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Grief and Professional Help: When to Consider Therapy

By AfterCare, Grief/Loss

Grief is normal. It hurts to lose someone dear to you, and it makes sense to acknowledge this pain. Everybody must go through a grieving process when losing a loved one. The grief journey is an indicator that the person who passed on was dearly loved. But what happens when the intensity of grief will not subside? What if you find yourself unable to cope, even though many months or years have passed since your loss?

Complicated Grief

If you find yourself unable to function in daily life long after the loss of your loved one, you may want to consider the possibility that you are experiencing complicated grief. While grief is a perfectly normal, healthy response to the event of loss, complicated grief is a psychological problem that, if left untreated, can severely impact your quality of life.

Receiving Help

If you think you may be struggling with complicated grief, treatment is available. Grief counseling can be a useful resource for dealing with complicated grief. A trained counselor can give you the tools that you need to start enjoying your life again. It is important to realize that counseling is not an attempt to make you forget about the life of your loved one or diminish their legacy. Rather, it is a way to help you accept the reality of their death and make tangible steps to get to a point where you can find joy in life.

Rational Thinking

Counseling can be especially beneficial if you find yourself suffering from extreme guilt, anxiety, or fear. Getting an outside perspective could help you to see when your thoughts become irrational. For instance, if you are someone who blames yourself for the death of a loved one, hearing a fresh perspective might allow you to see things differently. A liberating insight from a therapist could provide just the boost that you need to get back to finding joy and meaning in your life.

Accepting the Reality of Loss

Of course, it is unhelpful and unrealistic to believe that we will ever fully “move on” or “recover” from a loss. Even if this state of mind could be achieved, it wouldn’t be desirable. You will always remember the person that you loved, and the knowledge of their loss will always be painful. This knowledge falls under the category of grief that is considered normal. The pain of loss is part of what it means to love.  But if your thoughts of your loved one border on obsession, and if long after your loved one has passed, you find yourself ignoring everything except for these thoughts, then you may be struggling to accept the reality of the loss. Grief therapy can help you get to acceptance, and can provide you with advice on how to carry this experience with you as you continue to navigate your life journey.

How Do I Know if Counseling is Right for Me?

Studies suggest that people who are struggling with complicated grief respond better to therapy than those who struggle with normal grief. For those who are still on their grief journey, time is the most important factor in the healing process.  So how can you be sure that therapy will be useful for you? Since there is no set time frame for working through the grieving process, at what point can you reasonably estimate that your grief has become complicated?

There’s no definitive answer to these questions. You have no way of knowing with absolute certainty if counseling or the mere passage of time will be the best approach for your mental health. But if you feel that a significant amount of time has passed and that you are still unable to cope with daily life, it couldn’t hurt to give counseling a try. At the very least, you’ll have a trained professional to talk to, an experienced person who will listen as you get some things off your chest. This simple step could end up making a great difference.

Dealing With Grief on Father’s Day

By AfterCare, Exclude from Top Posts, Seasonal

Father’s Day is almost here, and if you have recently lost a father or child, Father’s Day can be a particularly painful day of the year. Fathers fill an irreplaceable role in our lives. If you had a good father, then this time can be sorrowful and maybe even bittersweet as you remember good times. If you had a more difficult relationship with your father, Father’s Day can bring up painful memories. Or, if your father was absent physically or emotionally, Father’s Day can bring out feelings of loneliness and sadness.

And on the other side, if you are a father who has lost a beloved child, Father’s Day can amplify your feelings of loss. You may even be struggling with guilt and how you could have prevented your child’s death. What you are feeling is normal. Everyone feels a wide range of emotions when they lose someone they love. Sometimes the pain of what might have been is the most difficult to overcome.

If you find yourself dreading the third Sunday in June, consider applying a few of the suggestions below to help you turn Father’s Day into an opportunity to honor your loved one’s memory in a special way.

Find an activity to do in memory of your loved one

Consider doing something that your father or child enjoyed. Watch a favorite movie, listen to a favorite song, or go to a favorite location. Remembrance is an important part of the grieving process. Paradoxically, it’s important to move backward in order to eventually move forward. By remembering, you forge a path forward in the work of grieving. Finding a way to pay tribute to your loved one can help you find meaning in the day. Father’s Day will still be difficult, but by engaging in a meaningful activity, you can give the day special significance.

