Dealing In The Face of Loss and Sorrow

Friday was a day of tears and solace. Not just for our nation, but across the world. Too many lives were touched by violence, here in Connecticut and overseas in China. There are no words that can heal, but we can help through prayer and action.

Angel placed near Sandy Hook Elementary for victims of the shooting 

Lives are far too precious to be lost to meaningless crimes we can’t even begin to comprehend. I think Rhonda Hopkins put it beautifully and I’m not going to try to copy her words. I suggest you visit her post – God is not dead nor doth He sleep. Sometimes times horrible things happen, and how we deal and help other through will define us.

A year ago I posted about coping with grief at the holidays. I think now more than ever is the time to revisit that post. If you or anyone you know has experienced a loss and is trying to cope during this holiday season, you may want to share this post or some of the links I am including below.

The Elephant in the Room: Dealing with Grief at the Holidays

Holidays. They’re a time for family and friends. A time when we come together with the ones we love. But as much as we like to paint a pretty picture of the date from afar, up close, many people are dealing with a much different reality. It could be you or someone you know. It’s referred to as “the elephant in the room.” The one everyone tries to ignore, curling up their lips in a smile. As if to say “everything’s okay,” when deep down inside, their core may not match their exterior. It’s what I learned in grief counseling many years ago.

The Big C, Aids, premature heart disease and fatal car accidents. What they all have in common is that they take loved ones from our lives. These few are just a tear drop in the wave of ways they can be taken from us, the few I am intimately familiar with. I’m sure many of you out there have lost loved ones in other forms that are equally as devastating and hold just as much meaning. We blame the reaper for their loss, for doing his job, but the pain is ours to confront and accept. It’s a part of life we sometimes have a hard time accepting when it hits so close to home.

Holidays are often the time when this missing member is most apparent – the piece of your ritual that is no-longer present. The first one to two years will be the hardest. I once heard it compared to a broken limb. This is a rather good analogy. As you must learn to move and get around with a broken leg, say, in a wheel chair, allowances must be made for you to move through a room. People can no longer expect you to jump up and dance at a party. Your limbs will feel weak, achy and sore, in need of much tender care. So is the case in the loss of a loved one.

Now harboring a broken heart, if not a piece of your soul, your friends and family can’t expect you to be overflowing with glee at the holiday affair. Most likely you will not be jumping out of your seat with desires to take that dance floor. You’ll need to make adjustments for your new condition and coddle your broken self just a little.

If you or someone you know is dealing with a loss at the holidays, here are a few things that can help get through the days ahead:

❤            Find a quiet place to write out your feelings and emotions. This might sound painful, but it can help a person work through it. You may even find comfort in getting a special journal for this purpose. The writings are for working through the inner turmoil and don’t need to be shared.

❤            Give yourself permission to express what you’re feeling. This is part of the healing process. If you need to, gracefully excuse yourself from your company and find a private place to let it flow. Believe it or not, it has been scientifically proven that certain brain chemicals in our tears naturally relieve the pain.

❤            Avoid depressants. Even if everyone else at the party is having a drink, it is probably best you pass at this time. If you are already feeling down, the last thing you need is something that will help drag you lower. Grab a sparkling water or cranberry instead. It will look just as festive without the negative side-effect.

❤            Play some music that lifts your spirits. Avoid the tunes that make you melancholy and look for ones that bring you peace and happiness. Avoid songs with special attached meanings to them unless you actually find this to help you.

❤            You may be seeing a theme here, but, avoid activities that were commonly shared activities with the now deceased individual. Or at least, avoid the activities until you have a better grasp on yourself and your loss.

❤            Reading has been known to help people through these rough adjustments. A few good choices would be Grief Observed by C.S. Lewis, The Comfort Book for Those Who Mourn by Anna Trimiew or Don’t Take My Grief Away: What to Do When You Lose a Loved One by Doug Manning.

It will feel as if the world is crashing in around you in those first few days, months, even years. But it’s true what they say, it gets easier with time. It’s not that you forget or that you hurt less, but that you hurt less often. And you will, in time, be able to remember with happiness once again. Trust me, it will happen.

Something I like to do is place a candle out on special days in remembrance of the person or persons who passed on, burning it in remembrance of them. It helps keep them ever present at the event we are celebrating. Try it, you might find this ritual in its simplicity very comforting.

For those feeling the sharp pang of a missing loved one, I hope I have helped, even a little bit, guide you to a slightly better place. For those who know someone who has experienced a painful loss, hopefully this has helped you better understand where your friend or co-worker is coming from. All others, thank you for stopping in, I hope you found this post both insightful and helpful.

