The COVID-19 pandemic has been one of the worst experiences ever in the last 100 years. Most would agree after all that has transpired it couldn’t possibly get any worse. Previous predictions in the media stated it could get worse and sadly it has as we’ve move into the colder months. Predictions also indicated another two hundred thousand deaths before January. Well, we actually loss three hundred thousand in one day and now predictions state as people continue to gather for Christmas and New Years, these events will become super spreaders of this deadly virus. The holidays is one of the most difficult times of the year where people experience immense sorrow which begins to surface around November and escalates approaching Christmas and the New Year. We continue to see a rise in COVID cases as well as a rise in deaths. Many families are experiencing multiple deaths in their immediate family due to this pandemic. Accelerated requirements for burial of those who have succumbed as a result COVID and restrictions in number of persons allowed to gather to pay their respects is another factor of stress that can impact your ability for closure. Experts are again recommending no large traditional gathering for Christmas and New Years. Which forces those grieving into that of further loneliness and even depression if not careful. Christmas music, holiday parties, and festive decorations all I genuinely love and meant to spread holiday cheer can do the opposite and bring the onset of great sadness. I’ve experienced that rapid onset of grief my own self when I loss my mother and now my father. Below are a few suggestions for those brave enough with a pandemic to still be out and about that helped me and it’s my prayer that these tips help you during this holiday season.
1. Grief is a part of healing. So it’s okay to miss your loved one and feel sad about them not being here for the holidays. In time you will be able to deal with loss and the holidays. Allow yourself to feel what you are feeling in that moment whether it be happiness, sadness, or guilt. Trust the grieving process.
2. This is the time of year invitations to holiday parties typically would be on overload. If you are not feeling up to attending it’s okay to not attend. Don’t feel obligated to please others, decline the invitation and be honest about it.
3. Be realistic that you will not be able to control others about their feelings on the holidays. There are oversized Elf’s just oozing with holiday cheer crowding the streets, restaurants and stores. If you choose to do some shopping consider online shopping. Try carry out or curbside pickup to avoid the office parties during happy hour. If you decide to attend, drive your own car so when you’ve had enough or it’s becoming difficult to cope you can leave. It’s okay to limit your decorations or not decorate at all. Remember it’s your house so no permission is required.
4. Find a way to honor your loved one. This worked really well for me and I hope it does for you. I do the things I loved doing with my mother over the holidays and it makes me feel close to her and helps my mind to focus on the happy times I had with her. I have ornaments my mother made for my sister and I that adorn my tree every holiday. I feel a sense of warmth and love when hanging them. Master your loved ones favorite recipe. They made it for you with love honor your love for them by learning to make it for not just yourself, but share it with your family and friends. Make new traditions by intertwining the old family traditions with the new. Your loved one wanted you to live life to the fullest. Honor their memories by being happy.
5. Spend time helping the less fortunate. Doing so you will remove the focus of sadness from yourself by giving to others. Visit the elderly, get involved at church visiting the sick and shut in. Volunteer your time to read to children at the library or even virtually.
6. Children and their grief must be handled delicately and can be compounded with that of sadness, feelings of abandonment, and simply a lack of understanding the complexity of death itself. Don’t turn a blinds eye and think their sadness overtime will eventually go away. Children are naturally inquisitive so they will have plenty of questions. Talk to them with honesty. Try to answer their questions and when you can’t be honest about that too. Seek the help of a professional grief counselor to assist your little one with moving through the grieving process.
7. If you hadn’t already consider pet adoption. It is one of the most rewarding things you could do for God’s little furry creatures. Pets are great for helping you move through the grieving process. They are not only great for adults they are awesome for kids. Your pet provides unconditional love. They remove feelings of loneliness and provide protection. Their sensory ability is phenomenal in knowing when you are not at your best emotional and quickly provided consoling just when it’s needed.
8. If none of the above helps, don’t be afraid to seek professional help for yourself. Let family and friends know that you are struggling. Make your pastor and church family aware as well.
I guess you could say, I accomplished a lot professionally, personally and since becoming a published author. With all my success, do I still miss my mother and father? Yes, more than words could ever describe. Do I still have moments of great sadness? Yes, but when I do I do some of the things fore-mentioned above. With all that, I also learned to not be so hard on myself. I’m not perfect and there is no perfect storm preparation to deal with grief. Everyone is different and grief itself is the hurricane invisible on your emotional radar. When it hits, it can cause unimaginable devastating effects on your life. Be aware that it is difficult to not mourn the loss of phenomenal people in your life, but those same people prayed that you be just as phenomenal in your own right. God placed them in your life to give you life nuggets to carry on to be just as great if not greater. Remember, you are not alone. There are people that love you and want to help you through this time in your life. The unimaginable grief in the loss of a loved one does not have to be infinite. The struggle is real, but you can and will recover.
Please continue to wear your mask, wash your hands, and practice social distancing when possible. Wishing you God's blessing on your journey!