Make time for solitude

Carve out time for peace and quiet. Don’t force your thoughts or emotions; just observe them, letting them come and go as they will. If you need to use this time to reflect on your loved one’s life, then do so. If you’d rather use it as a moment to breathe and relax without having to think of anything that could be emotionally stressful, then let yourself enjoy a moment of peace. We all need moments of peace in the struggle, so don’t begrudge yourself a few moments alone.

Talk to family or friends about how you are feeling

During painful times, it’s important to surround yourself with people who will support you. More than likely, Father’s Day is going to elicit some strong emotions within you, so consider making time to talk with a family member or close friend so that you can get a few things off your chest. If you don’t have anybody that you can talk to, consider joining a grief support group. Go online and search for groups in your area. Having somebody to listen and offer sympathy for your loss is enormously beneficial for your grief journey.

Write about your experience

For some, it’s easier to write than to talk because the practice allows you time to get your thoughts together before expressing them vocally. If that’s you, pour out your feelings on paper or in front of a computer. You may feel that your feelings are too raw or personal to share in conversation, so writing is a good alternative. If you do decide to write, be honest about everything you’re feeling. In the end, you may want to keep your thoughts private and write only for the therapeutic value of expressing yourself. But if you feel up to it, you may want to consider sharing your writing with people who are close to you. Don’t worry about “bringing other people down.” Those who care about you want to know how you’re feeling.

For those who have lost a father

Focus on what your father meant to you and what you learned from him. What is your father’s legacy? Why was he special to you? If your memories are more painful, you may try to focus on forgiveness. List all of your painful thoughts, and then, one by one, go through the list and release your father from blame and resentment. Remember, forgiveness is for you. Even if the individual is deceased, you may need to work toward forgiveness for your own health and wellness.

For those who have lost a child

Focus on what your child brought to your life and how their presence impacted you. Tell them how you feel about them, what you miss about them, what your hopes and dreams were for them. If you are struggling with feelings of guilt or anger, that’s okay. Maybe you could have done something different, maybe you couldn’t have – what really matters is how you are going to honor and remember your child now that they are gone.

If you are a blogger or on social media, you may choose to post your thoughts about your experience and raise awareness about how Father’s Day can be painful for some. Your post could serve as an encouragement to others who have lost a father or child.  Whatever you choose to do, expressing your feelings will help you reflect on and process your current experience.

Honor other fathers in your life

Do you have a mentor or a surrogate father in your life? Maybe it’s an uncle, grandfather, spiritual leader, coach, teacher, or family friend who stepped in and became like a father to you when you needed one. Even something as simple as sending a thank you card or an email on Father’s Day can bring comfort to you and honor the person who has been there for you when you just needed a dad. Try thinking of all the “fathers” who have been there for you over the years, and send each one a personal thank you note sharing how much you appreciated their love, support, and words of wisdom.

Honoring our Fallen Soldiers on Memorial Day

By AfterCare, Exclude from Top Posts, Seasonal

Memorial Day is just around the corner. You might use the holiday as an opportunity to grab a hot dog, plop down in a lawn chair, and settle in for a relaxing three-day weekend. Almost everybody is familiar with the holiday’s contemporary rituals, but many Americans have very little knowledge of the history of Memorial Day.

Background

There is considerable disagreement as to the true birthplace of the Memorial Day.  Of course, humans have used ceremony to honor those who have died in battle for hundreds, possibly thousands, of years. However, some people trace the roots of the American holiday back to 1868, when Major Gen. John A. Logan designated May 30th as Decoration Day, a day on which the graves of Civil War soldiers would be commemorated.

Other stories place the holiday’s origins in Charleston, S.C., or Waterloo, N.Y., or Columbus, GA around a similar time.  It’s safe to say that in the aftermath of the Civil War, which caused more American deaths than any other armed conflict, many people in various places were looking for ways to honor those who died in combat. But it wasn’t until 1971, more than a century later, that Memorial Day became an official holiday that was marked by the last Monday of May.

Honoring the Fallen

Now, Memorial Day represents the threshold of summer. To bring in the new season, we participate in cook-outs and kick back by the pool. While it’s perfectly fine to usher in the new season and take the opportunity to celebrate our country, we should also remember those who have given their lives in service and reflect on their sacrifices.

It’s always important to take a few moments of silence. However, this year, you may decide that you want to do a little bit more. If so, there are plenty of opportunities to make this Memorial Day special by remembering those who have given their lives in service to their country. Below are some ideas for paying your respects to the lives of deceased service members on this important day. One of the best ways to honor those who have died is to serve the living in their name. Partnering with the organizations below will serve as a beautiful tribute to the servicemen and women who have passed away.

