Diwali, the festival of lights, a key celebration for Hindus, Jains, Sikhs and some Buddhists began the winter holidays on November 4th. Chanukah and Advent begin this Sunday. December 8th is the feast of Rohatsu (Bodhi Day), the day when Buddha made his vow to sit under the Bodhi tree until he reached enlightenment. Bodhi day has the same weight as the Christian celebration honoring Jesus on Christmas.. The Wicca and Pagan traditions celebrate the winter Solstice on December 21st. Clearly, light is a universal and central theme in all of these celebrations.
It is no wonder that so many traditions celebrate light during earth’s dreariest cycle, winter darkness. Like autumn when the leaves fall and die, winter’s barrenness, and short days seem suitable for a grieving heart. Indeed, it can be painful living in a celebrating world when your heart feels so dismal. Anytime of year, but especially during the holidays, one of the more challenging tasks of grief is to honor the sorrow but allow the heart some pleasure. If you are experiencing acute grief, a healthy approach to the holidays is to respect both the need for comfort and the need for the genuine joys of the season. In balance, each is essential to healing.
Several years ago when someone I loved dearly was experiencing her first holidays after a horrific loss, I made her a comfort and joy box with items ready to meet her need to be comforted and things to simply make her happy. As a pro-active step to facing the inevitable moments you will need reassurance or to remind yourself it’s okay to celebrate, I encourage any grieving person to build their own comfort and joy box. Some items that heal the mind, body and spirit might include:
- Your grieving heart’s Christmas wish list
- Poems, short stories
- Photograph of your loved ones – living and deceased
- CD or other means of music
- Treats – chocolate, favorite snack
- Letters, cards that have been comforting
- Tea, Coffee, energy drink, Emergen-c
- Journal and pen
- Soft, comforting items – socks, blanket or wrap
- Clothing with the scent of your deceased loved one
- Foot soak, face mask or bath bomb
- Trail book or a prompt for activities that uplift you
- Envelope with something you have always wanted to try or do
- Envelope with inspirational quotes
- Phone number of someone you have been meaning to call or connect with
- Letter writing supplies
- An enjoyable book
The holidays are upon us, it is inevitable that grief will feel more intense. Whatever small measure of self-care you can take is good. Reach out to those around you, make your needs known, and remember, like all steps of the grief journey, this too shall pass. As each tradition celebrates its winter festival, let us be reminded there is light in the darkness.
During this holiday time, we wish you moments of lightness in the midst of the pain.
We wish you companionship of beloved people in the midst of the loneliness.
We wish you healing as you learn to endure these days. Most of all, we wish you peace.
Miles Funeral Home