QUESTION: My mom died last year, around
this time, and even though my husband and kids have been very supportive,
I'm really dreading the holidays. Do you have any suggestions to help
me get through them without falling apart?
ANSWER: Mourning is natural during this time, which is
the anniversary of your mother's passing. Your grief carries the seeds
of transformation. What your mother was to you, can now become a part
of you. And the fact that you grieve her loss means she was a woman
of great value to the person that you are today. Mourning her can
help you transform her memory into a daily piece of your soul. And
with this process, your memory of your mother will eventually become
"lighter," but no less endearing.
Mothers are the initial link to life. And their passing
can bring up feelings of rootlessness and vast emptiness. Particularly
during the Christmas holiday because it is a time of family focus,
childhood memories and appreciation for those we love.
Light a candle for your mother on Christmas eve. Perhaps
each family member can share a story about her life and how she touched
each one of you. Give her spirit a rightful place in your family's
ongoing history. But do not stop there! Embrace and celebrate her
grandchildren who carry a part of her forward into the generations
to come. And continue the family traditions that will represent your
great grandchildren's inheritance.
If you feel a greater need to mourn your mother and
do not want to eclipse your family celebration with too much sorrow,
consider an additional separate ritual (sharing) with your siblings,
or aunts and uncles who may have been your mother's peers. Take time
to talk with them by phone, schedule a dinner with a sibling or aunt
who can share your memories and digest the passage of life and time
Consider reaching out to other friends or relatives
who lost a parent and ask them how they handled the initial holidays
after their loss. Write a letter or poem to your mother. Or honor
her memory privately in some way that feels genuine to you. By making
a place for your feelings rather than trying to avoid them, you may
find that you can bring more of your energy to your family when it
is their time to share their love, joy and gifts with you.
Allow the glimpses of joy and true celebration for
life to arise spontaneously through your sorrow. It is unlikely that
you will find yourself "falling apart" if you make room to express
-- rather than repress -- your feelings of sadness. Take care to provide
yourself appropriate opportunity to release grief and share your mother's
passing. Accepting the emptiness is the first step in freeing you
This holiday season is a transitional one for you.
Remember, too, that while you have lost a mother, your children have
lost a grandmother. The baton is being passed. You will probably be
a grandmother yourself someday! Do not resist the flow of change.
Invite the tides of time to pass through you this holiday season.
Your rootlessness will inevitably yield to deeper grounding and an
establishment of yourself as the "next" generation.
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