Grief During the Holidays

Every day without you since you had to go,
is like a summer without sunshine

and Christmas without snow.

I wish that I could talk to you,

there’s so much I would say.
Life has changed so very much

since you went away.

I miss the bond between us

and I miss your kind support.
You’re in my mind and in my heart

and every Christmas thought.

I’ll always feel you close to me

and though you’re far from sight,
I’ll search for you among the stars

that shine on Christmas night.

Author Unknown

Loss of a loved one is particularly painful during the holidays.  Whether the loss is recent, or many years in the past, there’s something about Christmastime that makes grief feel more poignant.

Maybe your family traditions will change, or maybe it’s the thought of putting on a cheerful face at holiday parties, attending solo, when once you were part of a couple.  Or maybe it’s finding recycled gift tags or old Christmas cards that include names of spouses, parents, or even children who are no longer with us. 

Holidays can be hard – it’s important to remember that if you aren’t looking forward to the season, you’re not alone.   Sadness, depression, and feelings of being overwhelmed are all perfectly normal, especially if you’re missing a loved one.

Here are some ways to take care of yourself this season:

Let Go of Expectations

Expecting your holiday to be the same as in past years, when your family has changed, is a recipe for disappointment. Try to keep an open mind and understand that emotions will be high this year for everyone. 

Give Yourself Permission to Sit It Out

Don’t force yourself to attend every holiday activity if you don’t feel up to it.  It’s okay to skip the cookie exchange party this year.  While it’s important to not isolate yourself when you’re feeling sad, it’s equally important to select social events that are most meaningful to you.  Let your friends and families know what you need this year.

Make New Connections

Even when you’re not up to your usual holiday activities, human connection matters. Volunteering, visiting seniors in a local home, and doing things for others – even strangers, can be a big help during times of sadness and grief. Something as simple as enjoying the morning paper at your local coffee shop, and buying a cup for a stranger, can boost your mood, and others’ as well.

Change It Up

Participating in holiday traditions without a loved one is hard.  Maybe it’s time to change it up.  Does your tradition include a Christmas movie at the theater?  This year, ask the family to go for a walk to look at lights, instead.  Do you usually ring in the new year at a friend’s  house?  Maybe this is the year to spend a few days with an out-of-town relative or friend, instead.

Give Yourself Grace

Remember that there is no right or wrong way to experience loneliness or sadness.  Acknowledge how you feel – it’s okay, and you don’t need to apologize.  Understanding that your emotions are normal, and are also temporary, is an important step toward healing. 

Your loved one is gone – but you’re still here.  And whether it’s your biological family, friends, church family, co-workers or neighbors – you are important.  You matter to those around you, and you matter to God.

Merry Christmas, and God Bless.

The Greatest Gift

A 2017 survey by the National Funeral Director’s Association shows that nearly two thirds of Americans think that pre-planning, or at least sharing their final wishes with their families is important.  But in reality, fewer than 20 percent of Americans pre-plan or even discuss their wishes.

Making decisions about end-of-life preparations are easiest when planning for a distant future, rather than a last-minute scramble.  And there’s no greater gift that you can give to your children than to let your wishes be known and pre-plan your final disposition, so during a time of grief, your children won’t need to make difficult decisions.

There’s an easy way to pre-plan.  A Pre-Need Contract can be as simple as stating your desire to be cremated, or as complicated as selecting a casket and making a complete funeral plan.   Your local funeral home can help. 

HERE ARE SOME COMMON MISCONCEPTIONS ABOUT PRE-PLANNING:

*It’s too expensive

It’s not necessary to pay up front.  Many funeral homes have payment programs, and sharing your plans with your local funeral director assures that your wishes will be followed in detail.

*If I pay, and the funeral home goes out of business, my money disappears.

Pre-need contract monies are sent to a third party, and remain in a holding account until the funds are needed, regardless if the initiating funeral home is in business or not. Additionally, the pre-need contract can be utilized in every state, regardless of state of residence, and even in many places outside of the United States.

*I don’t want to think about it.

No one likes to think about ending their time on this Earth. However, as hard as it may be for you, it will likely be even more difficult for your children if the unexpected should occur.

Contact Sierra Foothills, and provide the most precious of gifts for your loved ones.

Language of Flowers

When it comes to putting your loved one to rest, flowers may seem like a small detail. But for some, selecting the just-right plant or flower arrangement can be meaningful, and an important way to express your feelings. Your favorite florist can help you with flower types, colors and their meanings. With a little research, you can choose an arrangement that will convey your sentiments perfectly. Of course, if your loved one has a favorite flower, or flower color, be bold – it’s okay to ‘break the rules’.

A standing spray is the most-often associated arrangement for funerals. Additionally, standing wreaths, hearts and crosses are appropriate. Sprays are typically placed near the casket, and multiple standing sprays make a lovely statement.

A casket spray is another common arrangement. A spray might be contained to the top of the casket, adding richness and decoration, or even drape over the sides. A lovely spray looks beautiful on caskets of any price point.

What Are You Saying with Flowers?

Gladioli – The ‘glad’ conveys character, integrity and sincerity.

Lily -Probably one of the most popular flowers for funeral arrangements, the lily represents restored innocence.

Rose – The beloved rose conveys different meanings depending upon the color. Red (of course) depicts love, while yellow roses signify friendship. White roses signify innocence, reverence and youth, while pink roses are love and grace.

Carnation – Carnations are one of the most affordable flowers, and are making a huge come back in pop culture. The pink carnation signifies remembrance, the white, love and innocence, and red, admiration.

Orchid – Orchids are typically given to family members of loved ones, as a living plant. The orchid, most often white or pink, is a symbol of the giver’s sympathy.

Daffodils and Tulips – Daffodils and tulips are typically sent to families of the departed, as a symbol of renewal, sympathy, and even cheerfulness to lift one’s spirits.

Daisy – The simple daisy represents loyal love and purity.

Hyacinth – The hyacinth, particularly the purple flower, is a symbol of sorrow and regret.

What are Cremains?

Cremains are exactly what they sound like – what remains after cremating a body. It’s a common misunderstanding that your loved ones’ remains are ‘ashes’. Typically, cremains are grainy in texture, much like sand that has bits of quartz rock in it.

Many people think that cremains require an urn for storage. However, family members may place a loved ones’ cremains in many types of containers, and don’t have to purchase a container through the funeral home. If you choose this option, you will want to discuss with your funeral director what size receptacle you will need to bring, and the director should be able to transfer your loved ones’ cremains into your container for you.

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