by Laura M.
I’m not a researcher. Nor do I claim to be an expert on anything. I’m like a lot of people: I know a little bit about a lot. So what I’m about to share is not scientifically proven. It’s not backed up with statistics. It’s just what works for me. Which I think is kinda the point of a blog – sharing personal stories in the hope that someone else can relate.
Here’s the deal: If you’ve lost someone dear to you, especially if it’s recent, the holidays can be rough. I don’t think that bears further explanation. So I’m just going to jump into some creative things you can do (and not do) to lighten your spirit.
You get a pass on sending out holiday cards. Hands down. I enjoy receiving the Christmas missives (see here for a creative way to display them!) But when I’m feeling blue I have to pay attention to the inward groan I hear that is conjured by the thought of having to send out Christmas cards. I mean, it’s a lot of work. Picking out the cards, getting the address book and stamps out and then if you write a personal note – even more time! So I’m here to tell you: you’re off the hook. If you’re feeling heavy and writing cards doesn’t lift your spirits – don’t do it! No one’s keeping tally. And if they are – you don’t need those kinds of people in your life!
See the light(s)
My brother died 3 weeks before Christmas several years ago. On the anniversary of his death I was having a hard time. I mentioned it to a dear friend and she proposed what was probably the only thing that could have cheered me up: She offered to come pick me up and drive me around so that we could look at all the Christmas lights. With hot chocolate. And let me tell you what – it really did the trick. I highly recommend it. You could even bring along your holiday playlist that you made (see what I did there?).
photo credit: J. Proffitt
December is a busy time of year. Folks got some shopping to do, decorating, school plays, family dinners to plan, etc. It’s perfectly understandable if they may not notice you moping in your cubicle. So, verbalize to others that you’re having a hard time. Those closest to you will want to know and may offer a great diversion that will end up making you feel better. Maybe driving around looking at Christmas tree lights???
Everybody handles grief differently. Which means that those around you are kind of playing roulette in figuring out what the best things are to say and do for you. So if their actions/words don’t hit the mark, forgive them. They’re just trying their best. A dear friend of mine recently lost his wife of 50+ years. A friend of his has been sending him a ‘thinking of you’ card every month for the past few months. It’s a beautiful gesture. Only, for him, it’s yet another reminder that his wife is gone. But he’s gracious about it. He understands the love and caring behind it. On the flip side, I got the nicest e-mail from a close friend, acknowledging that she remembered this was the time of Angus’ passing. It meant the world to me that she was thinking of me.
When you’re feeling blue, sometimes it’s hard to think of anything that would make you laugh. But you should really take the time to search for it. My recommendations:
Mike Birbiglia – stand-up comedian, author, actor. I appreciate Birbigs’ humor because it’s always self-deprecating and never mean-spirited. He’s got some Comedy Central specials (I think.) You could look for him on iTunes or Netflix, etc. Or check out another comedian at your local improv troupe.
Bill Bryson – author. My favorite book of his is titled “In A Sunburnt Country.” I read it 2 weeks after my brother died. In a feat that I didn’t think was possible, this book made me laugh.out.loud. I mean, think about it: If it could make me laugh at the worst time in my life, a regular person should be howling.
Elf – movie. Again, a personal favorite. Hopefully there’s a funny movie that you love to watch over and over. Beethoven is a very close second for me.
This SNL skit. I’ve watched it over a dozen times, and each time it makes me cry with laughter. It feels good.
I’m actually serious about this. If you don’t already have a pet, let me tell you what: there’s nothing like caring for a furry critter to make you feel better. I adopted 2 kitties after my brother’s death, and they saved me from the depths of my grief. Nothing else had worked. Not talk therapy, not art therapy, hoola hooping, or anti-depressants. But when I got those cats, man, my whole world turned around.
Lexie and Parker. My dearies who are quickly eclipsing me in the number of Facebook followers.
It’s hard to be sad at a time of year that is supposed to be filled with joy. Just know it’s ok to feel both. Once again: all of the above is what works for me. I would love to hear what works for you. Sharing is caring.