For the past few months, I’ve found myself unable to do much of anything. Trying to distract myself from grief with the launch of a blog and subsequent writing. It wasn’t enough. The thought of all I’ve endured and overcome has caused me to give pause for reflection. I have a lot to be thankful for, but that perspective didn’t appear on its own. It was the result of intentional journal writing. Often doing so regardless of how I felt. It’s a form of therapy I’m determined to pursue this holiday season. If you’ve found yourself suffering from grief during the holiday’s I encourage you to follow these steps.
First, give yourself permission to grieve the losses in your life. Not only are you allowed to grieve the death of a loved one but also the loss of relationships and other hardships. During the year 2018, I retired from a job that I loved and spent my entire adult life doing. I no longer enjoyed going to work and it was impacting my health negatively. Without going into details, I will say that my blood pressure has been in a “normal range” since my departure.
This is also the year I finally admitted to myself that I’ve grieved the loss of serving in ministry. Removing myself from a leadership role after enduring misogynistic behavior one too many times. I did not grieve the loss of status or the position I once held. No, for me it was the passion I had as a woman in ministry and all the aspects it entailed. I enjoyed the sermon preparations, teaching small groups, leading prayer, and hospital visits. The reality of no longer serving on a church staff came with a loss of identity. I had to reexamine who I was outside of church life, allow myself time to heal and ask God for a new direction in life. He is faithful.
I would be remiss if I didn’t acknowledge the impact of my mother and brother’s deaths during the holiday season. A time once spent with family and filled with tradition is now part of a bygone era. Each sibling grieving alone, with their own respective families. Alone, I’ve chosen to write through my grief. It has taken a while for me to arrive at this decision; giving myself permission to do so in the process.
Second, focus on what you CAN accomplish rather than on what you can’t. Spend time writing in your journal about whatever topic you desire. Don’t limit it to dreams, goals or reflections. I recently jotted down a few suggestions I heard after listening to a podcast I enjoy. Since I needed to remember several ideas that I will implement once I make it through the holiday’s I thought “what better place than my journal to record these ideas.” Also, your devotional time should become a priority if it hasn’t already. Spending time reading your bible and in prayer can result in a great improvement in your overall mental health.
If you have remaining time and feel the need to distract yourself, I would encourage you to take up a writing project. Write an article on how you made it through the holidays (or any other topic) and polish it for submission. Write a blog post or guest post for a fellow blogger. You could also resume work on your “great American novel” or manuscript. Why not try all three!
Finally, don’t compare yourself to anyone else. We are admonished in 2 Corinthians 10:12 to “not compare ourselves to others” and that doing so is “unwise.” It’s inevitable to begin plans for the new year. The Instagram feeds of others are filled with plans for 2019 and personally, I think its great. However, for the individual who’s in the midst of grief, the idea of planning may appear a bit overwhelming. Don’t allow someone else’s feed cause you to feel bad about your self or own lack of progress. Remind yourself that it’s not a priority for you right now.
By giving yourself permission this holiday season to grieve the losses you’ve endured in your life you will make room for much-needed progress in the new year. You deserve it!