Donate to Help Grieving Families

Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors (TAPS) provides care for families that are grieving in the aftermath of the loss of a veteran or active duty member of the armed forces. They provide around-the-clock support and resources to grieving family members. Through their Good Grief camps and Survivor’s Seminars, TAPS helps loved ones process their grief and gives them the tools that they need to make it through a difficult time. Widows and widowers, parents, siblings, and children have all benefited from the extraordinary work that TAPS does. Consider donating to this organization to make a difference in the life of someone who is grieving.

Donate to Help Children who Have a Parent in Service

Children of Fallen Patriots is dedicated to looking after the children of soldiers who have died in service. They provide college scholarships and educational counseling. Their works ensures that children receive the educational opportunities they need to thrive. Donating to this organization is a great way to honor the memory of veterans who have died during military service and to ensure that their loved ones receive the proper care and attention.

Provide Yard Care

For more than 10 years, Project Evergreen has provided lawn services to disabled war veterans and to the families of soldiers who are currently deployed. They mow, trim, and fertilize lawns. Snow and ice removal services are also available. You can sign up to volunteer in any state. By taking some time out of your day to work up a little sweat, you could be an enormous help to veterans and their families.

Donate to Help Injured Veterans

Wounded Warrior Project provides free aid in the form of mental and physical health services, benefits advice and career counseling to veterans who were wounded post 9/11. Through free programs and events, they offer a helping hand and work to increase veterans’ quality of life after injury. They also offer support to the concerned families of wounded veterans and offer programs to help them as they walk through a difficult period of life with their loved ones. Start a fundraiser or donate personally to ensure that this charity continues to do great work.

Send a Care Package

Operation Gratitude sends care packages to veterans and service members. You can write a personal “thank you” letter to accompany the food and gifts that you send their way. You can also sign up to volunteer at the Forward Operating Base in Chatsworth, CA. Care packages are gifts of encouragement that remind veterans that we haven’t forgotten the sacrifices that they’ve made.

Other Volunteer and Donation Opportunities

There are many other ways to say thank you to the soldiers who have given so much for their country. You may want to do some research into other charities. Alternatively, if you know of another organization that honors veterans and accepts contributions, consider donating to it. Use this time as an opportunity to do a little something for those who have done so much for us. Let this Memorial Day be the catalyst for action.

Sorting Through a Loved One’s Possessions

By AfterCare, Planning Tools

If you have lost a loved one, you may find yourself dreading the day when you have to dispose of your loved one’s favorite shirt or the books on the shelf that he or she would read and re-read until the pages wore down. Possessions are tied to events, and when you come across an item that was a part of a loved one’s identity, you find yourself in a lose-lose situation: it hurts to keep it and it hurts to part with it.

Lighten the Burden

But there are ways to make the cleaning process more bearable. Sorting through a lost loved one’s belongings is never easy, but by developing a strategy, you can make it much more tolerable. Here are some tips that might provide you with some peace as you begin to face this daunting task:

1. Develop a Game Plan

Give yourself some structure. Diving in without a full understanding of the scope of the project will probably leave you feeling overwhelmed and exhausted. Make a list of what needs to be done and organize your goals. Separate the items that you need to clean into groups, and move from group to group. You might want to designate each room as a separate job, and have an individual strategy for each room.

2. Set Small Goals

After the loss of a loved one, cleaning can be physically and emotionally draining. For this reason, it’s important to pace yourself. Completing any task, big or small, provides you with a sense of satisfaction, so break one task into five and have five moments of victory! Be sure to take plenty of breaks between tasks. Develop a reward system for yourself. Maybe you’ll decide to grab a coffee after finishing a certain closet, or take a TV break after finishing a room.

3. Sort as You Go

You’ll cut down on a lot of excess time and energy if you sort the items into piles as you go. You may want to designate areas or boxes labeled “Keep,” “Donate,” “Give to a family member,” and “Throw away.” Label your boxes or bags and place things in the appropriate areas. Sorting items on the front end will help you decide on a clear goal for each item you come across and will make the project more manageable.

4. Set a Quantity Limit

As you look over all of your loved one’s possessions, you are probably going to be tempted to keep too much. So, in addition to setting goals for the completion of your project, set goals for your ability to let go. There is no way you can keep everything. The best way to decide what to keep is to write a short list of items ahead of time that you can’t imagine parting with and set specific limitations for each type of item you will keep.

