Page 7 - 2016 Autumn-Winter Issue
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person who died. But we have learned to do it quick before       2. Practice on saying “No.” to the things you do not
the food gets cold. Then, as we’re eating we say, “Remember      want to do. Here are versions of the same message: “No
when. . . ?” Sometimes our food gets a little salty, but it’s    thanks.” “I just can’t.” “I won’t be doing it this year.”
                                                                 “Sorry.” Remember, when you say, “No” you don’t have
worth it. It’s like our son is there with us. The first time we  to give reasons.
did it a couple people were uncomfortable, but once they
got into it, it was OK.
                                                                                   3. Plan ahead. Make yourself sit
                                                                                   down and write out your “Things
A mother whose daughter died          It is a wonderful way to                     to do” list. Then go through it and,
eight years ago suggested the                                                             as mentioned in #1, ask yourself,
following:                                                                                “What can I omit?” Also, arrange
                                                                                          your list in priority fashion to put
talk about her life andA stocking is hung for each                                        the most important things at the
acknowledge what she meantperson in the family, including my                              top of the list.
                                                                                          4. If you must purchase gifts,
daughter. Into her stocking family                                                        ask yourself, “How can I do this
                                                                 with the least amount of stress? For example, consider
to us.members write a note stating what                          using the Internet, having someone else pick up the

she taught them. The notes are
read after dinner. It is a wonderful way to talk about her life
and acknowledge what she meant to us.

A couple whose son died four years ago shares their              gifts, consider giving money or gift cards as gifts, or
experience of the first three years:
                                                                 have a family lottery where each person picks a name
                                                                 from a hat and buys only that person a gift. Try one of
During the first Christmas my daughter thought she would         these ideas this year as an experiment just to see how it
help by keeping me busy shopping for her three children.         works.
There I was pushing a cart with a gift list of toys and tears
streaming down my cheeks. All I wanted to do was crawl           5. Start early. Pick a date to get done many of your
                                                                 obligations now. Don’t put it off. Remember how crazy
in a hole and pull everything with me. I’m not sure how we       last minute stuff can be. You don’t need any more
made it through the holidays, but we eventually realized         craziness in your life.
that things would never be as they were before. The other
family members thought they were helping, but we had to
decide for ourselves what was best. The second Christmas         6. Do not rely on your memory to keep track of things
was the hardest. On Christmas Eve we went to church and          to do in your life. Presume you will forget things and
to the cemetery and on Christmas day we delivered our            write everything down.
gifts and spent the day alone. We were feeling sorry for
ourselves, but that’s all we felt we could do at the time. The       7. Ask yourself, “How can I work smarter, not harder?”
next years we decided to do something for others. I called           8. And finally ask yourself, “In what ways do I wish
the nursing home and asked the director if they needed any           to keep things the same and how do I want to change
help serving the holiday meal. She was very excited to have          things?”
us. A few days before, we had our grandchildren over and         As you finish this article and begin to put it down, you
instead of making cookies, we made table favors, including       might be saying to yourself, “Yes, there were a couple good
cards, candy, and ribbons. On Christmas day we dressed in        ideas. I should do them some time.” Quick! Capture the
our Santa hats and headed to the nursing home. When we           moment now! Tape this article up on your wall so that
arrived, we were greeted with smiling, appreciative faces.       you will see it every day as a reminder of helpful ways to
We served their breakfast and many of the residents took         get through the holidays. I’m willing to bet that your child
                                                                 would agree with me. So, get started, OK?

us back to their rooms to see their gifts and family pictures. Thanks to TCF parents Ann & Neal, Roger & Sue, Joyce, Susan, Denise &
While honoring the memory of our son we forgot our grief Mushroom
that Christmas day.
                                                                 Bob Baugher, Ph.D. is a Psychology Instructor at Highline College in Des

In closing, let me leave you with some holiday stress-           Moines, Washington where he teaches courses in Psychology and Death
relievers:                                                       Education. A professional advisor to the South King County Chapter of The
                                                                 Compassionate Friends, Dr. Baugher has been invited to speak at 20 of TCF

1. There is not enough time for everything. Ask yourself,        National Conferences during the past 25 years. He is the author of several
“What am I willing to give up?” and then, let them go.           books and articles on grief.

                                                                                   We Need Not Walk Alone|7
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