Avoiding Holiday Stress
Much of the stress and tension we experience during this time is a result of our expectations. We do want to please everyone on our list and make the holidays memorable for all hence we can overextend ourselves to the point of exhaustion.
Regardless of whether you’re grieving a loss, or not you’re possibly feeling the anxiety and stress of living in these pandemic times.
Many areas are opening up while others are closing down again. We are continuing to live a roller coaster ride. The everyday realities of our day to day lives are already stressful without adding on the holiday season.
The question is “how do we avoid this stress?” Before you begin your whirlwind of seasonal preparations, ask yourself what the aspects of each holiday are.
There’s shopping for the perfect gift for everyone on our list. Organizing and getting our homes ready for entertaining and being the perfect host. What about the parties we may be expected to attend? Our minds are working overtime while in reality, we want to remain calm.
We have Hollywood and marketers to thank for helping to create these unrealistic expectations.
Sometimes it takes grieving for us to realize the pressure we put on ourselves to live up to what we believe “others” expect of us.
5 Ways to Simplify
Take time now to step back and decide what you want the holidays to be about.
- If you always host – decide if you need help and ask for it or
- Let everyone know, you’re not hosting this year and let someone else step up
- Simplify gift-giving – draw names instead of buying for everyone just because you always do!
- Chose which parties you feel you have the energy to attend. Speak to the host and if you’re grieving let them know it may get a bit much and you’ll simply leave. Plan your exit strategy as this will help you feel more relaxed.
- If you’d prefer not to bother with any holiday festivities – then share your intention with your family.
- Decide to give yourself a gift of your own company and book into a hotel, share your intention and be guilt-free about it.
Just for this year consider transforming your approach to your holiday celebrations instead of letting your expectation and Holywood perfection guilt you into doing more.
Your body and your bank balance will thank you for it!
Love, Light & Peace
It’s that time of year! You either love, hate or are indifferent to it. This is especially so if you’re grieving.
It’s is a harsh reminder of your loved ones who won’t be there celebrating with you. Your heart is heavy, your energy is low. Instead of seeing colour and the lights around you, your world feels grey instead. Perhaps you feel your light has dimmed for now. Take heart there are other ways to view this time of year.
Take time out just for you to be with your feelings and emotions and remember why we celebrate. Perhaps seeing your situation from a different perspective?
5 Mindset Shifts
- step into and feel the essence of the season – love & compassion, goodwill and peace
- let your heart be open and not closed down against further hurt – feel gratitude for having known them and take time to remember the ways they helped to give your life meaning
- find memories and stories tucked away in your mind of your loved one and share them with others. Talk to them and about them. Say their name.
- allow yourself to feel sad (don’t discount your emotions) list everything you miss about them and then check your gratitude list.
- Laugh and cry, move around or shake/dance your emotions out. The benefit is you’ll feel lighter afterward
For now, something to reflect on……
The holiday season began in early November with Divali – which is known as a series or row of lights, Hanukkah began at month’s end and is a Festival of lights. The Buddhists celebrate Bodhi day in early December, the day of the Buddha’s enlightenment. The Winter Solstice – the longest night of the year is next. Returning us slowly back to the light! Christians everywhere celebrate Christ’s birth which we celebrate with lights. They adorn some homes and gardens, on trees and lampost in some streets and of course indoors on our Christmas trees.
I think you’re beginning to see a picture here. Regardless of religion or culture, we all seem to have something in common and that’s our delight at seeing the world being adorned in light. This fuels us and gives us hope.
I’m not sure about you but I know, each year I want to feel the warmth, love and connections that seem abundantly available this time of year. Allow this to fill your heart.
To me, this is the essence of Christmas and this time of year.
Wishing you all a safe, healthy joy-filled holiday.
Please note if you’ve experienced a loss, do connect and know you don’t have to struggle alone. email@example.com
even then that’s been difficult because of all the covid restrictions.
No need to be reminded of how our world changed and shifted overnight and continued for 18 months plus! For the majority of us, we were left alone with minimal or no support at all.
