Grief & Despair - How to Survive the Holidays
December 8, 2020 - Episode #44 - Grief & Despair - How to Survive the Holidays
Grief, despair, loneliness….these feelings can certainly be ignited during any holiday season. This year feels especially overwhelming. And why wouldn’t it? We are all grieving. Whether it is a death, the loss of income and security or just the loss of how we used to live our life. The grief and despair can be pervasive! So, what do we do? How do we cope? That’s what we are talking about today on the Healthy Harmony podcast.
Listen in as I share what I've learned after losing my mom and some coping tips for any of us on a grief journey. I hope these simple suggestions bring you some hope and encouragement during this rough time. If you are struggling, please know that you are not alone.
Before you go my friend, please don’t forget my FREE gift for you...a Holiday Survival Guide to help you Beat Stress, Combat Cravings and Stay Joyful this season. It is just for those of you who want to shift from barely surviving the holidays to truly thriving. For those who are sick and tired of looking up and it’s January 1 and you have done it again. You are a burned out, stressed out wreck with extra weight. This simple Holiday Survival Guide is just what you are looking for and it’s free. Go to bit.ly/2020holidaysurvivalguide to download this right now.
In your gift, I have a Holiday special. This special is $48 off a virtual, 1-hour, health coaching call. This special expires tomorrow, Wednesday, December 9th and I don’t want you to miss out.
I’m looking forward to giving you that personalized help and support that you have been looking for.
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December 8, 2020 - Episode #44 - Grief & Despair - How to Survive the Holidays
Grief, despair and loneliness. These feelings can certainly be ignited during any holiday season. And this year it feels especially overwhelming.
We're all grieving.
Whether it's a death, the loss of income and security or the loss of how we used to live our life. The grief and despair can be pervasive. So what do we do? How do we cope? That's what we're talking about today on Healthy Harmony.
Hey there. Welcome to the Healthy Harmony podcast. I'm Jennifer Pickett, your host, your health coach, your friend. If you're ready to tap into the healthiest version of you so you can live life with confidence and intentional harmony. Then my friend you're in the right place. As a Dietitian turned Functional Medicine Health Coach, I’m here to walk beside you and show you how to take control of your complete health.. body, mind, and soul.
Before we go any farther, please, please do not forget my free gift for you. This special gift is a holiday survival guide to help you beat stress, combat cravings, and stay joyful this season. It is just for those of you who want to shift from barely surviving the holidays to truly thriving. For those of you who are sick and tired of looking up and it's January one and you've done it again. You're a burned out, stressed out wreck with extra weight. This gift is just for you. This simple holiday survival guide is what you're looking for and it's free. So go to bit.ly/2020holidaysurvivalguide to download this right now, my friend. Okay, now in that gift, I'm running a holiday special, a holiday coaching special. This special is $48 off a virtual health coaching call. This special expires tomorrow, on Wednesday, and I want to make sure that you do not miss out. So go to bit.ly/2020holidaysurvivalguide, download your free gift and access the link with your holiday special right there. And I'm looking forward to giving you that personalized, help and support that you've been looking for.
So today is another tough subject to discuss, and I'm going to be honest. It is one that is really full of emotions for me. So, um, I'm just going to jump right in. I'm no stranger to grief. I lost my sweet mom to it's been almost eight years ago and I have walked many, many cancer journeys with friends and loved ones. I lost my dear friend, Manda Maxwell, a very young mom after being by her side throughout her very, very long cancer journey with sarcoma. My husband has now lost both of his parents, his mom and his dad. And that means my children have seen a tremendous grief. They only have one grandparent left. Yeah. We're no strangers to grief. And the holidays, it always seems to compound that grief, whether it's just challenging times or seeing certain decorations or certain memories, it just compounds the grief. So that's why I felt like it was so important to do this podcast because I know that there are so many people like me and my family that you're struggling. And the main purpose of this is I want you to know you're not alone. I've learned throughout my life that we can relate to each other more in our struggles, not necessarily in our strengths and what we're great at, but more in our struggles.
And I have certainly learned from my mistakes and not managing grief well and how that caused me health problems. Because my tendency is to stifle the grief, ignore the grief, shove it deep down, not address it, and then put a mask in place and act like I've got it all together. And I'm happy and everything is just fun. So I've learned that grief must be addressed. It must be managed. It must be worked through and it needs to be done in a healthy manner. So that's what we're talking about today.
You know, I learned so much from my mom. So if I could dedicate a podcast episode, this podcast episode would be dedicated to my mom.
Cecilia Bradley George.
Okay, my mom, everybody called her, no one can say Cecilia, so everybody called her CiCi or C for short.
My mom was sweet. She was a little crazy and silly. She had this wonderful sense of humor and, um, she just loved to encourage others. She loved it. She was really good at it too.
