Grief during special occasions

The Christmas season can stir up powerful emotions for people. Whether you practice specific expressions of faith, or focus on spending time with family and friends; the month of December can bring up mixed emotions in relation to the year past. You may be regretful about conflict with a friend, or sad about those in your family or community that have passed away. It is often a time to reflect on the successes and joys as well as the hardships and sorrows of the year.

Family caregivers, you may be painfully aware of how your spouse or parent has changed this year. Seeing a loved one decline in their physical and mental abilities truly does tug on the heartstrings. These feelings of helplessness, sadness or worry are a form of grief-  a gap in the heart that notices how life is very different than it was before. Even though you may be able to function just fine in your daily routines, something doesn’t feel quite right when you are grieving.

For some caregivers, anxiety about the future looms large.  Others find it stressful or tiring to try and be “up” for the social occasions of the season. These are all understandable feelings, considering all you have been through.
I invite you to notice what you’re feeling right in this moment. Is your body signaling that it’s worn out? Is your chest feeling tight? Are your thoughts busy and worried? It is crucial to give yourself permission to STEP AWAY from activities that are too much for you. Adding to your existing responsibilities may cause you to go through burnout, and I  don’t want that.

You may ask , “How do I step away?”. I recommend a terrific article on saying “no” with more confidence and less emotional strain. This article is based on Marshall Rosenberg’s philosophy of Non-Violent Communication, where the aim is to convey that you care about the other person and their needs, AND that you sometimes need to say “no” to specific requests. Read Saying “No” without Saying “No” here:


Here are a few book ideas on coping with loss:
Please note that we have Leaves Falling gently in our resource library here at Capilano Mall in North Vancouver.

Denholm, Diana B. The Caregiver Wife’s Handbook: Caring for your Seriously Ill Husband, Caring for Yourself.

Berman, Claire. Caring For Yourself While Caring For Your Aging Parents: How to Help, How to Survive.

Bauer-Wu, Susan. Leaves Falling Gently: Living Fully with Serious and Life Limiting Illness through Mindfulness, Compassion and Connectedness.

May you treat yourself with kindness this season, no matter the kind of loss you may be experiencing.



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