★        Remember, holidays are an absolutely wonderful time for friends and family. But not everyone is filled with the joy, and sometimes there are enormously great reasons for it, so open your heart and tread lightly. It’s alright if not everyone is jolly with the holiday spirit.


In memory of all the beautiful souls lostThank you, Lynn Kelly, for the link.

Still looking for help with your feelings during this time of grief or mixed emotions? Maybe one of the following posts can help you:

As we move forward, what we can expect as a result of our nations grief:

About Debra Kristi

Debra Kristi is a mother, an author, a Pinterest addict, and sometimes DIY home decorator. Hang with her to escape the everyday stress. Be sure to leave your mind open to the fantastical.
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21 Responses to Dealing In The Face of Loss and Sorrow

  1. Debra – this is a wonderful post and has some very helpful advice. I have a friend I was just talking with that lost her daughter in a car accident earlier this year. Holidays are especially hard right now for her and her family. I’ll be sharing your post with her. Thank you. And thank you for mentioning my post. Take care.

    • Debra Kristi says:

      I’m so sorry to hear about your friend, Rhonda. The first few holidays are the hardest. Give her a big hug and reassure her that she will pull through. It will get better. You wrote a wonderful post and although I didn’t mention it on FB I’m letting you know now how much I enjoyed it. Thank you for sharing it with us. I’ve been laid up in bed the past few days trying to get over something ugly. As a result, I haven’t been as chatty.

  2. Thanks for this beautiful post with wonderful advice, Debra.

  3. Deliberately Delicious says:

    Such wise advice, Debra, and timely. I think of Christmas five years ago, just after my marriage ended, and four years ago, after my father’s death. They were two of the most difficult times to get through. But we go through them, and we survive, and we are stronger the next year.

    • Debra Kristi says:

      First holidays without a loved one are difficult. When they pass near the marked event it can create a trigger out of the holiday. That makes them a tougher to celebrate with a smile on your face until you learn to put all the memories in their proper place. It’s a process and it takes time. Often times, a lot of time. Hugs, Sally. I hope this year it’s getting easier.

  4. That was an awesome post! The video is heartbreaking to watch, but I’m glad you shared it.

    Patricia Rickrode
    w/a Jansen Schmidt

  5. susielindau says:

    This is so beautiful Debra.
    One of Kelly’s first girlfriends died in a car wreck 4 years ago. I always remember that shock with a heavy heart.
    I recently read a blog that said a friend had lost a child, a job and a husband all in one year. She didn’t want to celebrate, but the writer reminded her to be the light this Christmas to shine on others.

    • Debra Kristi says:

      Those kinds of shocks have a way of staying with us. I’m so sorry about Kelly’s girlfriend. The story you shared about the poor person who lost a child, a job and a husband all in one year reminds me of the story of Job in the Bible. Is it only the strongest that get such harsh tests? It makes you wonder sometimes if there is any reasoning to it. I have faith that she can pull through, although it will probably be a long road for her and she may not feel like she’s succeeding at many time along the way. Here’s to hoping. Thanks for sharing, Susie.

  6. I remember reading this last year. It was good advice then, and it’s good advice now. Very insightful, Debra. 🙂

  7. Beautifully-put reminder that Christmas isn’t merry for all. Forming new traditions while remembering those no longer with us is a great way to get through the holidays. Thank you.

  8. jbw0123 says:

    Thank you. This is timely piece for this time of year, which is always full of memories, good and bad, even when the nation isn’t dealing with an awful tragedy. Best wishes and happy holidays.

  9. Veryl says:

    Deborah, you show so much depth in this writing! So touching and meaningful! Beautiful!

    Love, Aunt Veryl

    Sent from my iPad

  10. Until I watched your clip, I had been “handling” the situation well. That said, I needed a good cry and seeing those 6,7 year-olds’ and the young teachers’ names scrolling hit me in the pit of my stomach. I know that I would have done something and, probably, died had I been at the school. I could not have lived well knowing that they died while I remained still, at least with those in my own room.
    Teachers have always had it rough; now, it is deadly.

    • Debra Kristi says:

      It’s a hard video to watch. It’s easy to keep ourselves removed when we avoid opening our eyes, but I think it makes us better people when we let it in. I think you’re good people Scott and I have no doubt you would have be a shield to your students. Thankfully you weren’t in that situation. I don’t think I would want to live with survivors guilt so I’m on the same page as you on that one.

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