November 27th, 2012
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Finding Inner Peace During the Holiday Season
Whether it’s Thanksgiving, Christmas or Hanukkah, the holiday season is filled with lots of conflicting memories and overwhelming expectations.

Let’s be real: There is no such thing as a perfect holiday.

There is only the holiday that you create yourself and celebrate, hopefully with people you care about and people who also care about you.

The size of the decorations, the cost of the decorations, the number of parties, the quantity of food and alcohol and the amount of presents has nothing to do with the happiness you may or may not feel during this time of year.

For people who are newly widowed or who have lost a child, a parent, a friend or a relative, the idea of being without that person during the holidays is incredibly painful.  Please accept my sympathies.  I am truly sorry for your loss.

I’m really not sure why I didn’t fall totally and completely apart during the first holiday season after my husband’s death.  I think I was too numb to feel anything and I also give a lot of the credit to my son who was only 13 years old at the time.  Somehow we, along with family and friends, kept going and we got through it, discovering an inner strength we didn’t know we had.

Although I do have to admit that there were many times that I could not listen to the constant playing of Christmas music in the house, in the car and in stores.  Christmas music was difficult to listen to and I found I had to separate myself from it.

In the hopes of helping others who are trying to figure out how they can get through the holidays while dealing with the loss of a loved one, here are some timely tips from the Hospice Foundation of America that may make this holiday season a bit easier for you:

 — Do what is comfortable;

 — Plan for the approaching holidays.  Be aware that this might be a difficult time for you.  The additional stress may affect you emotionally, cognitively, and physically; this is a normal reaction.  It is important to prepare for these things.

 — Take care not to drink alcohol (a central nervous system depressant) in excess, overeat (which bring fatigue), or overwork.

 — Avoid spending more than you like simply because it is expected.  Buying smaller gifts or giving the gift of time are important options to consider.  Feel good about not going into debt.

— Recognize that holidays won’t be the same.  If you try to keep everything as it was, you’ll be disappointed.  Doing things a bit differently can acknowledge the change while preserving continuity with the past.

— Be careful not to isolate yourself.  It’s alright to take time for yourself but don’t cut yourself off from the support of family and friends.

 — The holidays may affect other family members.  Talk over your plans.  Respect their choices and needs, and compromise if necessary.

 — Avoid additional stress.  Decide what you really want to do, and what can be avoided.

 — Find the way that is right for you.

 You are loved and you are not alone.  Ever!

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