When the Holidays Aren’t So Merry and Bright…

Whether you’re a younger person who has recently lost a parent or grandparent, someone missing the comforting presence of a life partner or child, or, yes, one of those missing dear pets, the holidays can be hard. Something—someone is missing. There’s a hole in your heart. You know why. Oh, you know why. You don’t hear the sparkling music at all, or you do and find it forced and irritating. The smoke of memory casts a pall on this year’s festivities. It is not the same. It will never be the same. It can be good eventually, but, for right now, you do need to take time for yourself.

Toning down the holidays

SeniorNavigator, a partner with Central Rappahannock Regional Library in providing information of interest to seniors and their families, recommends considering lowering the volume on the festivities. Here, they provide a useful set of lists that show how to rationally approach what is for most a celebratory season when you are grieving. Should-you turns into do-you-want-to … send out cards as usual, thin the list, send a holiday newsletter instead, or drop that chore, at least for now? Likewise how to embrace (or put at a distance) traditions such as cooking special meals and treats, socializing, gift-giving and so on.

The choice is yours, and, in the wake of losing control when a loved one has died, it is comforting to know that you do still have some choices, and one very appealing choice when grief is new is to do nothing at all. Grieving is an emotional situation that on some level may never really end.  But the pain passes (mostly), the dreadful pall lifts (mostly), and you will probably find yourself in a while slowly coming round to celebrating the holidays again. We have gathered some books that can act as guides and comforts during your difficult days and nights in our list.

CRRL Health: Coping with Grief

The death of a beloved one is an incredibly stressful life event. Here you will find resources that may help you cope during this difficult time.

Anxiety disorders are on the rise; many people are looking for resources to help them cope with anxiety, yet most people aren't aware that unresolved grief is a primary underpinning--or that the two are related at all.

This Christian author turned to God for comfort when her beloved husband died.

"Suffering the loss of a loved one at any time of the year is difficult, yet during the holidays or special occasions, those grieving experience a more intense sense of loss. The world is moving forward and celebrating life and all its blessings, yet for grievers, a darkness pervades the holiday.This book is an invitation to Christmas and its companion holidays of the season which compose a grueling triathlon which begins on Thanksgiving and continues unabated for forty-five days until the last of the bowl games on New Year's Day. Through quotes, prayers, Scriptures and the words of the author, 'A Decembered Grief' is designed to guide the reader on the journey beyond the shadow and directly through the valley of death."

"David Kessler-an expert on grief and the coauthor with Elisabeth Kübler-Ross of the iconic On Grief and Grieving-journeys beyond the classic five stages to discover a sixth stage: meaning."

"When someone or something we love leaves us, we suddenly walk alone into new territory without them. We become strangers in new lands, places where the landscape is unalterably changed, where the center of gravity has somehow faltered and become weak, making us feel as if we might fall off the surface of the earth. Sometimes, that moment of loss defines the rest of our lives, becoming a center to our compass forever. This unique book is a guidebook, an atlas of those experiences of loss and grief, a map for living through and into change and impermanence, to moving on anew."

"Presents a meditation on coping with the loss of an animal who has enriched one's life, sharing observations on the ways in which people grieve for their pets, related philosophical questions, and the process of letting go." Also available on audio to download.

In this compassionate guide, the author gives inspiring examples of how embracing our losses allows us to awaken our most profound connections to other people.

Doka acknowledges that grief is experienced differently by different people and describes some common ways of coping.

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If carrying on doesn’t seem like an option, it is time to deal with your depression. Consult a doctor at your first opportunity. Even your family physician should be able to get you started towards relief. If your feelings are very sharp and acute, please call the lifeline at 1-800-273-8255.

Being a friend…

Are you worried about someone who is bereaved but not sure what to do? SeniorNavigator offers these suggestions on being there for someone who is missing a loved one.