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Moment Of Clarity

Celebrating the Holidays After Losing a Loved One

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The holidays are intended to bring people together to celebrate and give thanks for all that we have been blessed with and that which we have yet to receive. But if we lose a loved one, it can be difficult to celebrate and give thanks because the pain of not having them with us can be overwhelming.

The level of distress each person experiences depends on a few things: how their loved ones passed on; their relationship with them when they passed; if the loss was sudden; the timing of their passing; and if the passing was recent.

Generally speaking, the more recent the passing, the more somber holidays can feel. As time passes, our pain begins to heal and the holidays, once again, become celebrations of life that are full of new memories.

But some people can have a difficult time working through their grief and stop celebrating the holidays altogether after losing a loved one.

It is important to understand that when we lose a loved one, there is no right or wrong way to grieve, move on, or let go. The loss can be felt at a soul level and while some people can come to terms with a passing sooner than others, this does not mean that their grief or love is less than the person who may continue to struggle.

As we approach the holidays, the following is offered as suggestions to help you enjoy festivities with your loved ones while remembering those who have crossed over. What I am offering is not a process, but merely things for you to consider trying if it resonates with you:

1)   Allow yourself to fully feel the emotions around your loss. This includes not only pain and sorrow, but joy and grace. People often confuse grieving with sadness. While sadness is part of grief, it can also include joy if our loved one has lived a full and robust life, or even relief if they battled an illness.

2)   Keep a journal, even if it is sporadic. Write down your feelings, memories, and wishes on paper as it can help release the intensity of your emotions and gain perspective as you reminisce about them.

3)   Keep family traditions or start a new one. Continuing what is familiar allows you to have a sense of connectedness and continuity. To interact with others reminds us that life goes on and that tomorrow is a new day full of amazing journeys we have yet to take. On the other hand, if you prefer, you can start a new tradition with yourself or others.

4)   Talk to them. Some people visit the final resting place and have a conversation while others simply talk aloud to their loved one from time to time. Either is OK. Talking with our loved ones during the holidays allows us to remember them, even if the conversation is a brief one in our minds. Some people simply say, “I miss you” and that’s enough for them while others dedicate time for a longer conversation.

5)   Be patient. Give yourself the time you need to heal and move forward. Keep in mind that long after you’ve grieved, you may still shed a tear out of the blue, holidays may still be hard, and you may still feel like a part of you is missing. When this happens, remind yourself that although your loved one has passed on, they will forever be in your heart.

6)   Talk with a therapist. Grief can take a serious toll on your mind, body and soul if it lingers too long. Talking with a seasoned, licensed professional can help you grieve in a healthy way.

I hope that this was helpful. Please know that my wish is for you and your family to have a healthy and happy holiday season full of love, forgiveness, peace, and light …

Jinnie Cristerna, LCSW

Do you have a question for our “Moment of Clarity” JET Therapist, Jinnie? Email us at digitalpitches@ebony.com. We’ll be sure to keep it anonymous and confidential.

Jinnie Cristerna, affectionately known as “The High Achievers Therapist”, works with talented people to help them release emotional pain and psychological roadblocks so they can achieve their personal and professional goals. Jinnie specializes in psychotherapy, heart centered hypnotherapy, vibrational energy, meditation, and personality development. Visit Jinnie’s website and learn more about her!