalingachance youmayfindastream ofconsciousnesspour out to reveal the things that you did not know how to express. Ifyou’re inspired to, you could also write your loved one’s story down as a way to keep their memory alive as I did in my novel, Heaven Has No Regrets.Writing has been a powerful tool on my journey of grief and an ongoing tool for others.

ReleaseWhatWent Unsaid—Another powerful way that writing can help you move through the grieving process is to write your loved one a letter.You can include in it anything that you feel you are still holding on to, any words that were left unsaid, or anything that you wished that they would have said to you.Your letter could be pages long or it could be a simple sentence like, “I’ll miss you forever and love you always.”There are many ways to release your letter, such as burning itin a campfire, putting the letter into a bottle and tossing it into the ocean,ripping it into shreds and burying it in your memory garden, or youcould roll up your letter and place it inside a balloon or write your message on the outside of a balloon and release your letter to the sky, watching it float up past the clouds.

Start a NewTradition—Oneofthehardestpartsaboutlosingsomeone you love is the feeling that you’ve lost everything.Whileyoumayno longer have your loved one physically here to complete past traditions andfavorite memories with, you can still find ways to include them and honor them in new traditions.Feeling too down to accept a tailgating or holiday party invitation? Make your loved one’s favorite dish or somethingthat reminds you of them to take to the event.You could alsoinclude their memory in your holiday activity by wearing their favorite color or a memorial piece of jewelry.

Grief is an intimate experience for each loss, and how we process grief with each loved one or pet’s passing also changes through time with our innergrowth.Working through grief is a lifelong process with no time limit.It’s not so much about closing a chapter of grief, but learning to write a future that includes honoring yourself and celebrating your memories with your loved ones.