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Stop Trying to Avoid Your Grief

Updated: Apr 5, 2020

Our human nature is to avoid pain. On one hand I get that. I mean who wants to hurt, right? But there are some things the more we try and avoid the more we find them staring us right in the face. Grief is like that. We can avoid talking about it. We can keep ourselves busy in an effort to avoid thinking about it. We can change our environment in an effort to get away from it. But the harsh reality is just this: no matter how hard we try to avoid or to deny or to get away from our it, our grief is not going anywhere. In fact, the more we try to avoid it, the more likely it is to rear its ugly head with a vengeance usually with the worst possible timing. So what in the world are we to do? STOP TRYING TO AVOID GRIEF!

Not all our grief has to be public. Actually, much of our grief is a very private thing. So I’m not asking you to get out of your comfort zone. This may be a “for your eyes only” kind of thing. But we have to stop avoiding the inevitable, especially during the holidays. We have Thanksgiving behind us but we still have to face Christmas. We’ve already decided we are giving ourselves permission and the freedom to change things up and to simplify during the holidays. But that does not mean we are avoiding anything. I am actually going to suggest quite the opposite. Instead of avoiding, we need to embrace our grief. We need to acknowledge things are not like they used to be and certainly not the way we would like for them to be. We need to find a way to incorporate our loved one into our holidays and into our Christmas.

The first Christmas after Nathan died, a dear sweet lady in our grief support group (Lera Galenis) bought a simple candle for each of us, tied a gold piece of ribbon around it and took a small piece of cardstock paper the candle would sit on and wrote the first name of our loved one who had died in gold calligraphy. She instructed us we were to light the candle on Christmas in memory and honor of them to remind us, even though not physically with us any more, our loved one was still very much a part of our lives. Something as simple as a candle, yet so comforting as Dave, Ashley and I made our way through Christmas morning.

This Christmas will be the 20th year without Nathan. Even after all these years, I still put up his childhood ornaments, some of which he made in preschool and kindergarten (thank you Andrea & Susan!). I also include this picture I’m posting of him sitting in a Christmas package with a Santa hat on his head. I LOVE this picture! Even with his criss-crossing eyes (we had not yet had the corrective surgery)! Oh the joy on his face! That smile inspires me to seek my own joy at Christmas as we celebrate the birth of Jesus. Sure at times it brings tears but it always brings such joy to this mother’s heart as I remember Nathan and the gift he still is to me, to our family and to so many others!!!

My encouragement to you is this: as hard as it may be, stop trying to avoid your grief. Stop trying to deny the obvious. It doesn’t work anyway. Instead figure out a way to make your loved one a part of your Christmas gatherings and celebrations. I think you will be glad you did—I know I am even 20 years later! Merry Christmas Nathan!

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