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It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year….

December 18th, 2014 by judytalks

For most people.

For someone who’s grieving. it’s awful.

It’s difficult to be joyful when there are tears streaming down your face, and there’s an acute ache in your heart.

The secret is to let it happen. People who love you will understand, and the rest don’t matter right now.

Besides, it’s not healthy to suppress your feelings. Grief has to be felt and expressed. It’s the way to heal.

This Holiday season, try adding one new tradition to your life. You can designate a remembrance to your loved one – like a new ornament for the tree.  Or just start something that sounds interesting – like making a gingerbread house.

When Good Tidings are all around you, it lifts your spirits, if only for a moment.

Have a wonderful season of joy.

Judy

 

The Changing Face of Grief Recovery

February 28th, 2014 by judytalks

The Changing Face of Grief Recovery
When I was widowed twenty-three years ago, I had a difficult time finding a grief group. The Yellow Pages yielded nothing, friends had no ideas, and the church I attended at the time had none. I finally called the mortuary that had handled my husband’s services, and they told me they had a group that met on the premises. Perhaps they had mentioned it in one of our conversations, but I didn’t remember. I was given the necessary information as to the format – small and led by survivors – the meeting time and the room in the lower level where they gathered. I began attending at the next meeting.
It was small and informal, but yielded good results. Attendance included five to ten persons who sat around a table with a leader and simply shared how the week had gone. You could talk as much as you wished, but needed to take turns at first. Others would respond with general ideas, but didn’t give advice or express negative remarks. Sometimes we cried, sometimes we laughed. The general rule is that each person’s way of mourning is entirely theirs and is respected. Grief groups don’t cancel meetings for holidays; in fact, those are the times most necessary for getting together.
I attended the group every week for six months until I was ready to be on my own. I felt then, and feel today that the group helped me immensely. I only wished there had been a group for teens and children.
Today there are many choices for help with the grieving process. Groups may be small and informal or large, organized, and managed by professionals in the field. There are centers for grieving children, (I facilitated at one for two years), camps, ongoing support groups led by survivors, and workshops that cover many issues.
It makes me more than glad that this most important part of life is being acknowledged and dealt with considerately and efficiently. If you’ve been helped by such a group or facility, pass on the good word.
Judy

The Time to Celebrate in a Time of Sorrow

December 7th, 2013 by judytalks

That time of year is here again. The Holidays are upon us, bringing excitement and chaos, memories and tears. The busyness of these weeks may keep our minds focused on the traditions we celebrate, but when bereavement accompanies you every day, there’s a dull ache that won’t go away. Friends and family want you to share in the joy of the holidays, and may flood you with places to go and things to do. Keeping the spirit alive is their goal and, though well-meant, they don’t understand that this year, and maybe for many years, a somber note clouds over the festivities.
How can you help yourself or someone else to celebrate your cherished traditions while mourning a loved one? Remember that this is your holiday to commemorate as you wish. It may not resemble anything you’ve done before, but you can establish new traditions, join others or be by yourself, or simply stroll through public places listening to the music and feeling the energy of people who are making merry. Decide ahead of time what you’ll do if sadness overtakes you, and make a list of gifts to give yourself this year. These gifts may include a cup of coffee and ice cream, an ornament for yourself or your loved one, a phone call to someone you haven’t talked to for a long time, or connecting with a neighborhood group distributing toys or food baskets.
The pain of loss will be with you for a long time, and missing your loved one may seem unbearable. If being with large groups is difficult, invite a few people who are close to you, serve simple food, and relax together. A sense of quiet peace and joy emerges from the gentle touch of those who truly comfort.
This may be a time of sorrow for others you know, and planning an outing might be the perfect solution for meeting and greeting, without having to answer endless questions of how you are doing. Plays and concerts are abundant and many are free or cost little. A chili supper and game night or dessert and coffee spread warmth around and nourish body and soul.
The need for comfort for yourself or a friend can occur anytime of the year, but the holidays are especially difficult. The gift of time and a listening ear are at the top of everyone’s list. Put on your Santa hat and feel the joy.
I wish you well,
Judy

December 24, 2012

December 24th, 2012 by judytalks

It’s the day before Christmas, all is quiet, and family plans for Skyping are being finalized. This is the first year ever that all or most of us are not together.

If you forgot to buy books this year, it’s not too late! Two informative, comforting paperbacks, No Time to Grieve and A Child’s Grief are available, as are two Kindle editions of timely information about Money. Getting Your Affairs in Order and It’s Your Money Take Charge of It are handy and affordable. Give yourself or someone else the gift of practical knowledge this Christmas. All are topics that affect our lives, and knowledge is golden.

Go to www.amazon.com/author/judystrong. The items are listed with prices and a short description.

Have a wonderful holiday!

Judy

Do You Hear What I Hear?

December 7th, 2012 by judytalks

It’s the season to be jolly – and busy – the time of year when everyone spreads good cheer. Busy people are sometimes grumpy people, but this year I’m hearing sounds of laughter, singing in malls, offers of helpfulness, and acknowledgement of the simple pleasures of the season.