5. Assess Each Item for Future Worth

Which items are the most meaningful? When you first begin to look at the loved one’s possessions, everything seems important. And when you decide which items are most important, how do you know if keeping it is what the loved one would really want? The process of determining what to keep and what to part with can be extremely difficult. There are no fixed criteria to help you decide to hold on to item A and let go of item B. It’s ultimately up to you to decide. Remember the loved one’s connection to the possession and try to decide if there is any real value in keeping the object. If not, consider donating it.

6. Invite Friends to Help

You might want to invite close friends to help out. It’s important to surround yourself with people that can provide emotional support. If you decide that this is a personal project that you’d rather complete on your own, that’s fine too, but you may want to consider planning time to be with others during breaks, or right before or after working. Falling back on a support network can be extremely helpful when facing tasks that are emotionally difficult.

7. Find Peace with the Decisions that you Make

Sorting through your loved one’s belongings can put you in an emotionally vulnerable place and can lead to self-doubt. Remember: there is nothing to feel guilty about. Letting some things go is not an act of betrayal. On the contrary, it is a gift to your loved one, a tribute. Maintaining a healthy attitude is key. Know that what you are doing is necessary, and view it as one more way to honor the person that you love.

Self-Acceptance

Cleaning out a loved one’s home or possessions after a loss can be a stressful task, so go easy on yourself. Remind yourself of the importance of what you are doing, and keep a positive mindset. Don’t rush through the project, and above all, leave no room for guilt. Love yourself just as you loved the person that you lost. Know that this is a challenging project, and that your best effort is good enough.

 

Grieving During the Holiday Season

By AfterCare, Christmas, Exclude from Top Posts, Seasonal, Thanksgiving No Comments

The absence of a loved one during the holidays can bring extremely painful feelings to the surface. Just as you’ve found your groove in a “new normal,” the holidays come at you with a whirlwind of joy, good cheer, happiness, and all things family. Needless to say, the holidays can be an emotional roller coaster for grieving individuals. Having a plan for the holidays can make this time a little more bearable. First, it’s important to acknowledge that this holiday season will not be perfect. So, what is the next step for grieving in a healthy way during the holidays? Here are five actions you can take to help heal your heavy heart:

Save a Seat

Some individuals feel sad or frustrated when a loved one’s missing presence goes unacknowledged during the holidays. They might feel as if the person they love has been “forgotten” or “left behind.” One way to include your loved one into the holiday festivities is by dedicating a specific seat at the dinner table or a spot on the couch in the living room just for them. Consider decorating the memorial area to make it more personable. For example, light a candle, set a place at the table, or fill a space with photos of your loved one and surround it with their favorite flowers or holiday decorations. Having a designated place to honor your loved one allows you to acknowledge the absent family member without feeling like they are being ignored or excluded from your holiday activities.

Keep Traditions (or Try a New One)

Sometimes it takes more than a visual reminder to keep the legacy of your loved one alive during the season. You might find comfort in keeping sacred traditions you shared with your family member prior to their passing. Cooking their favorite dish to serve at the family feast or watching their beloved classic film before bed can bring back happy memories of times once spent together. Keep in mind that new traditions can also be helpful if old traditions are too painful to face. Whatever you decide to do, setting aside time for activities that can be both joyful and painful are healthy ways of coping with your loss.

Take Time to Reminisce

Remembering the past can be bittersweet for grieving hearts. You might find talking about past times with your loved one can be an effective way of coping with your loss. Find pictures from some of your favorite memories and share the stories behind them with a family member or friend who you feel comfortable with. If you are not quite ready to openly talk about the past, scrapbooking is a creative way to share memories without having to speak a word. Another private option is to share your feelings and reminisce with the love one you miss through a letter. Transferring thoughts of memories into words may be painful, but processing them into words can assist in the healing journey.

Call a Time Out if You Need To

The hustle and bustle of the holiday season can leave anyone physically and emotionally drained. You might feel especially fatigued if you are grieving during the holiday chaos. It is essential to take time away from the commotion and schedule in some time for restful activities that you enjoy. You may want to take a walk, splurge on a massage, listen to meditations on grief and healing after loss, or curl up with a cup of coffee and a good book. Give yourself time to process your emotions and refresh your spirit so you are better able to navigate the hectic pace of the season.

