While everyone else throws back rum and eggnog and busies themselves with holiday shopping, those of us in grief are doing our best just to get through the day. Hearing a holiday song, smelling a familiar scent or walking by a decorated store window can be all it takes for us to come undone. So, what can you do? Well, quite a lot. Below are my suggestions for how I plan to get through -- I hope it's of help to you too.
I am terrified that tens of millions of Americans came out in spades to support a man who is endorsed by the KKK, a known terrorist group. Trump is an admitted sexist, a liar, cheat and alleged rapist. A man(child) with zero political background -- completely and entirely unqualified for any position of stature. He is Hitler 2.0, and he now represents the most powerful country in the world. It is, in a word, devastating.
For anyone who's lost a pet, the heartache is significant and can last a long time. Feelings of grief can cause mental distraction, loss of appetite, bouts of extreme sadness and even lasting depression. Why, then, are we expected to get back to work after the loss of a pet without being allowed to take time off?
Parents often want their kids to hurry up and be OK again. It is difficult to sit with a grief-stricken child. However, if we leap-frog over the grieving process and truncate our feelings, especially our heavier, stickier feelings, we -- both child and adult -- remain emotionally stuck. True freedom from the heartbreak is to walk through the panoply of feelings as they ebb and flow.
As there will be some special days that make it painful, you can plan ahead. If you have recently lost your father, than make sure you're with supportive individuals on his birthday, or on Father's Day. You will want to surround yourself with people who respect your grieving process. Make sure you accept the love and support of your friends and family members.
Find ways to honour those you miss. Look at old photos and tell stories of any loved ones you have lost. Honour the expectations that you may have had for relationships, life and even your vision of the season, as they are a part of our story. Let a lost loved one remain alive in you, and be an active part of your experience.
Today marks four months since my daughter Rehtaeh ended her life. It's said that losing a child is the hardest thing a person can experience and if there is something worse I can't imagine what it could possibly be. The last four months have been hell peppered with smiles as I think back on memories. I cherish those when they come, even if they last for only a moment. This is the hardest thing I have ever faced. This is an ocean of grief. I'm treading water in a tidal wave of pain, disbelief, anger, sadness, waves and waves of heartache.
I am a widow. Friendships, I learned, are not immune to grief. Despite what you may think, some friends will leave you when you need them the most. Perhaps they don't know what to say or how to act. After speaking to people in similar situations, I now realize that in many cases, friendship and grief do not mix.
Why is it so difficult to treat depression? Part of the problem is in our definition of the term. In fact, there are two distinct depressions: situational and clinical. It would be so much easier if we called the two depressions by different names, for then we could explain better how we feel and know better what might help.