Grief is a type of experience where no two people may respond the same way. This complicated and notably painful experience can be even more challenging during the holidays. As we come together to celebrate the Thanksgiving, it can be helpful to rely on some tools to protect and experience our grief while enjoying the holiday. David Kessler is one of the world’s foremost experts on healing and loss. Here are three important tools he discussed to help you deal with the holidays.
First of all, let go off expectations! It doesn’t matter if this is your first year without your loved one or your tenth year; every year can and may feel different. Therefore, allow yourself to let go of how it should be and be present in what it is. Kessler reminds us that releasing the expectation can release the pressure.
The second tool is that your grief is nobody else’s business! We tend to worry about what others think not only during the holidays but also throughout the year. It will be making things more difficult on us if we worry about what others think about the way we grief. Kessler reminds us that our focus needs to be on honoring the loss. That means letting go of what people think and focus on doing what you need to do to feel your grief. For example, you might want to visit the cemetery before heading out to a Thanksgiving dinner. It is OK to take the time to connect with your grief and your loved one.
Last tool to consider is to give thanks for the loved one. This might be the most challenging. It may be hard for us to find gratitude in the midst of our pain. Kessler reminds us that the goal isn’t to feel gratitude instead of the pain but in addition to it. When you remember a memory or something you love about the one you lost; you give thanks by saying, “I am grateful we went to that trip” or “I am grateful for his humor.” Kessler says, “What you water is what you grow.” How will you give thanks to feel your grief and gratitude?