How Do You Move Forward?

10533294_sThe smell of chestnuts over an open fire, cinnamon and pumpkin filling the air.  The tree is trimmed and decorations are perfectly hung.  Everyone is getting ready for the holidays.  Shopping at the last minute and traffic jams at every mall.  Some get excited about the holiday season.  You think about spending time with family and friends.  What happens when you suffer a great loss of a family member or friend?  How do you move forward?  How do you jump into the holiday season and grieve?

This year many have suffered loss.  I think it’s important to be gentle with yourself, and others during this time.  It’s important to find a balance between time with yourself and time with friends.  I think it’s only natural to isolate oneself when you suffer a loss.  Give yourself a break, and not push yourself to facilitate the best holiday ever.  Take time for yourself, but make sure to make time with others.  It’s not good to stay in your head, alone with your thoughts.  That’s a scary place to be.

You may want to purchase a tree and decorate in order to keep you in the game.  To acknowledge those that are alive.  I think focusing on the living is an act of gratitude to those who are alive.  You do what you can, which might mean you find simple ways to inspire the holiday season that doesn’t cause you added stress.  You might find yourself purchasing a table top tree from a store.  Can you be ok with that decision?

Moving forward doesn’t mean you forget.  It means it’s important to stay engaged in life.  You might find yourself  needing to be alone certain days.  I think it’s totally normal.  The hope is you don’t continue to isolate day after day.  Grieving with friends is powerful and healing.  You can seek out support groups that focus on the topic of grieving.  I think being around others who have been through similar experiences can be very powerful and healing.  You’re not alone.  Our House is a non-profit grief support program in Los Angeles.  Our House is a supportive program for the entire family to begin the healing process.  Here’s their information:

Holidays can bring people together.  I think connecting with others can help the process of healing.  You might develop new traditions as a family.  Creating new traditions can help you process the feelings of loss.  I think it’s important to accept the loss, instead of trying to ignore your feelings.  It’s important not to push yourself beyond what you can do.  Allow yourself to online shop or tell family members this year to draw names for gifts, because you’re unable to shop due to loss.

I think it’s important to avoid using alcohol and drugs during the holidays.  You might feel as if you want to zone out, but this will not work.  You will feel more depression and emotions will be more intense.  Instead, journal through your day.  Go on walks and exercise to feel your feelings.  Call friends and family and allow others to help.  It’s ok to step down and let others take the lead so you can be where you are.  Others will understand and may even feel valued if they know they can help you.

It’s important to reach others.  Therapists, counselors and pastors are available during the holidays to provide support.  I encourage you to reach out for support.  Sometimes it’s hard to talk to family members about your pain.  We are there to provide support.  Feel free to contact us at 888-851-2666 x1 or


Elana Clark-Faler
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