‘That’ time of year is upon us, and when you are newly bereaved or still struggling to come to terms with your loss, this time of year is particularly difficult. It has become the other ‘C’ word. Today’s post includes links to some tips on finding ways of getting through this challenging time of year.
I am now 13 months, 13 days into my stay on ‘Planet Grief’. In the early days I found the blog of that name written by Helen Bailey and so much of what she said rings true to my own experiences. Bereavement is like your whole world being blown up and finding yourself on a totally different planet. Nothing is the same, no points of reference, nothing to hold on to, you are totally changed, I just felt and still do feel utterly and completely lost.
Kind words and support people offered in the early days, soon end and you are left floundering. I felt and still do feel toxic, like any mention of what happened is ‘Not acceptable, not welcome and certainly not encouraged’.
Society still expects you to suck it up, and fake all is well, however much it really isn’t; well, fine or anything remotely like that. How can anyone heal in this kind of environment?
Thank goodness for the wonderful lady from Cruse Bereavement care who visited once a week and let me talk, about whatever I needed too, for all the time she was able too. Thank goodness that The Samaritans have email support as I still can’t use a phone, so accessing help is difficult.Thank goodness for Bach flower remedies which take the edge of things a bit, when they get overwhelming.
Its been a year of much reading, about all I can mange, when I have some brief moments of spare energy, which is rare. Pema Chodron has had some philosophical pointers which have helped me look at life in a new ways. This doesn’t feel like my life, so its as good a time as any to start again at alternative ways of looking at things.
Helen Bailey has brought out a novel of her experiences with her own grief. The book is called ‘When Bad things happen in Good Bikinis’. I just read the chapter Sophie’s story (see page 70 onwards) and in it found a link to the Refuge in Grief website, written by Megan Devine. On it was a link to a blog of the site and what a perfect coincidence as the post for the day was called; ‘Those Terrible Holidays and had tips for getting through ‘the season’. Exactly what I needed right now, how about you?
There are so many memories, traditions and expectations around this time of year, and weather your pain is caused by bereavement or as in my case, that plus anxiety & depression as well, it all gets too much. Since last year I have found as many ways as possible to NOT say the ‘C’ word, the one that refers to the celebration that happens on 25th of December. I now refer to it in the American form of; ‘The holidays’, ‘The Season’, or just by date; 25th Dec’. Anything but using the C word.
Last year I got through, just! It was thanks mostly to shock n shut down. I gave out no cards (sorry everyone), I couldn’t make a sentence let alone face writing cards with just my name on. DH had bought some gifts for us early in the year before he passed and we shared those. The day itself was a low key event with my late husbands family. No one was feeling festive, we were all kinda fumbling along. I was so thankful to have company for the day.
Coming home was hell though, that moment when people leave, the door shuts and there you are…alone again. I cried buckets, Boxing Day was totally duvet day! I don’t normally drink but a bottle of Hooch (alcoholic lemonade) was consumed over a couple of days (I am a light weight at booze, it makes me sleep) but it let me get to a comfortably ‘I don’t care’ kind of numb which helped and I did get some sleep. Later, early in the New Year I wrote myself a letter and put it in a Christmas card for next (this year) saying what I did to get me through, what helped.
This year I have had to ‘eat the frog’. No animals were harmed! I meant I had to face writing the cards, sign with just my name and write letters for some who would not have heard about DHs passing. Its like THE worst homework ever, head down, just get it done, and expect to be useless afterwards. Chose a suitable reward for yourself, you will totally have earned it!
Gifts for people, I dealt with by getting things throughout the year, as I saw things they might like. I think next time, I will maybe try to wrap them as I get them, regardless of the time of year, then its only one gift to wrap. Sitting with a pile of gifts and looking at gift wrap that we had bought together (DH had quite a stash/hoard of cards n wrap) and the memories of C past all hit me hard. Echhh. Another ‘eat the frog’ moment.
Decorating; my feelings on this change moment by moment. I used to love decorating for this time of year, now I can’t face it. Last year I got a little tree out, I had before we were married so it had no couple significance.
I read on a blog somewhere; ‘If its gonna be grim, at least do it in pretty lights’. Whatever I did caused me to cry loads, still does. I have two decorations out, little hessian/Nordic style birds that I bought in 2013 and a bell. DH and I created a quilted advent calendar together in the run up to ‘C’ 2013, what turned out to be our last together, I can barely look at it. Its a reminder of its creation. I hope one day those memories will bring me happiness, not yet though. I tried to ‘re-invent’ my decorating by getting out a wooden nativity set again from my childhood that had been relegated in the past. Last year this and the tree with just lights was as much as I could face.
Somethings you just have to feel your way through, this seems to be one of those. What others want, think or expect mean less on Planet Grief. Not because you are selfish, uncaring, just because you are in a different land, feeling lost, all too often alone and just stumbling alone, hoping for moments of peace, however short lived they are.
Anyhoo, after FAR too long a ramble from me, here is the reason you came to this post, links to the article that drove me to create it, and Megan’s article on coping strategies for ‘The Season’.
Hang in there, its ‘just one day’, or maybe two if you have lots of family and friends’. Do what you can do, and as a very wise man said to me as DH passed. ‘Hold on to the fact that you never have to have this day again.’
Thank you Helen for your blog, your book and for having the courage to lead the way and blog your way through. I’m sorry we had to meet under such sad circumstances on this other planet but your companionship there makes it a little more bearable.
If you got this far, in this article. My thanks to you too.
These tips in Megan’s article; Those terrible Holidays feel useful for anxiety and depression as much as they do for bereavement.
Whatever brought you here today, I just hope within these articles, blogs and links elsewhere in my own blog, that you can find some peace with your situation, however briefly. Even little moments are gold dust when the world feels this dark. Hold on to the moments, let the rest take care of itself. Steps however small you think, they are ARE HUGE leaps.
Thanks for reading, thinking of you, sending you peace