How those grieving work to emotionally survive the holidays

Posted by Rob Brandt, With 0 Comments, Category: Grief, Robby's Voice, Tags: , ,

griefThis week is another Christmas, and for those of us living with loss, it is always a challenging week.  The emotions of the season wreak havoc with our hearts and emotions.

I think back to 2011 and the complete mental storm we were living in.  We had little desire to go anywhere, and really just wanted to stay in the house.  We, however, chose to try and do normal and that was not easy.  People ask questions like “how are you doing?”  In our heads we said, “how the hell do you think?”  Then there were those that were nothing short of curious.  Easily handled with a verbal ripping and maybe a good punch to the head; but not really options, and because we were so lost in our own heads, just dismissing those conversations and walking away seemed a better option.

Then there was gift giving, and watching younger nephews and nieces, eagerly and happily opening presents.  Not their fault as they were kids. They should have been doing that.  But everywhere we looked, people were happy, people were smiling, people were celebrating Christmas and we were just hoping to survive.

Why wasn’t everyone in the same hell as we were

Simple. Life goes on for everyone else.  And yes, it does go on for us as well, but it just seems stuck during the holidays.  Emotions are high.  I struggled to feel joy and happiness.  How could I?  Wouldn’t that be unfair to Robby.  There was calm and there were tears, and none of it was predictable or controllable.  In short, I was a mess and I think I can say that for all of us.

There are so many that I have met this year that will be entering into this holiday season for the first time, trying to figure it out, trying to get a hold on their emotions, and for the most part, just trying to survive it.  I figured I would help myself a bit and share some thoughts on what we have learned…because I need to prepare every year as well.

Emotional preparation for the holidays

  1. It Is How You Feel – People that are not living it don’t really understand it. That’s OK, we wouldn’t want them too. If you don’t feel like doing something or going somewhere, then don’t. You have to take care of yourself and your family. In short, it is OK to be all about your feelings.
  2. It Is How They Feel – If you choose to go somewhere, understand that people will be celebrating, laughing and enjoying the season. Their lives move forward while ours seem stuck in “that” place.
  3. They will ask “how you are,” and in your head you will say “how do you think I am?” They are either genuinely concerned, being polite or morbidly curious. Prepare yourself in advance for how you will answer that question and stick to it. If you don’t want to talk about it, then let them know you don’t want to talk about it. Hard enough just being there.
  4. Know the magic – Have a word or a look. When things are getting rough, anyone in the family can go to the “word,” and it is a signal that you need to leave the room or the party. Sometimes just using the word is enough to bring some calm back.

In the end, emotions will be uncontrollable, and whatever you decide to do; IT IS OK.  Don’t keep it bottled in; journal, cry, step aside, whatever works for you, but allow the emotion to get out.  Most important, know that you are not alone.  We are all out here together, praying for each other, lifting each other, supporting each other.  Together, we will make it through.