Every Wednesday

Every Wednesday I will post a reflection on grief as I continue to explore its landscape and listen to you. In the sharing of our stories with each other, we find encouragement and build a community of support.

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Friday, December 21, 2018

10 Holiday Survival Tips

for Grievers and Friends

1  If you’re grieving, you don’t have to celebrate the holidays. Seriously. It’s your life. Go to parties only if YOU want to. If you don’t, turn the invitations down, and try to do so without swearing. It’s good to be invited, but you may not feel ready.

2  If you go to a party, you can leave whenever you want. You don’t have to stay to the end if the chatter becomes too loud, the music too happy, or the sparkling lights too bright. You can also step outside to calm down. Watch the stars in the wonder of the universe until you’re ready to go back in. Or go home.

3  Chuck all of your traditions. You don’t have to do what you’ve done every year for the last two decades. You don’t have to put up any decorations or send out holiday cards. Do something new. Do what is meaningful to you this year. 

4  If the holidays feel like the rubble of something good, turn your focus elsewhere. Cook your favorite, non-holiday food.

5  Give gifts anonymously. Then you don’t have to deal with people saying thank you and getting sucked into the “happy holiday vortex” of polite banter back and forth.

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6  If you invited a friend to your party last year who this year is grieving, invite them again. They will be wondering if you will, and will feel worse if you don’t. But allow them to decline without pressure. The invite is what’s important because it lets them know that they are still part of your circle of friends.

7  If they come, let them sit off to the side and watch if they want. Sit with them now and then. Don’t force them to interact. Just being present at a celebration surrounded by happy people is a big step for them.

8  Do not try to fix them up with someone if their spouse died this year. No no no.

9  Later on, cook or bake something for them that is not connected to the holidays and take it over. Bread, soup, and tamales are good, warming food, and always welcome.

10  Invite someone who is grieving over for tea and coffee. Or go to their place. Let them decide what they want to talk about. Do not discount or correct what they say. Often grievers aren’t looking for answers to unanswerable questions. They want someone to listen. They want to feel not alone.

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