Knowing, Loving, Serving…
So the World Will Know Christ’s Love

Coping with and through Holiday Grief

Dear Friends,

Our collective grief and loss of 2020 is real. Since March, we’ve both limited and eliminated our family and faith community gatherings. We’ve lost loved ones and neighbors; we’ve coped with ongoing uncertainty, isolation, loneliness, sadness, depression, anxiety, ennui, frustration, and listlessness. As a nation, we’ve faced cultural, political, economic, and health crises. As individuals, we’ve wrestled with urgency and pressure, stress and overload.

No matter your COVID situation—no matter the depth or breadth of the impact the pandemic has had on you, this Holiday season will be different – most likely more lonely and challenging than any you’ve experienced before. Below are some resources to help you through the next few weeks. I invite you to honor your feelings and needs this holiday season, and I remind you that you are not alone. God is with you. Pastor Reggie and I are only a phone call away.  Never hesitate to call upon us.

Holiday Coping Tools:

  1. ABCs: A-Acknowledge Our Feelings, B-Be patient, and C-Choose calm. Acknowledge how the challenges of 2020 have impacted you/your holiday season. Be patient with yourself and others. When you feel anxious, angry, and frustration, take six slow deep breaths.
  2. One-minute Journaling: Make a list of the most difficult aspects of this past year. Then, make a list of any and all times when you felt the presence of God.
  3. The Three Rs: Rest, Reflect, and Reconnect. Remember that self-care is a win-win for everyone. When you embrace time to address your own needs, you have more energy to help others with their needs. Practice these 3 Rs. Rest: Unplug and breathe. Reflect: Recognize thoughts and feelings. Consider perspective. Reconnect: How can I care for myself, loved ones, and community right now?

Holiday Reflection and Discussion Questions for Individuals, Families, and/or Friends dealing with grief:

  1. What are your happiest holiday memories of your loved ones? Feel free to remember silently, journal, write them below, or sharing the memory aloud with others.
  2. What holiday traditions did you share with your loved one? What will you miss most about those traditions, if anything? Be sure to name any pain, sadness, despair, and even frustration that the holidays may trigger with this significant loss.
  3. What do you need this holiday season? Consider various categories of need: physical, emotional, spiritual, communal, familial, or others. Reflect silently, journal, write below, or share your needs with other.
  4. How might you honor your needs? From the practical to abstract, you are invited to consider creative ways to honor what you need while remaining safe in the pandemic.
  5. What do you anticipate will be most difficult about this holiday season? Name any sadness, anxiety, or fears here. If you have none, consider how this holiday season might trigger difficult season for others connect to your deceased loved one.
  6. What traditions and rituals would you like to keep this year? What traditions and rituals do you feel you may need to opt-out of this year?
  7. Are there any new virtual traditions and rituals you’d like to add?
  8. Name your intention (purpose) for this holiday season. It can be simple, like “just make it through,” or more complex “ensure that I spend time doing things that are of comfort to me.”

Grief is with us each year, but in 2020, it’s on our doorstep. Continue to pay attention to your feelings and needs all throughout the season, as they may shift day to day, hour to hour. Remember: None of us have ever experienced a pandemic holiday season. Check in with family and friends, practice the best self-care you can, set clear expectations with others, and be gentle with EVERYONE.

I am reading a newly released book on grief called Dessert First: Preparing for Death While Savoring Life. I welcome you to read it as well. I’d love to discuss it with you!

Peace be with you,
Pastor Julie