Loneliness in the holidays

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With this week being Thanksgiving, I thought it would be appropriate to share some tips in dealing with the holidays while walking through grief. Facing every-day life without your loved one is difficult. Facing the holidays without your loved one can seem overwhelming. Loneliness and holidays tend to go hand-in-hand, especially during the early years of loss.

If you are facing your first holiday season on your own, it can help you to remember several things I have found to be true. The first is to know that anticipation is usually worse than realization. Anticipating the holiday may stir up extra feelings of loss, apprehension, and loneliness. You may find yourself dreading the holiday. Fear can be a very real emotion as you wonder how that particular day will feel and what you will do to fill the hours until you can go to bed and wake up in a new day.

Perhaps you have been invited to spend the day with friends. You want to go, but you may be unsure how to excuse yourself in the case that you need some time alone to process your feelings. Remember that your friends care about you and desire the best for you. While they may not completely understand your loss, they want to see you smile and be happy. Do yourself a favor and be honest with yourself and with them. If you feel like crying – then cry. If you feel like laughing – do so with gusto and without guilt. Your loved one would want you to experience joy again. If you find yourself needing time alone – simply state that fact and retreat to a quiet room for a while. Pretending your loneliness does not exist will only keep you from healing.

Loneliness in the holidays is not necessarily a bad thing. It is something you need to experience in order to grow and take a step forward toward healing. Be courageous, take a deep breath, and give yourself grace as you learn to maneuver through Thanksgiving Day. In doing so, you will find yourself better equipped to look toward the other upcoming holidays. Allow yourself to feel and fully experience those emotions that will roll over you this week. As you do, picture your loved one cheering you on and being proud of you for facing what may be a hard day.

Until next time –

Karen

Grief Letters is available for you to purchase. With the holidays just around the corner, this may be just the gift your friends and family need to help them. Having hope and purpose is not impossible when facing loss and pain. This devotion book is filled with lessons learned from my own journey as well as suggested activities written to help achieve forward progress through grief. Place your order today!

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Grief Letters By Karen Bransgrove, Published by WestBow Press. You can order here.

Hardcover | 6 x 9 in | 114 pages | ISBN 9781490869674

Softcover | 6 x 9 in | 114 pages | ISBN 9781490869667

E-Book | 114 pages | ISBN 9781490869650

Also available at Amazon and Barnes and Noble.

Every Man for Himself

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Last night I had the pleasure of attending the Barry Manilow concert in downtown Denver. This was a special night I had planned for months with friends of mine. As time approached I decided that I would take the light rail from my suburban home into Denver. Having done this quite often, I had no reservations about the plan. However, little did I know that the night would end up with me fighting the mentality of every man for himself.

The problem occurred after the fantastic evening at the Denver Convention Center where my friends and I greatly enjoyed the music and show. Thank you Barry! The walk to and wait for the train was not beyond what was expected. However, clues of difficulties could be seen as we jammed on a short train and crept along at a snail’s pace instead of the usual zipping from station to station. Apparently there was maintenance being done on the track down south that was slowing our progress. The four of us successfully made it to the transfer station and after a rather long wait I was first to bid my three friends good-bye as I hopped onto the D Line train.

Little did I know that my innocent choice would lead to several hours of being stranded and experiencing the every man for himself attitude of this world. We only managed to crawl slowly one stop south when apparently we lost power. This resulted in the air halting, the lights growing rather dim and completely going out at times, and most disturbingly our train being stuck. We sat for a while and then the conductor came on saying the train was out of commission and we were basically on our own. They were going to look into getting busses to pick us up but no timeline could be established. We could sit on the train or unload and figure it out on our own. They finally managed to get a couple of emergency doors open and we all began to pour out into the night, badly needing fresh air.

This is when the learning really began. There was no plan and no cooperation between passengers to figure things out. Thinking back on it this morning, I can compare the experience to journeying through grief.

As you find yourself disconnection and alone in a sudden unfamiliar life-path, you often have to figure out how to move forward outside of your well-laid-out plan. One moment you have your destination in sight and you are excited for what the future holds. The next, you are standing feeling very alone in a crowd of strangers with no one understanding quite what to do or in what direction to walk.

While the conductor on the light rail failed to give clear instructions last night, that is actually a great picture of what it is like to live facing death and loneliness. No one can really determine your path except for you. Hopefully you will be able to connect through support groups to find others in similar situations to help you learn to navigate your grief journey. However, in order to do so, you often need to be brave enough to reach out and admit your need for help and direction.

