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How to Get through the Holidays while Grieving a Loss

10 Dec

Dear Belleruth,

This year I am a basket case over the holidays. I do not feel like doing anything.  I am nervous and out of sorts most of the time.  I bite my husband’s head off, even though he is a good man who helps me out and does not deserve this. I burst into tears at nothing.   

As usual, I am having my sisters and their families over for Christmas dinner.  It has been fun in the past, but not this year.  My mother died last year and that is probably why.  This will be our first Christmas without her.

What would you suggest I listen to, to get me through this?  I am dreading the holidays.  I wish I could just run away and come back when it is all over.

Sad Sally from Syracuse

Dear Sally,
I have some suggestions for audio programs but first I’d like to share some thoughts:

For starters, you know you probably could just run away.  I mean, what’s to stop you?  Who says you have to do it the way you’ve always done it, especially when the loss of your mother is so fresh and painful?  

So keep in mind that even at this late date, you have a choice here.  

You could cancel the whole deal… liberate yourself from all traditions and expectations and just take yourself and your very nice husband away… there are all kinds of super-deals between Christmas and New Years to the Bahamas or Paris or the Mexican Riviera or London or wherever.  Hell, you could drive down the road and stay in the next town, letting the others take care of their own selves!  

Sometimes just knowing that you don’t have to do something can provide relief, whether you choose to do it or not.

If you decide you really do need to celebrate Christmas with your sisters, ask for more help from them.  Maybe they could host it at one of their houses.  Or bring and prepare the food at your house.  Maybe you all could just go out to a restaurant and let the professionals do the cooking, serving and clean-up – split the check between the families. This could be a good year for that.  

Mostly I would encourage you to give yourself the time, space and emotional room to miss your mother and grieve her loss.

Of course you’ll feel it more freshly and intensely over the holidays, where she’s so obviously and stunningly not there.  So just let yourself feel it without judging yourself or thinking you should be “happy” because it’s Christmas. Once you get rid of that expectation, you can get an awful lot done while crying at the same time, believe me!

I digressed from your original question.  So let me answer that, too:  for resources, I’d suggest any one of these:  Ease Grief, Relaxation & Wellness, Heartbreak & Abandonment, General Wellness or Depression.

And do check out some of the tips for holiday stress and depression that I provide in this week’s update letter.

Take good care, Sally.  And remember that no matter what you do, you will get through this; this too shall pass; and better days are ahead. Because no matter what, one thing you can always count on: things change.

All best,
Belleruth

Belleruth Naparstek

Psychotherapist, author and guided imagery pioneer Belleruth Naparstek is the creator of the popular Health Journeys guided imagery audio series. Her latest book on imagery and posttraumatic stress, Invisible Heroes: Survivors of Trauma and How They Heal (Bantam Dell), won the Spirituality & Health Top 50 Books Award