Physical connection (or human touch) with our family, work, and/or friends had suddenly vanished. They could only be accessed via the phone or online platforms.
No hugs, no office, familiar routines, retail therapy, get-togethers, concerts, live sporting events or trips. These were just a few of the pleasures we lost.
Suddenly, our world changed and became unfamiliar. We were alone and left to figure out new ones with our friends and immediate households.
Collectively we experienced grief although for most it wasn’t recognized as such. When you look at it there was an ending, the death of the life we once enjoyed. The familiar had gone and all that was left with uncertainty.
Modern Technology Allows us to Stay in Touch
Not only did many families have to work from home, (those fortunate enough) but also they became responsible for the online learning for their children. Suddenly life became much more complex.
As if that wasn’t enough you may have experienced unexplained mood swings, temperamental emotions and shorter tempers. A slow build-up of frustrations with no escape, or minimal distractions available to help you cope. Worrisome for sure.
These are all normal and likely you were experiencing grief for the loss of “normal” and these emotions are to be expected during times such as this.
Throughout this period of pandemic restrictions, we have lived life on a roller coaster of HOPE. The anticipated and widespread availability of an anti-coronavirus vaccine and for life to return to its pre-pandemic normal times.
Fear, anxiety and distress were behind many of these emotions experienced during this time and were responsible for many of our behaviours. Each time the death statistics for those who had died because of COVID, our fear level increased.
A famous quote says, “a single death is a tragedy, a million deaths are a statistic.” In the case of the pandemic, we have witnessed millions of death. Behind each death, there is a tragic story. Each time someone died, and often alone these bereaved families experienced an unthinkable level of grief.
This ‘pandemic grief’ experienced by them is likely to be more complicated than the pre-pandemic grief. In years to come, researchers and anthropologists will create a clearer picture of the impact this particular grief has had on those left behind. For now, we can only offer support and to be there for them once restrictions are lifted.
Funerals became Virtual Events
Even holding funerals (or any celebrations of life) have become extremely complicated due to the restrictions placed on any sort of gathering. Therefore, funerals were attended virtually by many bereaved individuals through the screens of their computers. Even, the intimate family moments of life were experienced online.
Some families may decide to hold off a funeral until larger gatherings take place. That way they can properly honour the deceased with the support of their families and community. But in their case, one question pops up in my mind: have they put their grief on hold too?
When the funeral does take place, some who haven’t experienced a loss, may question the need to hold such a gathering after all this time? It is well documented that support is still needed and appreciated in the years following a death. Sometimes the 2nd or 3rd years can be just as difficult. Your support will be appreciated more because the casseroles and support given to families soon after the death occurs just weren’t available.
Needs of Grief for Healing
The important role played by funerals in society can easily be disregarded by many people. However, ceremonies and rituals are parts of our DNA, and rituals provide comfort during our tough times. The funeral, therefore, is the most significant ritual in our society, as it provides us with an opportunity to say a final goodbye.
It is public; it is traditional and is part of the mourning process. An opportunity to express those thoughts and feelings about life, death, and our mutual affiliation with the deceased. In a memorial service, we can honour and celebrate the life of the deceased individual by sharing our collective stories.
We have an opportunity to remember the life of the deceased and recall how his (or her) life gave meaning to ours. In this manner, we are provided with much-needed support and allows us to realize that we are not alone in our difficult times.
Allan D. Wolfelt, Ph D., has recognized various needs, which are central to the healing process after we experience grief. We can find more about these needs in his book titled, ‘Understanding Your Grief.’
Collective Grief Healing
The endurance of grief necessitates support from other people, and it is not a solo undertaking. That’s why support for families is so critical. Also why we take time to call the bereaved families or visit them to listen to their stories over a cup of tea or coffee.
Please continue to bake your famous lasagna or chilli casserole and take it to them to show them that you care. It may be a year later but don’t underestimate the healing presence brings to those grieving.
