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SURVIVING THE HOLIDAYS
...in the Midst of Life’s Losses
by Randy Becton

1.  EXPECT THIS TIME TO BE HARD. But you will survive. I did not say holidays will be happy, nor that they will be anything but difficult. You've never had to deal with this particular loss before (each loss is unique).

2.  BE EASY ON YOURSELF. Some of the struggle of going through a difficult loss is not just finding the strength to get through the loss, but it's how hard we are on ourselves. We expect a superhuman strength when the chips are down that we likely won't have. we can be very self-critical and sometimes even self-destructive.

3.  SUMMON ALL THE SPIRITUAL SUPPORT, EMOTIONAL SUPPORT, AND GOOD MENTAL HEALTH PRINCIPLES YOU CAN GET. Don't be afraid to ask for help. You're not self-sufficient. Ask one friend, "if I get down, can I call and talk with you? Will you keep my calls confidential - just between you and me?" Then use that friend for a safety valve.

4.  DON'T BE AFRAID TO ENJOY SOMETHING OR SOMEBODY. it's okay. What happens when we grieve is that we work to accept the reality of and experience the pain of adjusting to life without the person. In time we finally begin to withdraw -the emotional investment we had in that person. We may someday reinvest it. we are slow to reinvest,  by the  because we believe that this dishonors  the memory of the one we loved. But, eventually, we come to a point when we say, "When I do-this, I'm not dishonoring his or her memory." This is healthy grief that finally, on your timetable, allows you to reinvest yourself.

5.  DRAW ON YOUR FAITH AND TELL GOD EXACTLY HOW YOU FEEL. In this period of grief, some of you who have a strong faith are going to be embarrassed at your strong feelings toward God. One widow told me, "I told God I was so mad at him for letting my husband pass away on Christmas day." We can be angry at God, and we can tell him all about it. It's okay. He understands when we bring him our grief.

6.  BE GENTLE ON YOUR CONSOLERS. They often don't know what to do or say. But they're going to do something and say something. just forgive them. Give them needed but undeserved kindness. And the worst ones are the ones who think they know what to do and say. You're going to have to forgive them double.

7.  DO SOMETHING OUT OF LOVE FOR SOMEBODY. Send a card, give a gift, or help someone with a problem. You'll enjoy a marvelous feeling that you are a worthwhile person when you do something out of love for someone else.

8.  TRY NOT TO WITHDRAW. Let friends include you. if you receive three invitations for social activities, try to take at least one. And you can say, -This will be hard for me. But, yes, I'll come. Would you be willing for me to not stay the whole time?" Try to push yourself out a little bit. It's a mentally healthy thing to do.

9.  LET THE PAST MEMORIES FLOOD YOU. Allow yourself to remember. It is genuinely human to do that. You and I are part of everything that has ever hurt us. And it's a permanent part of us. I have a massive scar on my hand where I went through a window at the age of twelve. it reminds me of the 41/2 hours the doctors needed to sew my hand back together. That scar is part of me. That experience of insecurity is a permanent memory. Now, the good news is that good experiences, those times of joy, are also in our memory bank. Let those past memories flood you.

10.  VISIT THE GRAVESIDE AND TALK. Or take a favorite picture from that album in the closet and talk, and cry. it may be on the anniversary of the time you lost him or her that you need to set aside a two-hour period to go walk and talk in the graveyard. Don't say, "That's too painful." There's something healthy for you when you walk toward your pain. So you'll want to let the reality be with you. Feel free to apologize to your loved one if you carry some regret about how you failed him or her. You can forgive him for not being all he could have been.  Just tell him good-bye.  You can even forgive him for leaving.  People wh talk to those they love and lose may be smarter than the rest of us.

11.  REMEMBER THAT YOU ARE NORM.  Dr. says it will take at least four seasons - one full  year - to make significant progress in dealing with your loss. Maybe two or three. I notice many make the mistake of putting a timetable  on grief. Nobody can tell you how long it will take- you to reach that healthy level of coping. We're all different. Your task is to work through from the ache to sweet sadness. The good news is that you're likely to get there. Why do I believe that? Well, I like the old Testament reference to God as our strength and refuge, "a very present help in time of trouble" (Psalm 46: 1).

12.  DRAW STRENGTH AND HOPE FROM YOUR FAITH. You decided long ago to trust a God who cares. You may have to call on this faith more out of conviction than out of feeling to help see you through since you're not always going to feel this trust emotionally. I have said things that are true even when many times I didn't feel them. I believe God has done something that has forever changed the face of human suffering - he raised his Son from the dead! There is a God who cares.

ENCOURAGEMENT FROM SCRIPTURE

John 11:17-26; Romans 5: 1 - 10; 1 Corinthians 15:20-24; 50-58;
2 Corinthians 5: 1-9; Philippians 3:20-4:1; 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18; 
Hebrews 11:1-31; Peter 1:18-21; 1 John 3:1-2.