Not-So-Merry: Christmas Grief

All those traditional things that make Christmas special–home/dixiblog/domains/afoolsjourney.com/public_html, health, and family–can be the very same reminders that bring so much pain.

Christmas grief visits when what’s missing is much more glaring that what’s there.

I cannot wish “Merry Christmas” to someone for whom I know, it will feel anything but “merry.” I cannot bring myself to brightly say, “Happy New Year!” to someone who is wondering how the Hell they’re going to get through the year at all.

Happiness isn’t much of an option in some cases. “Functioning” is a more realistic wish.

“Wishing you a functional new year” isn’t exactly poetic now, is it?

So for those who are feeling that aching lack….I do have some holiday wishes for you.


Love

May you give and receive enough LOVE to sweeten, if even the tiniest bit, the bitterness life may have visited upon you.

Support

In whatever form it takes, may you receive and feel the SUPPORT to help you through the days and nights, now and to come.

Hope

May you catch glimmers of HOPE that every day will not hurt as much as today does.

Fortitude

May you find the FORTITUDE to get up each day, to take care of yourselves, and to continue through whatever pain you carry, as best you can.


Pain changes us. It can make us cold and emotionally shut down, or it can blast our hearts wide open.

We all have loss. We all bleed. It’s not a choice.

[bctt tweet=”Be kind to everyone you meet. You never know what pain they carry in their hearts.”]

How we go about living in light of the pain? How we honor ourselves, our loved ones and what we stand for? That’s a choice.

And from those I’ve watched do just this, I’ve learned SO MUCH grace. It’s beyond humbling. Thank you for that.

And if you have special people in your life? Consider this a reminder to let them know how much you appreciate them. Because nothing is permanent.

Whatever your situation this year, and whether or not Christmas Grief is a part of it…well…much love to you.

Dix

 

Grief and Spirituality: 10 Tips for Supporting People in Grief Respectfully

“What is the point of all these signs and symbols if they don’t mean anything?”

I was asked this question and I didn’t have a good answer, or even a bad answer. I was too busy asking myself the same thing. It’s called a crisis of faith and it’s not anybody’s idea of a good time.

Grief is on my radar, sorry to say. I’ve been connecting with people neck deep in pain.

Sometimes tragedy strikes good people: people who try to do the right thing, live in the flow and work with spirit, you know? Law of Attraction be damned, life goes beyond a simplistic explanation of what someone has attracted through their thoughts and beliefs. Do I think the Law of Attraction is real? Yes! Do I think it’s one-stop-shopping to explain everything that happens to everybody, all the time? Not even close.

And as gifted as I am at reaching for a positive perspective–if there’s an ounce of bright side, I can suss it out like a champ!–I cannot spew glitter and rainbows over raw, primal pain and magic-wand it into something lovely. Can. Not. Do.

Nor should I try! It’s disrespectful to treat grief trivially–as something to covered up with air-freshener-platitudes so as not to be so bothersome. That is something uncomfortable bystanders do to help themselves feel better around the grieving, not the other way around.

When a tragedy is on the news, or even a string of awful tragedies, you can flip the channel when your compassion muscles are overtaxed and you hit saturation. You may think “How sad.” You may feel shaken up and depressed, for hours or maybe days. Sometimes you donate to a charity, or light a candle or say a prayer or do whatever you do, just to feel like you’re doing a tiny bit to make a difference.

When the tragedy hits your circle–or worse, your life–it’s not so easy. You do the same things, I guess. At least, I do. But it’s different.

I can fall back on idea that people don’t cease to exist after death, and do come to the Earth plane with contracts, specific purposes. And many times those purposes play out in ways that we don’t understand. But that idea isn’t generally very satisfying. It feels too easy, too pat. It may be true–I believe it with my whole heart to be true. That doesn’t eradicate the pain.

But we cannot (and should not) try to sidestep the grieving process. It serves a purpose. Grief reaffirms the value of what we’ve lost. Grief is a function of love and connection. Grief says you had something WORTH caring about! Grief bridges the past to the future, the new normal. Grief is necessary if not tidy.

Truth is, each grieving person has to construct a personal understanding, writing their own story and meaning to attach to the event.

[bctt tweet=”Finding story is a way of walking the path of grief.”]

Some stories will ultimately help one grow, however awful it feels at the time. Other stories will fill a person with anger or engender isolation. Pretty much everybody is changed by grief. You don’t have a choice about the change. Only about the stories, the path you walk with it.

Being touched by grief can leave you feeling helpless, even if the grief is not yours. There are lots of tips for supporting people in grief–ways we can respectfully ease the process for those walking that path.

10 Tips for Supporting People in Grief with Respect

  • Be a witness. Do not try to steer the conversation to things “more cheerful.” Do not try to “bright-side” anything about the situation. Just let the grieving take the lead: sometimes they will focus on the pain, and sometimes they will seek distraction. The process will ebb and flow. Realize that being fully present and allowing them the freedom to focus on what they need to in that moment, neither judging nor flinching, is a gift in and of itself.
  • Accept whatever feelings come up. Extreme emotions can surface, including those usually considered negative like anger and guilt. Don’t tell someone to be strong, when “strong” is the last thing they may feel. Don’t try to spare the grieving their own feelings. They have a right to them! Feelings may change rapidly and will not necessarily make logical sense. Love and acceptance of the emotional messiness of grief facilitates its processing.
  • Do not push your own belief system. If your spirituality comforts you, great! But this ain’t about you. Allow the grieving to decide what comforts them.
  • Do not make social demands. Offer invitations, but do not press if the answer is “no.” Respect an individual attending to their own needs on their own timetable. Small gatherings with familiar friends and low-key settings are easier to manage at first. Understand the need for a fluid approach, allowing grieving people a graceful exit if need be.
  • Do not continually ask, “What can I do?” This can turn into little more than another responsibility in the lap of a person who doesn’t have the focus or emotional bandwidth to think of things that will help you to feel helpful.
  • Do offer specific, practical support. If you can make phone calls, run errands or otherwise help deal with the demands of the situation or daily life that follows, offer–but be specific. If you are extending a social invitation, suggest a specific activity, time and location. “Whatever you want” is just another decision to be made during an overwhelming time. Many people bring food. I know someone who drops off things like tissue, toilet paper, disposable dinnerware, paper towels and other sundries that will come in handy with an influx of visitors. As my mom used to say, “Make yourself useful as well as ornamental.”
  • Handle your own pain outside the circle. Yes, you may be experiencing your own sadness and grief. That’s natural. But do NOT go to a person closer to the loss than you are to seek comfort. It’s not fair to make them to take care of you! Find someone further removed to provide your support. Never dump inside the circle.
  • Do not avoid mentioning the person who is gone. Happy, loving memories are both comforting and healing in times of grief. A grieving person wants their loved one honored, not erased.
  • If you’re concerned about a grieving person committing suicide, ask directly. Don’t hedge. Get it out in the open. You are not going to cause a suicide by giving someone “ideas.” By the time you get to the point of worrying, the idea has long-since hatched. If the responses you get are concerning, help coordinate professional support. Unless you’re trained in suicide intervention, it’s not really a do-it-yourself project.
  • Check in. It’s doesn’t need to be a big production. A small connection, a touchstone in the day, is all it takes. A person who was “fine” yesterday may be a mess today, and even a small dose of love, served up consistently, can be very grounding. Anniversaries and milestones of any sort are especially good times to check in.

And Don’t Forget You!

If you are supporting someone through grief, it will take a personal toll. Don’t feel guilty for your own sadness and stress, even if it seems trivial compared to what’s felt by people closer to the loss. Pay special attention to eating well, sleeping and proper hydration. (I know it sounds silly but it makes a difference.) Have quiet time to process and ground. Get your own support as needed–but always outside the circle. Other people’s pain impacts us and self-care is a vital and often overlooked component of effective support to others.

If you are feeling helpless, you can send love: imagine light coming down from the heavens into the crown of your head and traveling out through your heart, to those suffering. This is a rudimentary form of Reiki, and it does have impact. You can pray, light candles and send healing and love every time you think of it. You can imbue a gift with loving, healing energy and good intention before sending it along. You can memorialize or honor the person who has passed in countless ways–your imagination is the only limit. The big thing here is to take an action, however humble, full of loving intention. It adds healing to the mix and helps you at the same time.

