The Holiday Letter

Posted on Dec 20, 2017 in General Grief, Holidays

The other side of the coin: Talkinggrief.com recently posted What’sYourGrief.com’s article about writing a holiday card to someone who is grieving. Today we approach the dilemma from the griever’s point of view.

Carolyn Parr offers a simple outline and a very good reason why we should write others when we are struggling: “Your own truth-telling may free others to face their own situation with courage.”

Grief taught me to write the perfect holiday letter

Carolyn Miller Parr

In October of 2015 the man who had been my husband for fifty-six years died. December found me still numb with grief. As my children and I struggled to navigate the season without a compass, we were feeling a lot of things. Joy wasn’t one of them. If it was there, it was buried under a thick layer of pain.

It was time to write the annual holiday letter Jerry and I had always written together, but I felt lost. Should I just skip it and leave friends wondering whether they’d been abandoned? Should I spill tears all over the page? Should I put on a happy face to hide the pain?

Read More

Holiday blues: Four Mistakes We Make

Posted on Dec 17, 2017 in General Grief, Holidays

Sheryl Sandberg and Adam Grant, Opinion contributors –  Dec. 1, 2017

Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg says she hopes her new book on grief will teach readers how to help others after a tragedy. USA TODAY

If you have a loved one who’s suffering, “Happy holidays!” can feel like a cruel joke. The most wonderful time of the year? Not for everyone.

We’ve all been there: Someone we know is suffering, and we’re not sure what to do. In Hilary Weisfeld’s case, her daughter’s teacher had a 4-year-old girl with leukemia who was admitted to the hospital. They weren’t close friends; Hilary had never met the little girl.

Hilary went to a toy store, bought a stuffed animal, and sent an email: “I’m coming to the hospital with a package for your daughter. I don’t want to invade your privacy or hers. If you don’t feel like coming down I’ll leave it at the front desk. No pressure.” The teacher replied immediately, inviting her up. As the girl unwrapped her new toy, the teacher thanked Hilary with tears in her eyes.

Although we all want to support others through hardship, knowing how to do that isn’t always intuitive. Every bookstore has a self-help section — but sometimes what we really need is a “help others” section.

The holidays are supposed to be a time of celebration — but if you’re dealing with illness, divorce, incarceration or grief, that festive spirit can feel like salt being poured on a wound. Holidays can make you painfully aware of the love, liberty or life you’ve lost.

If you have a loved one who’s suffering, phrases you’ve used a thousand times without a second thought —“Happy holidays! Season’s greetings!” — can feel like a cruel joke. The most wonderful time of the year? Not for everyone.

Many people are afraid to acknowledge others’ pain: They don’t want to bring it up. Only after Sheryl’s husband Dave died suddenly did we realize how ridiculous that is. You can’t remind her Dave is gone. She’s aware of that every day.

The elephant is always there. The best thing you can do is speak up instead of saying silent. But knowing what to say can be as hard as finding the courage to say something. For most of our lives, we’ve made four big mistakes.

Read More

Should I Send A Holiday Card?

Posted on Dec 10, 2017 in General Grief, Holidays

So you are one of those wonderful people who still sends snail mail holiday greetings. Your cards and list are in front of you, your pen is in hand, and stamps are at your side. Everything is going swimmingly until you come upon a person/couple on your list who has had a loved one die during the past year. Should you send them a card, you wonder?

Good question, and one I have never addressed on TalkingGrief.com. 

Read More

Our Holiday Series

Posted on Dec 3, 2017 in Holidays

Again, we are running our holidays series for readers who are newly bereaved. Our hearts are with those of you, as well as those who still struggle to get through the season without a significant loved one.

Holidays (in no particular order):


If you liked this post, please forward! Thanks!

Vicki Panagotacos PhD, FT is a grief counselor and life transition coach.  She writes for her blog, TalkingGrief.com, is founder of BestGriefBooks.com, and author of Gaining Traction: Starting Over After the Death of a Life Partner.
Subscribe to Blog
Read More

10 Seconds of Silence

Posted on Jan 16, 2016 in Holidays, Uncategorized

It is January 2016.

Yes.

Another year begins.

Yes.

The world didn’t end on Jan 1, 2000 as many predicted.

No.

That was 15 years ago and we now face a level of real risk few would ever have anticipated on Jan 1, 2000. Today our world is more complicated, the problems more convoluted. 

So how does one feel good about the new year? I suggest you click on the 1997 video below and hear Fred Rogers ask for 10 seconds of silence to honor those who loved you into being.

If you remember Fred Rogers, the people you honor have likely died. They may not have been your parents. But for most of us there was a person, maybe even a neighbor, who loved us into a being capable of acting on behalf of the greater good this coming year.

YouTube Video Link:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Upm9LnuCBUM

 

Read More

No “White Christmas”

Posted on Dec 12, 2015 in General Grief, Holidays

Bing Crosby

There is a beginning, middle and an end to every day. And that includes Christmas.

Christmas day is one of those days of the year when many of us don’t care what we do as long as we are not alone. The day has that much power. Whether we are religious or secular “Joy to the World” is the theme of the season. And we often feel we have failed others or ourselves if we don’t feel the joy.

That said the consumer market does nothing to help keep our expectations in check.

Christmas commercials of happy actors with beautiful faces and bodies, beautiful white teeth and beautiful smiles run through dry white snow, shop, gaze into each others’ eyes – or sit around a white clothed table overflowing with food… and they are happy!

But let’s be realistic. These people are acting to sell you something!

Reality: the not uncommon grin-and-bear-it holiday

Yes, some families share a pleasant holiday year after year after year. And they are blessed.

Then there are those who pile together year after year after year for a “grin-and-bear” Christmas. By this I mean they gather and pretend there is no other place they would rather be—while counting the hours until they can hug and say goodbye.

A client of mine recently emailed me to say that “the person who dreamed up ‘this is the most wonderful time of the year’ should be punched!”

Bottom line I beg you to consider that I am being honest rather than cynical. Things can go right and things can go wrong, and in certain families holidays are consistently tedious.

Read More
Page 1 of 212