Give Back

Holidays are known for being a time of selflessness. A grieving heart can make the idea of giving seem exasperating and exhausting. However, if you find a cause your loved one was passionate about, you may find that giving in their honor is an outlet for your emotions. Giving can come in many different forms. If you feel capable, volunteering your time can be a great way to make a difference and keep your mind at work. Sign up to ring the bell for Salvation Army or volunteer at a donation center. If physical work is too strenuous or you are on a tight schedule, giving your resources can also be beneficial. You could gather donation items like canned goods or sweaters and blankets to give to local charities or join a local Toys for Tots or Angel Tree program.

Try to choose a cause that doesn’t require an extra errand. Financial contributions are always appreciated if that method of donation is more preferable for your family. You can do any of these activities or contributions in honor of your loved one, helping you continue their legacy, cope with your grief, and actively help those in need.

The holidays will never be the same. Going forward, the challenge will be finding a healthy balance between joy and sadness, tears and laughter, activity and rest. Remember to pace yourself, take care of yourself, and don’t take on more than you can handle.

Rituals and Traditions that Help Us Heal

By AfterCare, Meaningful Funerals No Comments

Traditions and rituals help us to express our deepest thoughts about life’s most significant events. Special ceremonies like graduations, weddings, and baby dedications involve traditions and rituals that help us mark important milestones in life. When a loved one dies, rituals and traditions can also help us mark a significant event and spend time remembering and finding healing.

What makes a ritual so effective? First, rituals are symbolic. When we lose a loved one, we can use symbolic acts such as lighting a candle for the one we love, releasing a balloon or a lantern, or setting a place at the table on a birthday or anniversary. These symbols help us to remember that our loved one is always with us in our hearts.

shutterstock_285296222Second, rituals help us express emotion. Dr. Alan Wolfelt, renowned grief counselor and educator, is often quoted as saying, “When words are inadequate, have a ritual.” Sometimes, we need an outlet for expressing our deepest emotions, and words are not enough. When a loss occurs, the wound is often so deep that the pain goes beyond our ability to process with language. In times of great distress, a ritual can be more comforting and healing than 1000 eloquent words.

Finally, rituals unite people in a common, shared experience. Funerals, visitations, candlelight services, memorial events, and celebration of life ceremonies help us feel a certain solidarity with others who are sharing our grief and loss. We have a unique sense of comfort from knowing that we are not alone and that others are supporting us on our journey through grief.

We know that rituals and traditions can bring healing to the wounded heart. We know that ceremonies and gatherings help us feel connected to others and supported by the presence of loved ones. We know that rituals help us express our deepest emotions as we search for healing and reconciliation with grief. Below are a few examples of how you can incorporate the power of rituals into your healing journey.

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Light a candle – Set a place at the table or set up a memorial display area at home and light a candle when you want to honor the memory of a loved one. You can light a candle every day or on special occasions such as birthdays, anniversaries, or holidays. Lighting a candle symbolizes the light that your loved one brought to you and the memory of the person who lives on in your heart.

Release balloons, doves, butterflies, or paper lanterns – Releasing a balloon or lantern is a ritual that symbolizes releasing a lost loved one or sending loving thoughts to their spirit. Some people write notes and attach them to balloons or lanterns. Some people release doves or butterflies to symbolize a loved one’s ascension to heaven or transition into a new spiritual form.

Recall memories – Family and friends may choose to gather on special occasions to share memories and honor a loved one. This may occur on the first anniversary of the death, at family reunions, or on significant days like Mother’s Day or Father’s Day.

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Go to the graveside – Some people who grieve find comfort in visiting the grave of their loved one, leaving fresh flowers, or simply spending time reflecting on the loss. Mourners often visit the grave on special days or on any day that they want to feel close to their loved one.

Attend a support group or special memorial event– Certain community events such as support groups, grief workshops, or remembrance events such as candlelight vigils can also bring comfort and healing. Such events help us connect with others who are also feeling the pain of a loss, which can bring a greater sense of peace.

Carry a remembrance item – Sometimes a small keepsake, like a handkerchief, a watch, a piece of jewelry, or a small heirloom can serve as a reminder of a lost loved one. If you don’t have a keepsake, you can choose memorial jewelry that is designed to carry cremation ashes or a lock of hair or that is imprinted with the fingerprint of a person who has died. You can even have a diamond made from the ashes of a loved one! Heirlooms and keepsakes also serve as a daily reminder that often brings comfort to those who mourn.