Realize deeply that the present moment is all you ever have. Tolle / Tips for Supporting People in Grief

Whenever we are touched by grief, it’s a hard reminder to take stock of our own connections and express love and appreciation for those people, right now.

Because that right now? That’s really all we ever have.

What would you add to this advice?

Tissue anyone? Dealing with Grief

weekend Forecast

Note: This is an old forecast, but I’m pulling it back up for anyone who needs some encouragement dealing with grief. Hoping it’s not you!


Damn! I pulled for Saturday and Sunday and after seeing what I got, I cringed hard, and drew one more for advice. Tarot Fives are never comfortable, but these two are especially harsh. Sorry to be the bearer of a bleak forecast, but better to know so you can dress appropriately, huh?

One the plus side, Tarot fives are highly dynamic, usually fast-moving agents of change. There is upheaval and uncertainty, but likely not long-term. And they can portend important shifts, made quickly.

We are always saying we want it now, huh? Or maybe that’s just me.

Saturday, Five of Pentacles:  This card screams poverty, feelings of being without. Whether it’s money, love, options, ideas, friends, or something entirely different you feel “out of,” we’re talking standing in the cold. I do usually point out when this card appears, help tends to be available for the asking. The problem is, nobody wants to ask!

You may be hurting and possibly scared, but it’s important to realize not only your role in creating the situation if there was one, but—and don’t hit me for saying this—your potential role in maintaining it. Be aware there likely ARE options that you haven’t been ready to consider. Fair enough if you don’t choose to consider them. You’ll get no judgment from me! Just realize the difference.

Sunday, Five of Cups: What can I say that isn’t obvious? This is a card of grief and loss. We’re not talking a complete loss even though it may feel like it. Still, there’s sadness for what is gone. It may even have snuck up on you and punched you in the stomach when you were looking the other way. Nothing sucks more than sucker-punch sadness, man!

Cry whatever tears come, letting them wash away pain. Be gentle with yourself. Any kind of cleansings, smudging or baths taken with the specific intention to clear away the past issues and pains of all sorts are recommended. Clearing out physical or electronic items associated with pain and loss can also help release the energy, as can journaling or pouring those emotions into some other creative or physical endeavor of your choosing. Just remember wherever you place that energy it stays, so you might want it to be something you’ll be disposing of when you’re done. No baking it into comfort food!

The best way through this kind of energy in my opinion is always surrender and release, surrender and release. Fighting it directly is like denying your true feelings, and such a charade never fools the heart. The feelings themselves will dissipate if you allow them to be spent. Like a shot, it only hurts for a little while.

Coping, Four of Pentacles: You are stable, you are safe. You have what you need. This is what the Four of Pentacles tells me. Hold on to what you have and withdraw if it helps. Take inventory. Ground. Know that you are okay. Honest. Do what you need to in order to feel safe and abate anxiety. Breathe.

Affirmation: It is safe to look within. I am hoping I’m WAY off here for the vast majority of those reading this. But if you’re not one of the lucky ones, know it’s okay—even helpful—to see yourself as clearly as you can, and forgive yourself for whatever shortcomings you perceive, you know?

I’m really seeing this whole thing as a highly internal process—like regrets over lost opportunities or possibilities. Just do the processing that needs to be done, let it pass and look forward to a brighter week ahead. I’m on call for virtual hugs should anybody want to collect one.

Much love to any who need it.

You doing okay?

Tissue anyone? Dealing with Grief 1Tissue anyone? Dealing with Grief 2
Tarot Illuminati by Eric Dunne & Kim Huggens

Schedule a session with Dixie.

From Grief to Peace? 1-Card Video Tarot Reading

“I don’t know what the question is. Except how can I find some peace?” -S

S. explains she’s recently lost a couple of people to death and is in a lot of pain. She’s looking for some relief from the grief.

Short answer: Quiet the inner critic, say what you need to say to them (they’re around), and start taking steps to put parameters around the pain and therefore, impact. Schedule time for processing to “fall apart” so you can continue to function the rest of the time. Begin acting more peaceful and the emotions catch up with you.

How do you get past grief?

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