Contentment – how do you achieve it?

We’re entering the holiday season, preparing to celebrate Thanksgiving. Tradition says this is a time to gather with family and friends. You are to reflect upon all that you have experienced through the year and are expected to show contentment with your life.

But what happens when your life is no longer easy; no longer the same as it used to be due to the loss of a loved one? How do you manage the next two weeks of celebrations, memories, and heartache? How do you find contentment in spite of everything that is new and different?

Contentment. Synonyms are serenity, satisfaction, gladness, happiness, gratification, and ease. While it may seem overwhelming to feel these emotions in the midst of your grief, let’s try it. You might easily be able to give thanks for your home, your food, your job, and your health. However, when it comes to being thankful for the people in your life, it may be more difficult to express contentment. Perhaps you are celebrating this holiday without your loved one for the first time. Or maybe this has been your life for the last few years and you are weary trying to find contentment with your situation.

Figuring out how to face the holidays while missing those who are gone can be difficult. It can be hard to find something good to focus on in the midst of your grief that is still fresh and deep. To complicate matters, various family members may tend to handle their grief and loss differently, leading to misunderstandings and hard feelings. Instead of concentrating on what you don’t have, do your best to focus on what you do have. Finding contentment can occur when you are able to do this.

When I first had to deal with my loss, I was numb and only made the effort to move into the holiday season with a smile on my face because of my kids. It was plastered there as I tried to fake it. The first few years after my loss, I was unable to stay in my home and celebrate the holiday due to painful memories. We traveled and went elsewhere for the day itself. But as I continued to look for things for which I could be thankful, I began to realize there really were reasons for contentment. I did have my kids. I had a roof over my head. I had a job. I had people who loved me and cared about me. I decided to handle the situation by making a list of my blessings.

What do you need to do to find contentment this Thanksgiving? Do you need to try a new location away from painful memories? Are there friends you can invite to spend the day with you in order to begin making new traditions and new memories? Perhaps you decide to take a trip somewhere instead of opening up your home. Or maybe you can find a restaurant that offers a meal for so you don’t have the stress of preparing turkey and all the fixin’s yourself this year.

Whatever you decide to do, look for the things that are in your life and contemplate them with contentment. Making specific plans for the holiday can help the day go smoother and be less painful. Be brave, be creative, be gracious, and be willing as you walk your grief journey into this holiday season.

Until next time –

Karen

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.

Finding Good Grief Facebook page:  https://www.facebook.com/Finding-Good-Grief-289425764887980/

The days after

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So much effort is put into anticipating and preparing for special holidays, that you are often surprised by the days after it is all over. Thanksgiving and Christmas have already come and gone. Those special days you have come to dread without your loved one are finally finished. You have survived. Perhaps you enjoyed those harder days a bit more than you thought you would. The opportunity to laugh and smile came into play and you grasped those, filling your mind with new and different memories. Or perhaps you merely scraped by each day, putting forth the effort only for the sake of friends and loved ones still with you.

Many people feel sadness when the holidays are over. The much awaited excitement ends and a let-down from the process can occur. However, there is also a kind of relief that takes places for those on the grief journey. Now that the holidays are over, it is possible to let down your guard a little more. You do not find it necessary to brace for those waves of sadness and nostalgia that hit at the most inopportune times when others around you are laughing and enjoying the celebrations.

Along with the relief can come a bit of satisfaction that you really did make it through the holidays. Not only that, but hopefully you can find one or two truly golden moments to remember with fondness. Look back at the past month that has been full of activities, parties and gatherings, and demands. Celebrate and applaud yourself for accomplishing what you doubted you could live through. You survived the holidays!

As each year passes, the holidays will get better too. You will face them with less dread, you will find more joy, and you will create new traditions. Take a moment to breathe and realize that your future can look bright. Set your sights on what you want to accomplish now that the world around you is returning to “post-holiday normal” and decide what you will do next.

The grieving are not the only people facing a sort of depression and sadness the days after the holidays are over. Many people encounter quite a let-down after all their planning and celebrating. However, you and I have already learned to adjust to newness and changing times. You have an advantage on the rest of the world. You know you can face loss and life that is different from before. Take that knowledge and run with it. Plan new adventures for the upcoming new year. Revel in the fact that God has seen you through this past difficult month.

As you face the future of the days after, know that it can be a blank slate upon which you write your own possibilities, hopes, and dreams. Move forward with as much joy as you can muster and be open to blessings that are in store for you.

Until next time –

Karen

With a new year upon us, consider buying Grief Letters for a loved one or for yourself. Begin the year with hope and purpose. 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.

Conflicting Emotions

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I love autumn. It has always been my favorite season. It signals the end of those hot summer days by bringing crispness into the air that promises cooler temperatures. Bright shades of green hanging from limbs on the trees turn to brilliant displays of gold, red, orange, and brown. The crunch when walking in the grass brings back memories of raking leaves and jumping into assembled piles, scattering them with the careless abandon of joy that children can know so well. Yet, autumn now brings with it an air of sadness and regret. Autumn and conflicting emotions go hand-in-hand as I deal with my grief.

The beauty in the description of autumn is lessened a bit by the reality that this season brings to my family. That reality begins with anticipating reliving the losses we faced nearly five years ago now. While only one person died at that time, his death brings numerous hurts to the forefront this time of year. We not only mourn the day he passed away in November and moved to his residence in Heaven; we also miss him terribly in the holidays so closely associated with this time of year. These include Thanksgiving, birthdays, and Christmas.

Perhaps you too face autumn and conflicting emotions. Knowing that celebrating the holidays will never be the same can seem an impossible wound to overcome. Yet, each day will still hold twenty-four hours. The sun will still rise, causing the countdown to continue, whether you want time to pass or not. So instead of living with the extra dread of approaching holidays and anniversary dates, what can you do?

Choose how you will celebrate the holidays. You get to decide whether you will keep the age-old traditions of your family or if you need to change it up for a year or two or three. Some people find security and safety in keeping things the same. To eat the same food, put out the same decorations, and sing the same songs is a comfort. For others, the pain intensifies as you face the familiar decorations and customs that make you miss your loved one even more.

I managed to get through the holidays by making new traditions. Traveling with friends and family got me out of the house and away from memories that were too painful to face those first three years of loss. I purchased a new decoration to place on the table signifying that autumn had arrived, which focused on the word “blessed.” Even though it does not always feel true, I know that I am blessed. I trust that I am loved by God and recall that my loved one cherished me. I have a roof over my head, food on my table, and joy still resides in my heart.

As you see autumn and conflicting emotions cascade into your life just like this beautiful waterfall pictured today, remember that you are neither helpless nor hopeless. You do have choices you can make. Your past does not have to rule your future. Your loss does not have to control your today or tomorrow. Begin by writing down those things you can hold close and keep along with those memories you may need to pack away for a little while longer. The time will come when you can dig them out and allow them space in your heart and in your house. Until then, find courage to make new memories, knowing your loved one would want the best for you.

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!

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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.