Monday, December 9, 2013

Struggling during the Season

Religious store window, reflecting traffic 
My wife Beth and I have lost our mothers within a fourteen-month time, my mother in September 2012 and Beth's mom last month. After my mother died, I struggled through the semester. I tried not to fight the sad feelings when they came; I paced myself through rough days. Fortunately my work allows for this; if I were in a job where I had to be "on" all the time, I would have struggled more. Beth has been pacing herself through rough days as I did last fall. I imagine that Christmas Day will feel really lonely, because being with or calling our parents were always aspects of the holiday, and now Beth and I have no more parents (our dads passed away in the 1990s).

The fact that our parents have gained the promises of eternal life helps us stay oriented on the religious hope, which is a vast source of comfort. I figured that the internet would have resources on grief and loss during the holidays. Sure enough, there are many. This piece has several ideas for acknowledging your loss and helping yourself during this time.

This piece also concerns ways to deal with grief and loss over the holidays.

This piece was interesting because it concerns congregations that have “Blue Christmas services”  It’s good to work on grief within a religious context, but when you’re down, a very upbeat church service can feel hurtful and exhausting. An intentional effort of congregations to address the needs of the grieving, as these congregations are doing, can be so helpful.

A person has to find creative ways to interweave the loss of a loved on with the holiday season. One thing I did last fall was is to mostly avoid the popular Christmas music---and the sometimes painful nostalgia of loved ones and home---and substitute it with classical religious music that focuses on Advent and Christmas hope. (I like classical music, so this was an easy choice.) I made an effort to call some friends around Christmas, especially those for whom the day may be lonely or distressing. Some kind of informal ritual in remembrance of both my parents would be good to incorporate into the observance. This year, I'm also helping our pastor with checking on shut-ins.

What are some things that help you when you're feeling grief, especially over the holidays?

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