It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas…A lot of people have started writing down their Christmas list, the air has an added coolness, decors and trees adorned houses and establishments, and Christmas carols are now being played on the air waves or MP3s. Christmas is such a special occasion for the Christians and non- Christians alike. It is the time for parties, gift-giving, and family reunions. But Christmas can also be a time for sadness and grief to people who have lost a loved one, and anticipating a “happy” holidays may not be one occasion that excites them.
The loss of a loved one is always difficult, and more so during the holidays or other special occasions. You will always miss that special someone and sadness or grief will always remain.
According to an expert on grief therapy, there are four tasks in mourning:
accept reality loss
experience and bear the pain or grief
adjust to a world in which the dead person is missing
withdraw and reinvest emotional energy
The tasks of mourning begin with the acceptance of the reality of the loss. Being present at the death, seeing the body after death, and the rituals of a funeral all help to bring this home to the bereaved person.
In the early stages of mourning, the bereaved person is preoccupied with the memory of the dead. It is as if the psyche has to re-evaluate all the aspects of the relationship and get it into perspective, accepting and forgiving the bad, and appreciating the good, before letting go. All change that exists within the mind causes stress and most people at some stage try to avoid the pain of grief. They may search for a substitute for the relation that is lost, like if a woman lost a husband, they may re-marry quickly, or adopt another child in place of the one they lost.
Although there is no one generic way to respond to loss, common emotions that a person who lost a loved one may experience shock, anxiety, anger, guilt and depression. One may find it hard to accept that it has happened and worry about falling apart or being unable to cope. Physiological changes may occur, resulting in insomnia or oversleeping, an upset stomach, lack of energy, and/or decrease in appetite. They may also seclude themselves from other people or become clingy to them. They also avoid reminders of what they have lost, or having difficulty separating from the reminders.
So how can one cope with losses? Denying the loss and pretending it never happens can not help. Perhaps the first thing to do is review how one have coped with past losses. But there are a few things a person can do to help alleviate the pain and sadness:
Keep in touch with family and friends: visit, phone, or write. Express your feelings to them.
Let you family and friends know what you need: when they ask what they can do, accept their help.
Keep photos displayed of your loved one: putting photos away won’t shut out the sadness.
Do something for others in need: volunteer in the community or give to charity.
Participate in activities: go shopping, go on group tours with other people; see a movie; go out to dinner.
Change or Continue with your traditions. Some people feel better doing things differently, but others are comforted by traditions. Only you can decide what is best for you.
See a grief counselor in your area or join a support group for counseling.
Once you have recognized and accepted the loss, start to focus on improving the everyday life. Arrange to engage in activities that you have enjoyed in the past, especially social ones. Make sure that you are living healthily, eating appropriately and exercising.
Although it may not be possible to replace the one that have lost, particularly if it is a loved one, try to add new experiences to fill the void. One should also start to focus on the future. Once the bereaved person have come to terms with the loss, he or she can use it as an opportunity to reevaluate life, to reconsider life goals and the direction in which one is heading.
It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas; soon the bells will start, and the thing that will make them ring is the carol that you sing…right within your heart.