Death and dying are a part of our lives and it is inevitable that we will all experience the death of a loved one. Death ends a life, and not a relationship. Your relationship with your loved one is instilled through the memories you made, the conversations you have of your loved one, and the continued connection you embrace of your loved one. Grieving during Christmas can bring on intensified emotions and I am here to share my life experiences to help you find some comfort and hope during this year’s Christmas season. Sixteen years ago, on November 18th, 2006 my life was changed forever; my brother Kevin tragically died in a car accident near Hudson Bay, SK. He left behind his wife, two children, his parents, his siblings, and many more relatives and friends. I remember vividly the first Christmas without my brother. Many tears of sadness, shock, numbness, and disbelief. These emotions during “The most wonderful time” of year were intensified throughout the Christmas season. Grief today for me during the Christmas season feels and looks less intensified. Grief today for me is filled with blessings, joyful moments, reflection, resilience, connectedness, and many conversations about my brother as I keep his spirt alive in my heart and in my family.
To help you cope during the Christmas season the following has helped me accept and acknowledge my grief and work through difficult times:
FEEL – Give yourself permission to feel whatever shows up in your heart, mind, and body. It’s okay to not feel okay. Accept what feelings are showing up and breath through them one at a time.
TALK – Keep your loved one in your conversations. Encourage yourself and others to share their stories.
CONNECTEDNESS – Connect with family, friends, and other grief community supports. We are wired for connection and when a loved one dies we need connection more then anything.
TRADITION – Continue Christmas traditions that have been established, but also make new traditions in memory of your loved one.
SELF-CARE – Taking care of yourself can look like going for a walk, baking, taking a bath, journaling, listening to music, etc.
Our grief will never go away; our grief of a loved one will feel differently at any given time. Sometimes the grief feels more intensified and sometimes does not. The hurt and pain losing a loved one does for us is unimaginable; however, the way we recover and work through our emotions of grief is how we are able to manage and cope. This Christmas season I am here to hold space for all those that have lost a loved one.
Blog written by Registered Social Worker, Trina Hjelsing