When the Holidays bring Grief and Sadness

This is the last installment of my month of stories of the Holidays.

We must remember that Christmas is not a happy time for all people but can bring about feelings of grief, sadness, and depression. the nearly two years have been difficult for a lot of people in more ways than one.

My friend, Dar Myers, tells her stories of grief and how best to deal with it, not only during this time of year but all year long.

 Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God. For just as we share abundantly in the sufferings of Christ, so also our comfort abounds through Christ. If we are distressed, it is for your comfort and salvation; if we are comforted, it is for your comfort, which produces in you patient endurance of the same sufferings we suffer. And our hope for you is firm, because we know that just as you share in our sufferings, so also you share in our comfort. 

2 Corinthians 1:3-7 KJV

COVID-19. Delta variant. Omicron variant. Country lockdown. Mandates. Loss of loved ones. Unrest and dissension in our Country. Authority in question. Law enforcement officers were ambushed and killed. Claims of bias and profiling. Rogue police officers. Demand for defunding of police. Stress. Chaos. Unanswered questions. Uncertainty of future.

Grief and Sadness

All the above can bring sadness and grief to many individuals. Today’s society has various opinions on how to manage sadness and grief and is not afraid to offer their advice. Entering the holiday season, society’s advice adds pressure to individuals to suppress grief and sadness.

This advice of they’re in a better place, it’ll pass, it gets better with time, or it’s been a year, it’s time to move on, is meant out of love. But most times, it causes more anguish.

The LORD is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.

Psalm 34:18 KJV

My World Stopped

On September 24, 2015, my world changed in a matter of five-and-a-half hours. My cell phone rang at 9:00 am; my sister, Robin, was on the line. A call from her this early was a bad omen.

Shocked, all I heard was “Jimmy, my brother, an Okaloosa County Sheriff Deputy, was shot while serving a domestic violence injunction at an attorney’s office.” Robin said they transported him to a hospital, but she had no further information.

I headed for Shalimar, Florida, the community he lived and served.

Once I got to Tallahassee, Robin called again, explaining Jimmy had died at 2:30 pm. He was shot three times, twice in the back and once in the back of the head. I headed back to Jacksonville, Florida, to await arrangements.

My world stopped.

Over the next nine months, I felt the bullets that riddled Jimmy were catalysts as flint to fire. Unable to attend the funeral due to poor health, the televised funeral allowed my mom to watch. In December 2015, she died of a broken heart; the official cause of death was a heart attack.

In June 2016, a friend of eighteen years died of a sudden heart attack and two weeks later, a fire engine driving down Mayport Road in Mayport, Florida, found my daughter’s father dead in a creek. An autopsy ruled the cause of death as a heart attack.

I was reeling, had no sense of control, and was numb. There was a sense of detachment so I could function for the sake of my daughter, who was in denial.

Memories flooded my conscious and subconscious minds. Most predominant was the sound of Taps, 16-gun salute, and Last Call. I quake, fill with sadness, and find myself shutting down to this day whenever I hear these.

Stifled Grief

Society today has what they call “Stifled Grief,” meaning we don’t speak about it. We put it in the past and try to get over it quickly so we can move on.

Most people assume grief and sadness have a solvable solution.

The new Model of Grief contends to find a middle ground, one where we can directly face the grief. By directly facing the grief, allowing the reality of grief to exist, we can focus on helping ourselves, and others, survive within or inside the pain.

Self-compassion is approaching ourselves, our inner experience with spaciousness, with the quality of allowing which has a quality of gentleness. Instead of our usual tendency to want to get over something, to fit it, to make it go away, the path of compassion is totally different. Compassion allows.

Robert Gonzalez, Reflections on Living Compassion

In David Kessler’s Finding Meaning: The Sixth Stage of Grief (2019), the six stages of grief include denial, anger, bargaining, depression, acceptance, and meaning. Finding meaning has the following components to assist in the processing:

  • It’s relative and personal
  • It takes time
  • It does not require understanding why a loved one died, or loss occurred
  • When you find out, it may not be worth what it cost you

Kessler indicated loss happens to you; meaning is what you make happen.

Love Does Not End with Death

Unknown

Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.

Matthew 5:4

Holidays and special occasions intensify feelings of loss, sadness, and personal. There are no guaranteed simple guidelines to take away the hurt. However, below are suggestions that may help.

  1. Talk about your grief. Ignoring the grief will not make it go away while talking about it often makes you feel better.
  2. Recognize your physical and psychological limits. Low energy and fatigue are residual effects. Respect and honor what messages your body is relaying to you.
  3. Avoid unnecessary stress. Do not overextend or isolate yourself. Make special time for yourself. Acknowledge “keeping busy” does not distract, but increases stress.
  4. Be with supporting, comforting people.
  5. Do what is right for you during the holidays. Focus on what you want to do, not what other want or expect you to do.
  6. Embrace your treasured memories. After the death of a loved one, memories are the best legacies that exist. Treasure them, don’t ignore them. Feel your feelings.

“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”

Matthew 11:28-30

Resources

Kessler, David. (2019). Finding Meaning: The Sixth Stage of Grief. ISBN13: 9781501192746

Living Observance Blog. (January 1, 2021). The New Model of Grief.

 www.livingobservance.com

The Holy Bible. (2011), Zondervan: Grand Rapids, MI.

Wolfelt,  PhD., A.D. (N.D.) Helping yourself heal during the holiday season. Concerns of Police

Survivors.


Thank you so much for taking the time to read all the stories from my friends this month. I hope you enjoyed them and learned from them as I have done. May the Lord bless you in this coming New Year!

~Stephanie

One thought on “When the Holidays bring Grief and Sadness

  1. JD Wininger

    Thank you for sharing Ms. Dar’s post with us. Grief is something we all deal with at one time or another. The best we can do sometimes is to simply be there to help our friends through the process. God’s blessings ladies.

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