Posted on December 9, 2019 in Seven Stones
Letter to the Bereaved from Rev. Mary Jo Honiotes
When we are grieving the loss of our loved one, we can hardly escape the messages during this time of year of holiday happiness, perfect presents, problem free family gatherings and a joy incomparable to any other time of year. Pile a few of these messages onto one another and before we know it we’re experiencing a grief tsunami in the middle of the grocery store.
This is a time of year to reflect on our loved one and to honor the grief present during this time. The most important consideration we must make is “caring for our grieving heart.”
Consider and decide how you want to spend the holidays and let your friends and family know. Be honest. If you are able to sit quietly and think about all the activities you are involved in, perhaps in the silence, you will get a sense of which ones you want to participate in and which ones you don’t.
There is no season or timeline on our grief. For many of us, our grief goes deeper with passing years. As you respect your grief journey, others will, too.
To honor my 25 year old niece, who died of an accidental overdose in 2015, our family leaves an empty chair at our Christmas dinner table. We will buy gifts in honor of Kelly and give them to other young people struggling with addiction. And, we will always feel her presence.
It could be very supportive, too, to attend a grief group or spend some time with a compassionate counselor. This is a time when we “need” more, do not feel like you “should” be okay if you are not.
Listen to yourself, trust yourself, communicate with your family and do what works for you.
Grief is very alive within us because we love very deeply. Everything is different now and it will never be the same. And we are not alone. Perhaps the holiday season will offer some gifts for us that we are not expecting. We can be a blessing and a comfort to others. I’ve heard this experience referred to as GriefJoy. We are becoming, through our grief, very compassionate individuals. And the world needs our broken-open heart.
May your holidays be blessed with moments of comfort and peace. May you feel the presence of the love you and loved one share. May you care for yourself and your grieving heart with grace and courage.
Rev. Mary Jo Honiotes