Last night, I swallowed my pride and usual sense of independence and called me son, who gladly came and picked me up even though it was close to midnight by that time. He later commented that he did not want me standing in the dark or riding a bus trying to figure out how to get to my car by myself.

That is how the grief journey is, my friends. There are people around more than willing to help. However, they often do not realize that you need assistance nor do they know how to come to your aid. They fear doing the wrong thing, so they fail to do anything at all. Put your pride aside, be courageous, and ask for help. Admit first to yourself that you do not know how to get to your destination and then be open to someone who God places in your life. These people can take your hand and cheer you on as you figure out how to move forward on your journey of grief.

Keep moving! Refuse to cave in to the every man for himself mentality of today. Instead open up and receive the blessing of others and the relationships they can offer you as you formulate and figure out your next step in moving forward.

Until next time –

Karen

Grief Letters is available for you to purchase. Having hope and purpose is not impossible when facing loss and pain. This devotion book is filled with lessons learned from my own journey as well as suggested activities written to help achieve forward progress through grief. Place your order today!

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Grief Letters By Karen Bransgrove, Published by WestBow Press. You can order here.

Hardcover | 6 x 9 in | 114 pages | ISBN 9781490869674

Softcover | 6 x 9 in | 114 pages | ISBN 9781490869667

E-Book | 114 pages | ISBN 9781490869650

Also available at Amazon and Barnes and Noble.

Behind Closed Doors

 

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One truth I try to always remember regarding my ministry to children and their families is the fact that we really do not know what goes on behind closed doors. Over the years I have discovered that people can put on a good show. Walls are built and lives kept private so that few people truly know what happens when no one is watching. Because of that truth, we need to serve with gratitude, discipline with grace, and teach with a passion that shows unconditional love. What a person receives through that gratitude, grace, and passion may be the only blessing they have in their life.

The same can hold true when you walk through grief. However, instead of applying this principle to others, you might try applying it to yourself. Giving yourself grace at the end of a long, hard day may be just what you need to sleep and wake up knowing you can handle another day. Only you know what you face when you go home at night and close the front door on the outside world. Who you share your journey with and when you do so is up to you.

There may be times when you cannot imagine telling anyone how you feel because that forces you to come to terms with your own emotions first. Pushing those feelings down to bury them is far easier at times than admitting to what truly happens behind closed doors. Will others understand the countless times you find yourself momentarily immobilized with hot tears suddenly cascading down your cheeks while you struggle to catch your breath?

How can anyone possibly understand the dread you feel upon returning home after long hours at work? Can others grasp that you wonder how you will fill the minutes that lie ahead in the too quiet evening? Will they see that you dislike bedtime because you will be not be able to unwind and achieve a restful night’s sleep since you haven’t slept through a whole night in years.

You have gotten so skilled at putting on a smile and having a good attitude most of the time that few might suspect there are times when the cheerfulness can be forced and feigned because you carry an ache too large to describe. When you find yourself in this situation, learn to be honest – at least with yourself. You don’t necessarily have to broadcast your every struggle. However, it is helpful to admit to yourself how you are truly feeling. You then enable yourself to move forward on your grief journey as you try to determine if you might handle things differently. There will be times when you do need a little privacy and a good cry. At others moments, you may find it healthier to let someone else see what is happening behind your closed door so they can encourage you along the way.

I share this topic not to gain pity or change attitudes about me, but to help others with similar struggles and feelings. You are not alone. What you face is real and, unfortunately, common when you have journeyed through death and loss. My hope is that when you see others succeed and move forward to find hope and healing in spite of pain, you will know that you too can achieve the same.

Living behind closed doors has both advantages and disadvantages. Having the wisdom to know the difference will help you make good decisions. This wisdom does not come from within you, but from Someone far wiser – the God who loves you and cares.

“If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you.” James 1:5 (NIV)

Until next time –

Karen

With the holidays approaching, Grief Letters makes the perfect gift for those walking through loss and sadness. This devotion book is filled with lessons learned from my own journey as well as suggested activities written to help achieve forward progress through grief. Place your order today!

ResizeImageHandler.ashx

Grief Letters By Karen Bransgrove, Published by WestBow Press. You can order here.

Hardcover | 6 x 9 in | 114 pages | ISBN 9781490869674

Softcover | 6 x 9 in | 114 pages | ISBN 9781490869667

E-Book | 114 pages | ISBN 9781490869650

Also available at Amazon and Barnes and Noble.