The holiday season rolls around again and you’ve got the blues because someone you love died and you miss them most of all this time of the year. Well, at least you are not alone in feeling this way. About 2.5 million Americans die yearly. Some people experience a sense of deep, profound sadness during the holidays and it can carry into the New Year.
What can you do? First, change your mind and then change your behaviors, if you want to help yourself.
To change your mind, you must realize that you have a choice in how you view yourself with respect to this death. If you think of yourself as a victim you will delay and complicate your recovery process. If you are in denial that the person died and you try to hold on to the past you will lose every single time. Death is a natural and inevitable event. Learning to accept it as such actually lessens its impact on our ability to recover when it happens to those we love.
A healthy way to reframe what happened is to realize that our relationships have a physical, an emotional and a spiritual dimension. When a loved one dies we only lose the physical part; they won’t be there for holiday celebrations, we can’t see them or touch them again. But we still have the emotional connection. The love is still there. The closeness. And we still have a spiritual connection to them. Their loving spirit is still around us and when we can be still and quiet in the midst of the holiday rush we can sense their loving presence in our lives. Death cannot rob us of either our emotional or spiritual bonds with our loved ones.
On the behavioral side you can do so many things to lift your holiday spirits and most are quite simple. For example, you can be of service to others. Volunteer in a soup kitchen or homeless shelter. You can be the person ringing the bells for the Salvation Army. If the one you loved was a parental figure, go to a senior center and find a way to lift the spirits of other elders. If you grieve a child, volunteer for Toys for Tots or some other organization that helps children. And if it was a sibling who died, consider becoming a Big Brother or a Big Sister. You can honor the memory of your loved one in so many ways and being of service to someone like them is a beautiful way to pay tribute to what they meant in your life.
When the blues come calling don’t wallow. Take action. You are not powerless and you are not alone. Reframe the sadness you feel as a way-point, a marker in your journey, not a destination. Mark it . Note it. And then move on, for your own health and well being, and to honor the memory of the one you lost.