05 Dec Dealing With Grief: 5 Ways To Prevent A Holiday From Being Ruined

Yes! We Drive Each Other Nuts!

Grieving family members, including children, tend to drive each other nuts because we each grieve differently and on our own personal healing time table.  Normal grief pain produces normal grief responses—and the grief responses that you experience may or may not be the same as other family members. Normal Grief Responses Normal grief pain, many times, feels like fear.  Add a holiday into the mix and… The good news is that the anticipation of the day is usually worse than the day itself ends up being.  And, for most of us, each holiday eventually becomes good again, just in a new and very different way.

Arrive On Time

For some family members arriving late has always been a habit.  However, for others this new grief related experience of not being able to stay on task and get yourself out the door on time can be unsettling.  Either way, the solution is to use a stove timer.  Set the stove timer to keep you on task and on schedule. Try not to be the person who holds up dinner.

Nourish Your Brain and Body Before You Leave Home

If, based on previous experience, you know that dinner is never served on time—Eat a healthy snack before you leave your house.  Low blood sugar impacts mood negatively.  The wait will be less anxious. You will be more relaxed, engaged and patient when interacting with family members.

Avoid Over Eating

Grief can kick healthy eating right out the door—before we even realize that the door has been opened.  Over eating is a sneak up on you before you realize what’s happening normal negative grief response.  It’s an unhealthy way to try to numb your pain.  Make the decision to eat healthy portions of food.  Limit sugar intake.  As a side note, the flip side of eating too much is forgetting to eat.  Don’t forget to eat.  Don’t forget to feed your children.  Drink lots of plain water.

Avoid The Self-Medicating Healing Illusion

It is not possible to use or self-medicate and heal at the same time.  Excessive alcohol consumption, over use of prescription drugs, taking someone else’s prescription drugs (It’s amazing what types of pills, etc. that people want to share with us “To Help”  when we are grieving…) or using recreational drugs will not take away the pain of grief—this behavior only numbs the pain and may lead you or another family member down the unwanted path of addiction.  Additionally, it’s easy to relapse right now. The only way to resolve the pain of grief is to walk through it with a clear mind and a working brain. This is the hard work of grieving and Healing.

Side Note:  If you decide to self-medicate to the point where you are so mentally numb that you can’t do your personal grief work—when you stop using, you will be at the same point in your healing that you were at when you started to use.  How awful!  Be the family leader.  Give yourself and others permission to Heal in and Healthy and Productive Way.

Side Fact:  Alcohol is a depressant.  Marijuana use ages the brain and impacts memory negatively… Especially in a growing brain.  Learn more:  Amen Clinics  Seek professional help if needed.

Honor The Memory Of Your Loved One

Include ways to honor your loved one.  For example, share stories and photos and laughter and tears.  Sing songs that your loved one loved to sing.  Light a candle or visit the cemetery.  Watch old family movies.  Give everyone who wants to share a chance to do so.  Give yourself and others permission to enjoy the holiday again.

Brain & Heart Rewiring

Each member of your family, including you, has moved from having a physical relationship with your love one to one of memory.  Brains and hearts are in the process of rewiring to a new environment which no longer includes your loved one.  Additionally, each of you is trying to figure out how to fit back into your ongoing family story—how to write the next chapter.

Each family member, including you, is also trying to figure out who they are now without their loved one—and trying to imagine and figure out what the future will be like now that everything has changed.  This is exhausting mental and emotional work.

The Impact of Role & Responsibility Changes

What role did your loved one play in your family?  What role did your loved one play on this holiday?  The cook?  The game person?  The life of the party?  The person who drank too much?  The person with addiction issues?   Role and responsibility changes impact each holiday differently.  It takes a while to find a new family rhythm and balance—but you will.

More Relief Than Grief

One more thing to consider.  If your deceased family member was the source of family friction or excessive family stress—many family members may now be experiencing a sense of relief and freedom.  However, some of these same family members might be feeling guilty about how they now feel.  This is inappropriate guilt.  Feeling a sense of relief and peace are both normal grief responses.  On the flip side, one or two family members may be upset and not understand how anyone can be feeling relief and peace.  This goes right to the point that everyone grieves differently and there is no one correct way to feel.

Free eBook Download:  Rumbling With Grief During The Holiday Season & Surviving