Grief Is A Gift
by Camille Nitschky, The Grief Lady
It’s that time of year again. Everyone bustling about with a multitude of things to do, trying to be cheery and festive and sometimes stressed out to the max as we roll into the busiest season celebrating with family and friends. So, what happens when someone dies to change the landscape of your family and friends during this time of traditions and ritual? Sometimes even right before the holiday, or perhaps on Hanukkah, or Kwanza, or Christmas Day. Or maybe it’s been years since they died but it bubbles up like it was yesterday. How then do you celebrate when your heart is breaking with the loss?
Sometimes you don’t. You stop. You freeze. You’re numb. You may not care what day it is and can’t even think about anything else but that your loved one is missing from all the festivities, let alone your life. Sometimes navigating your grief when you have children is even harder to separate yours from theirs and being there for them when you’ve got your own bundle of feelings to deal with. My best “advice” is to try to honor what’s in your heart. For you and for them. Whatever you need to get through, one moment at a time. It will pass. It will be January before you know it and December will be a blur.
Try to let your friends be there for you and if you need space, gently tell them you’re unable to receive their help but not to go too far away. They might not understand. If you’re a friend to someone who’s grieving, ask them what they need. Shovel their walk. Drop off some cookies. Give them a gift certificate for a holiday meal. Offer to decorate their tree or take their kids shopping to find something special for you, or even something special in memory of their person who died. A special candle to light or something to symbolize their love.
There’s no right or wrong way to express your feelings. Grief is messy, hard, and doesn’t always make sense. I do know the worst thing is to try to deny it. Whatever you do, honor your grief, your sadness. Let the time you give yourself to grieve be the gift this season. Give it a place at the table. Share your memories, your love, and the many gifts their love gave you over their lifetime. You will continue to receive those gifts as long as you live. We love therefore we grieve. Thinking of that love makes grief truly a gift.
For more ideas on how to navigate grief during the holidays, check out the Children’s Grief Center’s NEWSLETTER.
Written by Camille Gerace Nitschky, the Executive Director at the Children’s Grief Center of the Great Lakes Bay Region. You can follow the Children’s Grief Center of the Great Lakes Bay Region on Facebook and Instagram.