Hey all, this is Courtney.

If you haven’t met me yet, I have been one of the massage therapists at Moment of Truth for the last 4+ years. I didn’t really want to talk about this topic, because I am definitely no expert, but unfortunately have been getting very acquainted with Grief lately and felt like it was good to talk about since we are in the holiday season and so much stuff gets stirred up at this time and if you don’t feel excited about the holidays – it’s perfectly ok and you are not alone!

I have been learning a lot about Grief, especially in the last few years how all of our lives changed and how Grief is more than I thought it was, way more. How we can actually grieve over things, and people who aren’t even dead, and how you can also grieve before someone dies, but also how it changes after they die as well. How Grief is going to look and feel different for every single person, which is probably why it is so confusing. And we can be so quick to label if someone is depressed or not, if someone appears “stuck” in their Grief and maybe it can make some fearful to really express how much it hurts sometimes out of fear of not being understood. Or that sometimes you may actually feel ok for a little while, but then BAM a memory, smell, a laugh, or just seeing someone who reminds you of that person or thing (like that man sitting in the front row of my son’s choir concert the other day that looked JUST like my dad), and you are a puddle of tears again.

Some tips for this season:

  • Whether you lost someone/something recently or years ago, know that it is ok if you don’t feel cheery right now. And it is even ok if you don’t feel like celebrating – and know that you actually DON’T have to if you don’t want to. Any of it! Sit down and think about what feels right for you this year. I know it can feel wrong to not celebrate, but it really can look like whatever you want, and you can change it the next year – if you want. I struggled with guilt this year with who to invite to Thanksgiving – my dad recently passed in August AND during his time in Hospice care I was also very sick and diagnosed with Celiac and so this was going to be my first holiday without my dad and my first holiday after learning about having Celiac which has been very overwhelming, so this time I decided to keep the people I had over to a small group – because this is what I could handle. I still had to breathe on being ok with it and not feeling guilty over who I didn’t end up inviting – but I did it. My husband even made a comment on how chill I actually was while we got the house ready – that was worth it in itself! A few years ago we also decided to only do Christmas Day with our little family, and we schedule family time with others on different days during Winter Break. Sometimes that feels wrong, too, to me, because I think it was so ingrained to me that we HAD to do things a certain way…but that way was causing SO much stress and still didn’t feel like the Christmas we were picturing. It can feel wrong to go against the grain, but something has to freaking give when we have not fully been examining what is actually hurting us in the end if we are allowing our body to go through so much stress just to make others happy. I don’t think that is what the holidays are about. I know it can be so hard though.
  • Share with a loved one how you are feeling, or write down/journal about what you are feeling, even if it doesn’t make sense. If you are frustrated, even scribbling is fine, too. Anger may be something that comes up as well, sometimes this can be hidden sadness, I have had my fair share of screaming in the car or a pillow, or hitting a pillow against the bed. Shaking/bouncing your body is also a great way to move those intense feelings out of your body, turn on some music. If tears come, let them come.
  • Find ways to include your loved one by making their favorite dish/cookies, set a place at the table for them, have their picture displayed somewhere, singing their favorite songs, watch one of their favorite holiday movies, or go look at Christmas lights if that is what they loved. I wanted to make sure my mama didn’t have to worry about cooking any dishes for Thanksgiving so I asked if she would bring the pies, and asked if she wanted to, to bring a pecan pie and Cool Whip – my dad’s favorite. But if nothing feels right, you don’t have to do any of those things.
  • Kiddos also go through their own way of grieving as well. For my kiddos, they were more tired/had angry meltdowns much easier for a while, but when talking about Papa, they didn’t really seem to be “feeling” much about it and would ask me not to talk about it, but after a while I started to notice it and decided to start showing them ways to still feel their anger but in a safe way for them. One thing that works well for my kids is to let them push into my hands as hard as they can – and I push against them, too. This has been a great way for them to let them move that anger/energy out and they usually will end with tears flowing or their anger dissipates into laughter because they love the challenge of seeing if they can be stronger than mom! I have also been showing them how to scream things they need to say into a pillow, and hitting the bed with hands or pillows. I also let them know it is ok if they see mom crying about Papa (or Z our dog we had to say goodbye to over a year ago), they get so worried seeing me cry and are quick to try to hug me to cheer me up but I want them to see that crying and being angry and all these feelings are actually ok! (Obviously hugs still help though.)
  • I also wanted to leave you with an exercise that has helped me a lot over the years, called Emotional Freedom Technique or Tapping. Feel free to change the wording to what emotions and affirmations fit best for what you are feeling. I have had tears come up and that is very much ok if that happens to you, just breathe slowly and let the tears flow. https://youtu.be/8e88-PVIGN4?feature=shared

Sending love.

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