Archive for December, 2010

Holiday Grief Relief

Blessings and Peace to my readers this Christmas season.

Marsha Barnosky LMSW, owner of Grief and Loss Coaching, joins us today with her wise advice on easing grief:

“Anticipating the holidays after the death of a loved one is something that may fill you with dread. Should you do what you’ve always done? Will altering traditions make things easier?

There is no “one size fits all” answer. The most important thing to remember, is to anticipate these difficult days and make a plan that works for you. Some people prefer to be alone; others find comfort in being with family and friends. If you’re uncertain what you want to do, let the hosts know that you may not know what you want until the day arrives. If you attend, leave if you need to.

It is possible to find ways to celebrate by making some adjustments in expectations. There is no rule that says you must send out 100 handwritten cards every year! Make a list of all the jobs on your holiday to-do list. Then for each item ask: Do I have to? Do I want to? Who can help? Turn to others who want to help. Helping others who are grieving by letting them help you, benefits you both.

Remembering your loved one in some meaningful way during the season may bring comfort. Here are a few suggestions: light a candle in front of the loved one’s picture before dinner, leave “their” chair empty at the table or re-tell cherished memories. There may be other ideas that you prefer; however, do not force yourself to do anything that doesn’t feel right.

Now, more than ever, take special care to eat, exercise and rest to avoid illness. Seek the support of those who will listen. Find at least one thing, however small, that you can be grateful for each day. Stay true to your spiritual practices; your grieving soul needs healing as well. Above all, be kind to yourself.”

Reprinted from Be Healthy magazine, Muskegon, MI., December 2009.

In January, Marsha is offering a free, 6 hour virtual retreat for 5 widows past the first year of bereavement, ages 25-55, in a conference calling format. If you are interested, contact her at info@marshabarnosky.com for more information.


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I dreaded the first Christmas after Bill died. So I asked each of my grown children to write down a memory of a non-monetary gift given them by their dad. After we finished dinner, we read our notes out loud as dessert.

Everyone participated and a few stood out:

From Rob, Jen’s fiance’,

Thank you for giving me the gift of your daughter. I’m sad we never got to meet.”

From daughter, Jen,

“Last Christmas, the note dad sent me in the chicken scrawl of his increasing paralysis: ‘You’re still the apple of my eye.’ It’s the most touching and meaningful thing he left behind for me. I keep it in my billfold.”

From daughter-in-law, Wendy,

“Dad gave me the gift of acceptance. He talked to me and always valued my input and made me feel like I was a part of his family.”

And from eight-year-old granddaughter, Cassidy,

“I loved how granpa laught. He loved are jokes evan when they were not funny. His eyes got bright when he laught. His eyebrows would go up. And when we got hurt, he would always care. He had my dad and my dad had me. If he didn’t let my dad be born, I woldn’t be born.”

Learning from one another. Seeing our loved one through each other’s eyes, creating a whole. Sharing moments of Bill once again pointing  to Christ and His Love, as he had so often done during his last months on earth.

Christmas…the season of hope and promise through the birth of Jesus. 

It was a good day after all.

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I stared out my bedroom  window. Looked past the stars twinkling above barren trees. Bill seems so far away. “What’s it like for him in Heaven?  What does he do there? What is he doing right now?” It’s not the first time I’ve tried to imagine this.

Once again, as in the early days of my loss, it seems impossible for him to be gone and not “somewhere” in this world. Why do I  feel this way now…so many years later?

At least I’m past the images of Bill as he lay paralyzed during his last days on earth. 

So I ponder.

What is it about the holidays that brings me back?  Holds me fast in the grip of yesteryear? Why does the Christmas season bring about a feeling of deja-vu?

I have no answers. Only questions. They cause me to cling to the One who does have the answers. And somehow, Bill doesn’t seem quite so far away.

Do you have more questions than answers? What are they? I invite you to share them here.

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