Acknowledging Grief During The Holidays Is Brave

Acknowledging Grief During The Holidays Is Brave

Grief - it's sometimes an uninvited holiday guest


My Dad says some pretty profound stuff sometimes, and he said something amazing to me three years ago. We were sitting in a restaurant that had peanuts littering the floor and cold air blasting me from behind with a lot of my cousins in southern Missouri.

We had gotten on the topic of death and mourning, and he said that grief is like a suitcase.

"Somedays, it's really heavy and you have to carry it with you throughout your day. Other times, the suitcase is light and you leave it at home. Occasionally, you ask someone else to help you carry the weight. It just depends on the day."

I looked at him with wide eyes while he talked. I had taken a "Death, Suffering and Healing" class in high school, but none of the talks ever included information like that. I received countless stories about the process of dealing with death, and we even watched this ridiculously funny movie called Death at a Funeral (I highly suggest it).

I took the class because I realized someday in the future, I would also have to start grieving people - maybe the loss of friends from cancer, my grandparents, and someday (far far far in the future I hope) my own parents.

The holidays are tough for a lot of people, especially those who are mourning the loss of a loved one. What I've gathered from studying about this topic is that grief doesn't have an expiration date.

Even though time (and definitely a lot of faith) does help the healing process, a random day ten years after the death can still hurt just as much as the first day of mourning.

But I don't think that mourning during the holiday season (and in the presence of family and friends) is always a horrible idea.

Mourning during the holiday season has its pros and cons.

A couple of pros are the following:

1. You at least get to spend time with the loved ones that are present.

2. There are a lot of fun holiday activities to do, like sipping hot cocoa, decorating the house, singing silly Christmas carols, donating time at a local food bank or shopping for "Adopt a Family," etc.

3. You probably have a couple of days off from work (and maybe a lot of days off from school!).

But there are also a lot of cons to the holiday season:

1. Feeling sad while in the presence of loved ones could make you feel guilty - and maybe it makes you feel even worse if you break down crying in front of them. Sometimes, it might feel like a crime to be unhappy during a time when you "should" feel happy. The thing about emotions and grief is they kind of have their own schedule.

2. The activities might seem less cheerful because you just wish that person were there.

3. The days when you're not preoccupying your time with a bunch of activities can seem really long, and lead you to have more time to mourn and grieve (which isn't usually a fun activity, which is why I predict some grieving people don't really like to be still for too long).

I wanted to write this article to encourage anyone who is going to go home (or hang out with friends) and deal with grief during this holiday season. I can't really suggest to you a way to mourn perfectly because there isn't one.

What I've heard is that expressing those emotions and thoughts is helpful, either through journalling, songs, talking it out, or dancing.

I pray that you have some fun holiday moments and remember that although feelings are sometimes uncontrollable, our thoughts and coping mechanisms can help those feelings be ordered to make them less overwhelming.

I hope that was helpful, and if it wasn't, let me know. Happy Holidays!

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A Letter To My Elementary School Best Friend

Thank you for your part in my journey.

To this day, some of my favorite memories are the ones we made swinging on the play-set or biking around the neighborhood. It seemed like we could always do whatever we set our little minds to. Not only did we get to grow up together, but we quickly became best friends. You taught me the true meaning of friendship at such a young age, and I am so thankful for that.

I'm so happy you were the one by my side for all of life's first adventures. So many big events happen in elementary school that are truly overlooked. My first crush. Your first crush. Our rock band that had a total audience of 4 (our parents). Many, many, many birthday parties. Intense games of four square on the playground. Riding around on our bicycles feeling like the coolest big kids in the world. Oh, and don't forget when we each entered "womanhood", but were too afraid to tell each other.

Thanks for always being a shoulder to cry on. Like that time I got my hair cut too short and was worried everyone would make fun of me. You were also my celebration partner when I got an A on those tricky mad minutes. I'll always remember our sleepovers where we stayed up all night talking about our little lives. Or the next morning when your mom would make us macaroni and cheese and we would watch t.v. all afternoon.

I remember always wanting to be like you. When you had posters of the Jonas brothers hung all over your room, I suddenly developed a crush on them too. Or when you told me you didn't like Hannah Montana's best friend Lilly, I decided I didn't like her either. We were like two peas in a pod. We rode the bus to school together, had most of the same teachers, and even dressed alike on halloween. I remember wanting to build a tunnel between our two houses, but our parents sadly said no. You can't get much more best friend-like than that.

But out of every adventure we've had, some of my favorite times with you were simply swinging back and forth on my swing-set. I don't know why, but when I think of our friendship, that is what comes to mind. Our deepest talks occurred on the swings, and there is something about having your best friend by your side on a breezy night that is irreplaceable. Those are the memories I love the most.

And even though we have now gone our separate ways, our bonds in childhood are cemented. I'll forever be thankful for the fun times and deep talks we've shared. Thank you for being the best friend a girl could ask for. I'll never forget you or the memories we made.

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What It Is Really Like Having Sisters Close To Your Age

While having siblings close to your age is pretty amazing, there can be a lot of issues that can come with it.


I come from a family of 5 people and 1 dog. I have 2 sisters, Grace and Caroline. We are all pretty close in age, Caroline being the youngest and 3 years younger than me.

My sisters and I share a bond like no one else, no one can replicate it. When you have siblings close to your age you have built-in best friends, and since they are around your age you have the same interest, or at least, enough so that you can do things that other siblings cannot. Examples of this would be seeing R-Rated movies and going to the mall without too much complaining, along with being able to shop in the same stores or even share clothes. Grace and I sometimes even split the cost of a shirt we both like.

We even overlap friend groups! Which is not much of a problem for us, Grace and I are both in music programs which overlap enough for us to have the same friends, which is great for when one of us has a sleepover, the other can join in on the fun. Caroline, however, even though she is seen as the sporty one of the 3 of us, she still has a lot of friends who have similar interests as Grace or I, giving us a lot of the same friends. It's nice not to be considered the "cool older sister", I am just like the rest of them.

While we do fight a lot, we make up really quickly, because most issues we have are stupid sibling fights: who gets the T.V., what to have for dinner, what movie to see. But it is always fun because there are 3 of us, which means majority rules, something we tend to go by most of the time depending on the situation.

Having 3 teenagers in the house can be a handful for our parents though, when you have three teenage girls going through puberty at relatively the same time, it can be grueling, especially when you are all on your period at the same time.. (yes, that has happened before) (and yes, it sucks). While I am on the topic, let's say a prayer and a thank you to my dad for dealing with 5 girls (including the dog, obviously) because he does a pretty damn good job at dealing with all of us.

When we were younger, we always had a play date even when one was canceled. We all made up songs and dances and would perform them for our parents. We even had a band called The Halsey Sisters (AKA the female version of The Jonas Brothers) where we had a hit song called "We Got The Heart and Soul". It was a hell of a time. Let's just say the music video for that song is, interesting to say the least.

At the end of the day, I wouldn't switch my sisters for anything in the world, they are my rocks, and I wouldn't want it any other way, Grace, Caroline, keep doing what you're doing, because you're pretty damn awesome.

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