Dealing with Grief on Mother’s Day

By AfterCare, Exclude from Top Posts, Seasonal

Mother’s Day is a special day, set aside to honor the mothers who have done so much for us. But Mother’s Day is often a very difficult day for two sets of people: those who are mourning the loss of a mother, and mothers who are mourning the loss of a child. On a day that celebrates the mother-child relationship, these people are faced with painful reminders of their loss.

The differences between losing a parent and losing a child are massive. They cannot be compared, nor should they be. Each has its own challenges, its own hurts, its own obstacles. But there are some similar things you can do to prepare for the hard days you will face, particularly ones that you can see coming, like holidays. That said, if you have experienced the loss of a mother or the loss of a child, you have our sincerest sympathies. As we approach Mother’s Day this year, here are some tips to help you get through the holiday and cope with the great loss you have suffered.

Emotionally prepare in the days before the holiday

It’s not just Mother’s Day that’s hard. The week leading up to Mother’s Day can also trigger painful memories and stir up strong emotions. Thoughts – your internal life – will be one of your biggest obstacles. Take some time before the holiday to plan how you want to focus your thoughts. You may choose to focus on the gratitude you feel for the time you had with your mother or child. You may choose to spend some time in solitude, allowing yourself to freely vent your emotions. Or, you may think of a new way to honor your loved one’s memory this year, such as taking a bouquet to the graveside or working on a special memorial project. Try to avoid stressful situations (such as the grocery store aisle with all those pink cards and candy boxes) as much as possible.

Tell your story

Every grief journey is different, and there’s no “right” way to grieve. But it is important to talk about your loss. Find someone you trust – a friend, spouse, family member – who will wholeheartedly listen to your story. Your relationship with your child or your mother doesn’t end with death – that relationship continues on in you. By sharing how you loved them, how they impacted you, the difference they made in your life, you keep your loved one’s memory alive. But also, by telling your story, you allow others into your life and offer them an opportunity to comfort and support you.

Journal about how you are feeling

Grief journals allow you an honest, private, and judgment-free place to process your thoughts. Write down everything you are feeling about your loss. Anger, sadness, and things left unsaid, along with gratitude, appreciation, and memories. Don’t leave anything out. Sometimes the most painful part of loss is knowing that there will be moments you never will share with a loved one. Our hopes and dreams and expectations are dashed in a moment, especially with the loss of a child or a mother much too early. Write down all your hopes and expectations so you can see them in black and white. Sometimes simply acknowledging your hopes can help you come to grips with your feelings and help you work toward releasing them and finding a measure of peace.

Honor the other mothers in your life

For those of you whose mother is no longer here, you may have one or two women in your life who have been like a mother to you. It could be a teacher, a mentor, a colleague, a leader in your faith group, or a close and trusted friend. Honor these women by acknowledging the contribution that they have made to your life! This activity can also apply to someone who has lost a child. Have any of your child’s friends continued to be close to you and your family following the loss? Make sure to tell them how much their continued presence means to you.

Pay a special tribute to your loved one

Some people work out their grief by finding an activity or creative outlet. Art therapy can be very helpful in processing emotions. You may like to paint, woodwork, quilt, crochet, sew, scrapbook, or make a video slideshow, to name a few. No matter what you choose to do, you can make it especially meaningful when you share it with others as a memorial gift. Another way to honor your loved one’s memory is through giving back. Volunteering for a beloved charity or giving back through memorial gifts can be a special way to pay tribute to a loved one.

Talk to a professional

All grief is difficult, and some grief is unbearable. If you are stuck beneath a heavy burden of grief, perhaps it’s time to visit a counselor or therapist. There is no shame in seeking professional help. We all go to the doctor for a physical checkup and we all have our annual dentist appointment, so why shouldn’t everyone have a professional to watch over their mental health? A grief counselor or psychologist could be a helpful resource and might provide useful tips for battling grief. Perhaps you could use this season to plan a session. Talking to an educated, informed individual about problems that he or she has some perspective on couldn’t hurt. Why not give it a try?

Do something that you enjoy

Participate in an activity that you enjoy. Your mother or child would want you to be happy. You may feel guilty about feeling happiness – like it’s an emotion you no longer have a right to feel. But that’s not true. It’s not a betrayal to find hope and joy, and any loving child or mother would want you to find these things again. Oblige them by doing something that gives you joy. Hang out with friends, go to the movies, or buy yourself a treat. Do something relaxing or find an opportunity to laugh. Honor your loved one by living the life you have been given and treating yourself the way that they would treat you.