During the pandemic, we’ve all witnessed how quickly our lives can change and how uncertain is life itself, especially without the familiar routines, This is how life is for many when their loved ones die. The unfamiliar situation becomes their reality of life.
With death or loss of our “normal lives”, grief will be experienced whether we realize it or not.
There is no hierarchy in loss, all loss is felt and experienced for what it meant to the person. Whenever there is an ending there will naturally be sadness.
Humans Need Connections & Touch
During our lockdown period, it was our physical connection and support that was missing. It’s the human touch we thrive on. The hug was an integral missing component during the pandemic period. We actually crave connections and physical touch.
Collectively we all need to heal from the Pandemic Grief by sharing our losses, and telling what this period meant to us. We must not compare our griefs: we must only listen to each other.
Perhaps we will in our communities organize ” loss gatherings” so that other people witness our stories and we theirs. In this way, we can all collectively begin to heal the grief we’ve all experienced during this time.
Please do not grieve alone, or further isolate yourself: Reach out, as help is available.
If you’re ready and committed to heal your grief and live your life fully, I can help you. You can always connect with me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
We look to nature as being the perfect mother. She doesn’t love you because of what you do, but she loves unconditionally without judgment. She refuses to withhold her blessings from us just because we have wronged her in some way. Sometimes, Mother Nature is known as the Great Mother or Gaia, and she has given us a blueprint for what mothering is. Our mother has given us a safe have to live and thrive.
In the same way, our physical mothers adopt and show us the same unconditional love.
Throughout the season’s mother feeds us and provides beauty as she dresses her world in the colours of each season. Spring is when she colours our world alive with flowers, which burst through the once-frozen ground to begin their life cycle. In doing so bring new promise for more beautiful things to come.
Spring is the home of so many mothers! The birds and animals that enjoy this season are doing their best to prepare for when their babies come, building nests as a place where these offspring can thrive. Everywhere we look around us at springtime there’s evidence of motherhood.
It is against this backdrop that we hold our Mother’s Day in recognition for all they’ve given to us.
In North America Mother’s Day is celebrated later than in Europe which is held in March. Probably because this is when their spring flowers begin to bloom. I mention this as I get to celebrate with the UK as my daughter lives there then again in May. I get the best of both worlds and double spoiling as it brings me connections with my female ancestors!
Now I’m the matriarch of the family the day is all mine. I no longer share it with mum physically as she died many years ago. Although the overwhelming grief and pain I felt at her death have softened and healed long ago. The feelings of sadness and nostalgia of the many mother’s days we did celebrate come to mind. I am both grateful and thankful we had mum in our lives as long as we did. It is never easy saying goodby to a parent regardless of your age. I can only begin to imagine what it was like to be an orphan as mum had been.
Mum never let herself be a victim to her circumstances and early life upbringing, Instead, she threw herself into creating a safe and loving world for my sister and me. A world she never had. Her family meant so much to her and was her greatest joy.
It’s during Mother’s Day, that my thoughts often go to her mum, my grandma Isabella, I only know her name. I wonder what she was like and would love to have known more. It is so sad that all those memories are no longer available, nothing was written down about their lives. Mum was only 5 when her mum died.
It is through my study of this work that I’m aware of how our ancestors DNA lives on within us. I can find comfort in knowing I’m carrying a long line of women who’ve survived and thrived throughout the ages. How many women in my ancestral line never met their biological mother but were raised by adoptive parents, grandparents or relatives even friends. All of their values have been passed down regardless. For all of those women who gave themselves to create life.
Mothers therefore are complex many carrying the traumas from previous generation. None the less Mothers are the nurtures, the keepers of house and hearth. They represent creation and sacrifice, they’re the compassionate nurturing ones, tender and loyal.
Our mothers are our first teachers, they show us right from wrong and how to navigate life, keeping us safe throughout our lives with them. Our mothers give us our values they ignore our faults. She holds her grief and tears wanting to show her children how to laugh and to find joy.
