This time of year should be joyful, hopeful, exciting, and filled with anticipation. But when you’re grieving, the holidays often produce feelings of dread instead of happy expectation. If you’re grieving, what are you supposed to do? Are you doomed to an anxiety-ridden season?
Nothing will happen automatically. But can you do anything to make things better? I think you can.
I’m going to suggest something to you that may seem forced, unnatural. Try to set those feelings aside and focus instead on what it is that you’re trying to do. You’re doing your best to stay hopeful.
Whatever it takes for you to smile, to feel like standing up on the inside—do it!
As an example, look at the photo of these whimsical chairs. Can you look at it and keep from smiling? It’s playful. The images and colors are happy ones. I couldn’t keep from smiling when I saw them all lined up together—and that’s why I had to capture the scene. I knew I’d come back later and smile at it again and again.
Here’s another one. This little guy (his name is Max) makes me smile every day. Actually, he’s not so little. He’s about seventeen pounds of all-boy, in contrast to his lightweight, princess-like sister. He’s precious. He’s funny and loving. And he’s a character—full of personality and charm and mischief. We’re always trying to figure out what kind of trouble he’s going to get into next!
What makes you smile? What keeps you going?
Bob Hope once said, “I have seen what a laugh can do. It can transform almost unbearable tears into something bearable.”
Who or what causes you to stick up for hopefulness? If you don’t have a reason, I hope you’ll look around until you find at least one. Moments of laughter give you much-needed relief and help to keep hope alive.
Hopefulness is worth sticking up for, especially during this season that is so challenging for anyone who is grieving. This year, you may not want to do all the holiday things you typically do, or participate in all of your usual family traditions. If you don’t feel up to doing certain things—then don’t! But be careful to keep from completely isolating yourself and allowing yourself to sink into hopelessness.
Look for something to grab hold of, something or someone to put a smile on your face. Treat yourself with extraordinary care! Graciously say ‘no’ when you need to—and refuse to feel guilty about your response. ‘No’ is not permanent. Just be sure to find something you can say ‘yes’ to this year.
Decide to stick up for hopefulness, especially during grief. It’s worth sticking up for!
© 2012 Judy Brizendine