Wishing You A Peaceful Holiday

Wishing You A Peaceful Holiday

Wednesday, November 2, 2016

Tips For Surviving The Holidays After Suicide Loss

By Catherine Greenleaf

As suicide loss survivors, we can often dread the holiday season. Christmas music tells us to be jolly, but sometimes our grief is too heavy and we just can’t work up the enthusiasm. However, by giving ourselves permission to take care of ourselves, we can take control and feel self-empowered – regardless of what the relatives may say. Here are some tips to help you along:

Tip #1 – The most important thing you can do this holiday season, or at any time, is to put yourself with safe people who validate your loss.

Tip #2 – Avoid becoming overwhelmed. Don’t feel you have to accept every holiday party invitation you receive. Pick and choose.

Tip #3 – Have a Plan B. If you go to a party and someone upsets you, have a phone number handy of someone you can call for support.

Tip #4 – Be sure to plan quiet time at home alone for yourself during the holidays, so you can enjoy some peace of mind.

Tip #5 – Be a chipper! To make life more manageable, steadily chip away at your holiday gift list. Instead of attempting to buy all your gifts in one trip to the mall, chunk it down into several smaller trips. This will help you avoid the last-minute “rush.”

Tip #6 – Use the internet or mail-order catalogs to shop if driving to busy stores or malls unnerves you.

Tip #7 – Try to make wrapping gifts a pleasant experience. Put on the holiday music, make yourself a cup of cocoa, eat a candy cane, and wrap.

Tip #8 – As with any activity, if you feel overwhelmed, then put everything away for another day.

Tip #9 – The temptation to overindulge will be great. Keep in mind that alcohol is a depressant. Too much sugar can make some people emotional and even weepy. Dark chocolate sweets can keep some people awake all night.

Tip #10 - The average American can gain 5-10 pounds over the course of the holiday season, which can be very depressing. Moderation is key. Eat before you arrive so you won’t nibble all night. Find interesting people to take your mind off food.

Tip #11 – If family relations are contentious, put time limits on how long you will visit. You can craft a high-quality holiday with family by limiting your visit to five hours. After five hours, put on your coat and get out.

Tip #12 - Remember the Holiday Golden Hour – that first hour of any holiday gathering. It’s the safest time to be there. After several hours, drinkers start to get drunk and obnoxious, kids get whiny and cranky, and relatives start making sarcastic remarks. Give yourself permission to leave any situation you find stressful or unsettling.

For more holiday survival tips, you can order the book: Inspirational Stories of Handling The Holidays After Loss at www.opentohope.com.

Copyright 2016

Thursday, October 6, 2016

It's Okay To Cry

by Catherine Greenleaf

Why is the ability to cry so vital to our recovery from the grief of suicide loss?

Crying, lamenting, sobbing and wailing -- all of these allow us to discharge our pain so we can heal. The sadness and despair, when repressed, don't just disappear. Instead, they go underground in your psyche where the pain, unfortunately, intensifies. The feelings are not gone, they are merely buried alive. They then re-emerge at a later time and can cause chronic stress, depression, stomach ulcers, and even a nervous breakdown.

One of the unexpectedly wonderful aspects of crying is that expressing our grief allows us to experience the strength of our aliveness. Our tears let us know we were truly connected to another and that the love we felt was real. Crying releases us from our grief and reaffirms our ability to love and be loved.

You may find some people in your life trying to discourage you from crying. We have all grown up with warnings about not being a "crybaby" or that "real men don't cry." However, crying is the most natural thing in the world for humans to do. Studies show that real healing takes place when we give ourselves permission to cry. I'm sure you've often heard people say they needed a good cry and how much better they felt afterward.

If the people in your life are making you feel uncomfortable about crying, here are a few tips I have tried in order to feel safe shedding tears.

1.  Get in the car. Alone. Take a drive. You can cry all you like in private. You can play music on the radio or your favorite CDs.

2.  Get in the shower. Turn on the hot water. You can cry and no one will hear you under the sound of the water running.

3. Get outside. Take a walk by yourself. Wear sunglasses. You can cry while you walk and no one will be the wiser.

4. Get in the pool. Start swimming. You can cry underwater and no one will figure it out.

If you want to cry, but the tears just won't come, you can try these tearjerker movies to get the waterworks running: 

1) Steel Magnolias 

2) Terms of Endearment

3) Brian's Song

4) The Bridges of Madison County

5) Always

6) Sophie's Choice

7) Charlotte's Web

8) Babe

9) Casablanca

10) An Officer and a Gentleman

Copyright 2014