A 1… 2… 3… Approach to the Holiday Glow for Bereaved

by Elle Fagan

Grieving? Almost all forms of winter holidays share a message of Life and Light in the midst of dormancy and dark. Focus on that message. That’s YOU this year. And yet, you can find the glow, anyway, almost as easy as 1, 2, 3:

Confront and win – with yourself Think about and understand your own status: where are you on the path to healing? What might work this year to make a holiday? If you are medicated, do not mix with holiday alcohol. Non-alcoholic is just as tasty and safer. Search, online and off, and ask your doctor for his advice.Like a Santa’s bag for health and happiness; knowledge is power. I learned from my own grief recovery, and later counseling, it comes down to the simple message: “Hang in, it gets better – It DOES get better.” Do a few things to help it get better. Know that this year, the very things that use to delight may be acutely painful, without some attention.

Confront and win – with the children or other close friends and family A talk session on the topic, at the very least, shows you care and understand. “Put the ball in their court” for a minute and ask THEM to think what might work to make the winter holiday nice. Being invited to contribute ideas is a fine anti-depressant and helps them get in charge of themselves again.

Act on the results of 1 and 2 – see? It’s Easy! Which is good, because grief is stupefying. If you are a believer, go right ahead and enjoy the eternity of the spirit and its mantle of love among you as one of your rightful benefits. I do not believe in escapism, but just this once, do not “stew in your own juices” too much. A cozy “dug in at-home” holiday may NOT work. Mix at home times with travel to fun places and plan as a unit. Enjoy the trip gently but thoroughly. Gently, because grief is no joke, respect its drain on you this first year.

Some families end up with not-to-be-missed holiday traditions at home. Just this one time, keep a few and let up on a few, if you feel like it. When the children and I did up the first few of them as a threesome instead of foursome, it was tearful, but suddenly we were so surprised and proud to find ourselves as whole persons being just fine essentially.

So we did up another and another and then together, we prepared and enjoyed the trip. It felt like quite a little triumph before we were done.

One more treat: returning home after the holiday travel! The nice feeling called “home” was better again for the way we did it. Best of all, WE did it!

Happy Holiday to you and all of your own.

About the Author: About the Author: Elle Fagan was born in Fairfield, Connecticut. She married sweetheart, Vincent “Peter” Fagan, Jr. in 1966. Peter died suddenly from Berry’s Intracranial Aneurysm at 39 in 1981. Since widowhood, Elle, an artist, continues to show her work worldwide and is a member of the American Watercolor Society. Elle is a lifelong member with American Red Cross and assisted during Viet Nam, local disaster, Operation Desert Storm and Y2K. She currently donates some of her prize-winning art to help good causes, from her studio on the waterfalls at Fox Hill in Vernon, Connecticut. She has two children, Peter John and Amy. You may visit Elle at her website.