Christmas and Grief

Ice Crystals

Especially on holiday celebrations we all of a sudden painfully get aware that a loved one is missing.

I remember the first Christmas without my grandma who was the most important person for me when I was a child. She knew how impatiently I was waiting to see the decorated tree and hear her singing Christmas Carols with her angel-like voice and she took my mind off that by telling me stories from her youth or playing cards. It was hard for me to understand how grandma could leave me alone and I was almost unable to handle this first holiday without her who was bringing the peacefulness into my family because my parents kept arguing with each other every day. It took a long time to think about those wonderful Christmas Eve memories without crying.

What helped me to grief was having her picture on my night desk and talking to her. Later on I could write a story about “My Christmas with Grandma”.

Then I remember the first Christmas without my dad. He used to decorate the tree in a special way, he used to play the Christmas Carols on his little electronic organ and he used to enjoy eating a special dish from Silesia called “Lebkuchen-Suppe (Gingerbread Soup). I loved watching him eating. When something tasted very good he used to close his eyes to enjoy it with all his senses.

The most important things about grieving and mourning are time, emotion and conversation.

Time: People are asking me “How long am I supposed to grief?”

I don’t like the word “suppose” because it talks about an expectation from somebody else, the society, the community, the family. We’re unique human beings; everybody is different. We have to allow ourselves the time we need and we should not be bothered by what anybody might think.

Emotion: We have a right and a left brain to be a whole person. I’m sure aware that we’re raised to just use our rational, reasonable left brain, but imagine the picture of all the half human beings walking down the street and imagine a world without the beauty of art and creation. So, we have to live our right brain as well and it stands for emotions. Without living our emotions, our sadness, our anger or our joy we can’t heal or live in a really healthy way.

Conversation: And last but not least we’re social beings. We need to connect to other people and the most important way for doing that is conversation. Not the usual small talk about the weather but real conversation which means opening up and talking about serious topics like death. In therapy we call it “speaking out loud”. If you’re able to talk about a traumatic event in your life part of your pain is gone even if it doesn’t feel like that in the very moment you do so.

Our deceased loved ones are not far away. They’re with us every day till the end of our own life.

I don’t need a handyman for many things because I have inherited a skill for using tools from my dad. He never left the house without his camera and I inherited his photographic talents. He loved holding speeches and I love doing presentations. I carry his memories in my heart at any time and wherever I go.

Healthy grieving means that someday you’re sitting together with your friends or family and you are able to talk about your happy memories with a smile of love on your face, feeling the very special comfortable warmth and peacefulness inside of you letting you know that the deceased love one is with you at this moment.

Merry Christmas!

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