I’m a grief writer, so I’m always concerned about those who have lost a loved one, and find the Holidays difficult. There are many good ideas for giving yourself or someone else comfort while also celebrating with friends and family. There are articles on various websites, including mine, that offer personal ways to experience joy along with some sadness. Here are a few ideas to get you started.

This year, start a new tradition or gift of giving in your loved one’s name.
Make or buy an ornament with the person’s name and/or picture for the tree.
Write a letter or card, telling that person how much they are missed.

Remember that the Holidays will never be quite the same, but your celebration needn’t be without peace or joy. Memories are bittersweet. Have a gift under the tree for your loved one, and one for yourself from him or her. Love doesn’t die. Nurture your spirit and the spirit of the Holiday.

Season’s Greetings,
Judy

Count Your Blessings

November 20th, 2012 by judytalks

The turkey is defrosting in the fridge, the house is almost cleaned, and one more trip to the stored should wrap it up. My guests this year are from our Flying Solo group, all missing loved ones and all anticipating sharing a traditional Thanksgiving dinner.

This is the beginning of the holiday season, a time when those who have had a disaster, a death, or are far away from loved ones may find it difficult to count their blessings. Perhaps just being alive is all you can name.

It’s been said that traditions keep a society stable and secure. That’s a tall order for a turkey to deliver, but I believe it’s true. Remembering the celebrations from your childhood can give one a sense of belonging and peace. Yours may have been a quiet family that enjoyed the food with little conversation, or it may have been a yearly opportunity to hold noisy conversations. Regardless, connecting with family and friends maintains ties that are hard to break, especially in the wake of tragedy.

There will be many this Thanksgiving who are bereaved and may want to be alone. Invite them anyway, for coffee and dessert, if not a whole meal. Ot call them sometime during the day and just chat. It’s hard to celebrate without that irreplaceable person in your life. You can always invite them for dinner the next day for turkey sandwiches and leftover pie.

Count your blessings, even if it’s only one or two.

Happy Thanksgiving

Judy

Pain Management

November 13th, 2012 by judytalks

The pain of grief is hard to treat. There is no medicine, no magic wand that makes the hurt go away.

As the holidays approach, the fact of loss becomes more acute, and deciding what to do can boggle the mind. If you are in bereavement right now, do you have plans? Can you celebrate the holidays and still grieve your loved one?

Our Flying Solo group discussed a wide range of feelings and options. For some, it’s just getting through the day. This is especially hard the first few years, when celebrating is unthinkable. Those with family have mixed emotions. Being with loved ones is comforting, but also busy. Spending the day alone was first choice for some, though the day inevitably gets long and lonely.

For thanksgiving, some will come to my house for a traditional dinner. It will be relatively quiet and – Good Grief! – no football. Maybe we’ll play a game, maybe just talk.

Some ideas for you to consider:
If you’re invited but don’t want to stay long, just go for pie.
Invite someone to your house.
Invite a friend for a movie and dessert.
Make some traditional foods, enjoy, and have leftovers.
Spend some quiet time remembering the joy of celebrating with your loved one. It will be sad, but you’ll probably cry anyway. Write down the best memories and put them in your treasure chest of things worth keeping.

I wish you well,
Judy
.

The Gathering

December 22nd, 2011 by judytalks

Home for the Holidays is a familiar tradition that brings family members together to celebrate the holidays they hold dear. My family gathering begins today, as a couple of my grown children and spouse arrive for a few days of reconnecting and sharing memories, and catching up on the news. It’s amazing that conversations seem to pick up where they left off, and everyone takes comfort in being welcomed and appreciated.

The best family tradition is that of being together and keeping the activities simple. It’s a time to relax, laugh, and exchange the gift of mutual appreciation.

I hope your family gathering is joyous and satisfying.

A very happy holiday to you all,

Judy

The Gift of Giving

December 12th, 2011 by judytalks

The time of year for gift giving has arrived. I’ve never shopped on Black Friday and I never will. Couldn’t get me near a mall! But the joy of remembering those we love and who matter to us prevails. I like to spend some time and give thought for the gift I give each one on my list. Spending money is an option. But a sincere and heartfelt gift is often the one you make for a close friend or family member.

The gift of something homemade is usually kept for a long time. Children make gifts in school or at home and the parents keep them in a box for years. I have ornaments on my tree that were made in the 1970’s and ’80’s. Some show signs of wear, but they’ve held up amazingly well. They don’t glitter or shine, but are familiar remembrances to my family of their growing years.

The baked goods we make every year, and only this time of year, speak of tradition, and remind me of the years when my children “helped” me in the kitchen. Eggshells in the batter (they pulverize instantly and there’s no getting them out), too much salt, forgotten flavoring, and lopsided banana bread managed to be consumed, at least a little. One year we had peanut butter cookies sprinkled with red and green sugar, and they tasted great!

Whether you shop, bake, cut and glue, or just invite folks over for cider and conversation, the gift of giving brings warmth and joy, and keeps us connected.

Happy Holidays
Judy

Thanksgiving

November 24th, 2011 by judytalks

It’s Thanksgiving, the day to gather with family, friends, or quietly be alone to remember the good things in life. It’s hard to give thanks when there’s loss all around us, but the support of friends and the comfort of simplicity is something to celebrate.

Have a wonderful day.

Judy

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