As mother nature gives and demands little in return from us, it’s the same for mothers everywhere. Mother provides and helps her children grow and evolve allowing the next generation to thrive in ways not available to the previous ones.
For those who have had their mothers live into their elder years, it is difficult for them to live life without them. They’ve never known life without a mother by their side. When experiencing Mother’s Day they’re uncertain how they can survive Mother’s day.
My only suggestion as Mother’s Day approaches is for daughters whose mothers are very much in their lives that they cherish the time they have with each other. Also, ask questions about their ancestors as they spend time with their mothers and not wait as I did until it’s too late.
For those grieving their mother’s this year and are unsure what to do, I invite you to connect with the Great Mother, as so many have done in the past, or go out into nature, into the woods and let nature bring you solace as your mourn.
COVID Mother’s Day
This year because of COVID 19 lockdowns, there will be many, not able to celebrate the day in person with their adult children or their mothers. I’m going to take a leaf out of my mother’s book and instead of feeling sorry for myself, I plan to enjoy a walk in nature. I can be with our Great Mother and relish her wisdom and beauty. There I’ll celebrate all mothers in my lineage in remembrance of their lives, loves, sacrifices and losses as well as their joys and accomplishments because of them, I’m here. Thank you to all.
Unwelcome Conversations take courage, talking about death is never easy but necessary, it gets easier once you begin.
We plan for most things in our lives so why don’t we plan for our life’s end? Perhaps its denial, too morbid, or it’s costly to implement. Let’s imagine that you have already completed it. How do you feel? Lighter, freer, powerful knowing you’ve taken control, more relaxed, content knowing your exact wishes will be carried out and not left up to your family to figure out.
If you have aging parents you could open the conversation up with them. It may be something they’re already thinking about but were unwilling to discuss for fear of upsetting you. Opening up the conversation about your own thoughts and plans could create a meaningful conversation for both.
Thinking of our own life’s end isn’t something we readily consider until a terminal illness is given. After all the medical treatment options have been exhausted, palliative care may be considered or even medical assistance in dying (MAID) may be an option in some extreme cases.
Use your beliefs and values to guide you
Your life values and/or religious beliefs will help determine your decision. You’ll be asked many questions that may be difficult to answer when you are ill or in pain. There may come a time when you’re unable to speak for yourself and the decisions are left to your family to make.
They may un-wittingly choose the opposite of what you would have wanted. They may forever blame themselves for not knowing or doing more. Other family members could disagree resulting in feuds or legal battles.
Three Thoughts that Hold you Back
Denial – There is nothing so certain as death or taxes and living in denial that you’ll “live forever” so there is lots of time to plan later. Wouldn’t you feel happier knowing that you had plans in place so that your physical, emotional, spiritual and practical needs are met?
Morbid – in the West, we live in a death adverse society. Thinking about or talking about death can feel morbid. No one has taught us how to deal or be with death comfortably. However, thinking about your own death can help you appreciate all you have at this moment and help you live a fuller life. Living life well means you’ve planned your life.
Costly – when you think of Lawyers and Funeral Homes, these are expensive, especially if you are unsure of what you want. That’s why educating yourself in all areas of what you will want to put in place may be less costly. You and/or your family will not be making decisions under pressure.
Downloadable FREE Advanced Care Planning Kits
These are free and you can find out more here. You don’t have to figure it all out on your own. Navigating the medical and legal systems is complex enough, however, this guide will outline all the important topics you need to consider. You could use this to begin the unwelcome conversation with your own family.
Take control over what’s important to you. It’s easier to make decisions when you’re not in a challenging situation when they are much harder to make.
When imagining our own death, to die peacefully in our sleep would, of course, be the first choice. Regrettably, this isn’t what usually happens. Most of us want to be free of pain and suffering and this is where medical treatment, ethical and moral decisions are required.
Take action today and download your Advanced Care Planning kit, you can always change your mind later but at least you and your family will know what you want at your end of life.
We all plan for birth why not death?