by Jan McDaniel
The answer to that question is both simple and complex and lies within the human brain and our experiences. After a significant loss, everything is different, but sights and sounds that are stored in the brain from years of mostly pleasant associations and from general, cultural experiences as well as our personal experiences make neural pathways that connect the present to the past. In other words, we expect things to be the same as we have experienced them before.
When this can't happen, the conflict that results causes pain and confusion. We feel that something is wrong on a physical level. And, of course, we know what that something is. A loved one is not with us, and we long for that person to be in their accustomed place.
Holidays are hard. And they will be for some time to come. Even after much healing and rebuilding takes place, bittersweet memories will always be with us because we loved and love the person who used to be such a big part of our life. Especially in the early years post-loss, others celebrate and sometimes seem to forget our pain while we dread or try to avoid what we used to enjoy.
Each person is different. Each grief journey is unique. And all of us can do things to ease facing the holiday. Holidays happen all year. With that in mind, I have put together a Holiday Planner with suggestions. I hope it will be useful to you all year long.
Holiday Planner - Click the link to download the .PDF file (it's free). And visit my Resources page to find other materials that can help you with self-care, children who are grieving, and more.
Be patient. Be gentle with yourself. And know you are not alone.
Way for Hope
Losing someone you love is difficult, but it can mean a lot to hear from others traveling similar paths.
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Links of Value:
Alliance of Hope for Suicide Loss Survivors
National Alliance on Mental Illness
Word of God
"My Story" Big Daddy Weave
"Hope in Front of Me"
The Joy FM
Traumatic loss or preexisting conditions can worsen mental health. Use this info graphic to find help.
"Take Charge of Your Mental Health" - a free download from www.nami.org: