Now You “See” It, Now You Don’t…

Now you see it, now you don'tI had a meltdown yesterday and it is only December 2!  After an intense session with my analyst, I returned home, ate lunch, and felt exhausted.  I took a 2 1/2 hour nap with my cats and woke up feeling tired. Then I spotted the familiar red wrapped boxes in my kitchen. The day before I bought several boxes of See’s candy to give to various people.  I didn’t think twice – I ripped open one of the boxes and proceeded to eat 7 pieces of candy.  I then made coffee and was able to work for a few hours from the mixture of sugar and caffeine.  I felt no guilt.  So what was the emotional trigger?  I confronted yet again the reality that I miss Roy and our holiday traditions and I am not in a serious love relationship yet  (by my own choice).  I feel alone.

Lastsanta week I decorated my place with our decorations,  as well as those of my mother’s that I have. Now she and Roy are both dead – just writing that four letter word “dead” feels sad and heavy.  I started playing holiday music on Thanksgiving eve – an annual tradition I started with Roy several years ago.  The tradition was a fun and humorous point of contention between us because Roy didn’t really like listening to holiday music all day, every day, for 30 days.  So now when I hear the music I reflect on how much I miss his sarcasm about the music and yet, I still love listening to it. I am grateful that I can listen to it again and that I decorated for the holidays.

Three years after Roy’s death, the holidays still warrant critical focus on physical, emotional and spiritual self care.  So what am I doing?  I have my five day per week exercise routine that I stick to, I eat sensibly and allow for holiday cheer in moderation (the other boxes of See’s candy will be delivered tomorrow and I put the one I attacked in the garbage this morning), I see my analyst, I journal, I work on my projects, I pray as I look at the ocean each morning, I help others by giving my time to charities I support, and I am making plans with friends and family for fun outings between now and January 1, 2015.  I am creating balance in my days.  I have carved out time for quiet reflection, as well as dates to be with people I love and feel at home with.  This is critical for those of us who have endured the loss of loved ones. I don’t believe it is healthy to spend a great deal of time alone or to be so overextended with activities that we are tired and disconnected from our core self. Balance is the name of the game.

Romain RollandAs a mental health practitioner and a widow of 3+ years, I know that holidays are particularly hard for those who are grieving.  If grief is new to you, then your capacity to plan activities might be hindered – let someone help you plan what you will do or have someone stay with you.  The late French author Romain Rolland says: “Be reverent, before the dawning day. Do not think of what will be in a year, or in ten years. Just think of today.”  So whether grief is new or familiar, take good care of you right now.  Cry, sob, rest, pray, eat, and love – that is enough for this holiday season.

Namaste,

Kathleen