I live in Alabama where we are still sweating buckets under the late summer sun, so I understand if thinking about the holidays is the furthest thing from your mind.
School just starting, new routines in place-am I crazy?
Well, yes (you can find plenty of folks to back you up on that) and no-the days keep coming, one after the other, and these big days will be here sooner than we think.
And for grieving parents, it takes some thinking, some planning and some preparation to meet both extended family’s expectations and extra responsibilities at Thanksgiving and Christmas while carrying a load of sorrow and pain.
One thing I am learning in this journey is that even though I wish someone else would blaze the trail for me, I’m going to have to do it myself. And because every major milestone is overflowing with emotional booby-traps, I have to plan ahead.
I wrote this post Practical Ways to Love Grieving Parents at Christmas last year and it has some thoughts that many found helpful.
But I didn’t have it out there until right around Thanksgiving which might be too late for some folks to make adjustments in plans already made by others.
So even though it’s early, and even though I am and have always been one of those people that resents the “holiday creep” that blends everything after the Fourth of July into a hodge-podge of orange, brown, green and red (UGH!)-I’m going to spend the next couple posts on practical ways to plan ahead and relieve some of the stress of this time of year on bereaved parents.
Here’s a few things to get you started:
- Find a notebook or journal (I use a 70 page spiral bound notebook) and write in large print “Holiday Journal” on the front cover.
- Find or print copies of calendars from October through December and staple, tape or glue them on the very last pages or the back cover of your journal.
- On the first page, note any dates (in order) of birthdays, regular family gatherings and trips, etc. that are already committed for those three months.
- On the second and third pages make a heading: BRAINSTORMING. Then list what you like/dislike/hope for/dread about the upcoming holiday season. (an example: I dread having the family together in one place because it makes my son’s absence that much more apparent) Don’t edit yourself-write it all down-we will refer to this later.
- On the fourth and fifth pages make a heading: FAMILY TRADITIONS. Then list all the things your family usually does for the holidays (if this is your first season after loss they will all be pre-loss traditions, if not, they may include both pre-loss and post-loss traditions)
- Place your journal where you can get to it easily but out of reach of small hands and family pets.
Then take a breath-you. are. not. alone.
We’ll work together to establish a survival plan for the holidays.
Tomorrow: Dealing with extended family and how to have those hard conversations.