She's one of the main reasons that I keep going and I keep moving forward with trying to have my own business. And it's not easy, just there's good times. And there's really, really difficult and awful times. And there's so many times I just want to give up and I hear her saying, Jennifer, keep going, keep encouraging. I hear her say, you go girl. So the reason you're hearing this podcast is a lot of her. It's a lot of her encouraging me to keep encouraging others. That's why I do the podcast. Uh, not just to add so I can say I have one. Just so I can encourage others with what I've learned and the knowledge that I've gained through my experience and health and wellness and, and just what I've learned through my own struggles with my health, both physical health, mental, and emotional health and spiritual health. So when you guys message me and you tell me how a podcast has encouraged you, how it has resonated with you, please know that it means the absolute world to me. When you subscribe to the podcast and you leave a review, man, that is so affirming that I need to keep going, that I need to keep empowering and keep encouraging.
So Christmas always brings up a lot of memories about mom, because mom was all about the fun and having a party and she loved to give gifts. And so here's a little Christmas story about my mom. Now, my mom loved to give presents. Now we never had a lot of money. My mom came from a very large family of eight kids. So, they grew up in a very poor household, even though her mom and dad did a good job of providing so they could eat. I mean, there was not much beyond that. So my mom did not get a college education. Um, and she was a homemaker her whole life, but my mom could take a cheap gift and make it look like the most extravagant, fancy gift in the world. Like, it came from Saks Fifth Avenue. I mean, whatever fancy store you can think of.
That's what the, her presents would look like. So one day I was at home and this is as, as I was an adult and I had moved away from home, but I was at home visiting my mom and she was dressed and ready to walk out the door. And she's carrying this gorgeously wrapped, extravagant, fancy gift. And so I assumed she was going to meet a friend for brunch and exchange gifts. And, um, I asked her where she was going to, who she was meeting. And she said, well, you know, I've gotten to know the lady, um, at McDonald's the one that works in the drive-through and she gets me my coffee, and I just thought she needed a Christmas gift. Y'all my sweet mama got to know the lady in the McDonald's drive through because she served her coffee and she figured she needed a Christmas gift! That has stuck with me for years. Just telling you brings a huge smile to my face. So I want us to talk about how to manage grief during the holidays. How do we, how do we power through, how do we get through this? And is there a healthy way to do this? So we're going to talk about eight keys to managing grief during the holidays.
Number one, it's okay to not be okay. This is tough. One for me. I told you, my tendency is I'm going to put on a mask and act like everything's just fine. It's almost like a little bit of a badge of honor, like something horrible happens. And I'm just going to put on that happy mask and act like I've got it all together. I'm just fine. I'm coping. Well, I'm going to tell you, this is real life and grief is hard and it is ugly. And it is so very difficult and challenging. We do not have to have it all together. We're not supposed to have it all together, but somehow we think we're supposed to have it all together. And then we need to splash the pictures on social media and act like we have it all together and everything's picture perfect. And that is not reality. In fact, it's killing us, trying to keep up this awful façade. So just know that nobody has it all together. I don't care what their Facebook or Instagram looks like. Nobody has it all together and it's okay to not be okay.
Number two, give yourself permission to grieve. And man, there is a lot to grieve right now. It's okay to grieve. It's healthy to grieve. So we need to face the grief. Give yourself a moment, several moments; discuss the memories that bring a smile to your face. So just a little story here. Um, this happened last year, I've got two kids and my son, last year was 12. And, I was decorating and I was just struggling. I mean, it seems like every time I opened up a decoration, you know, I looked at something that would remind me of mom. It just brought another wave of tears now. I don't typically, I just am not a big, I don't cry a whole lot and I'm not saying that's healthy. I'm just, it's not something that it's just not in my nature. So I usually try to stifle it, which is not very healthy. But, um, in this case I just, everything I'd pull something out, you know, it would just bring another wave of tears. And I pulled out this little snow woman doll, and this is from years ago and it was something my mother had purchased and it was something that if anybody else looked at it, it would be like so silly. Like why did you even purchase that? But it's the snow woman and she's holding little snowballs and there's a little point attached and it's the cutest point. And it was a point written by my mom. And y'all when I say I lost it. I mean, I lost it. It was like the, it was, I just couldn't, I couldn't handle anymore. And so I stood there and I was sobbing and my son walked up and he said, mama, what's, what's wrong. What's going on? Are you okay? And I just, again, I couldn't pull it together to even say I was okay and I just cried some more. And I said, I miss my mama. I just miss my mama! And my son, my 12 year old son stopped what he was doing. And he came and wrapped his arms around his mama and he just hugged me. And he let me cry in that moment. I had to be real. I had to be honest about what was going on instead of just stifling the tears. And it also gave him an opportunity to show his mama some empathy. And it was such a beautiful moment. And you know what? That sweet boy, he probably doesn't even remember, but man, I will never, ever forget that. So give yourself permission to grieve. Tell the stories, discuss the memories, show someone else, some empathy that has gone through the same loss that you have. Think about what would be healing for you.
Number three, let go of the guilt and the shame. This is a tough one. We all have it, but y’all, we think about what we could have done, what we should have done, what we should have said, but I'm going to tell you, you cannot hit rewind. You can't go back to last week. Last month, last year, three years ago, five years ago! Of course we would have done things differently if we had known, but we can't hit rewind. And when we live in the past and when we are completely mired down by guilt and the shame we cannot move forward, it's a trap. It's like those big, heavy leg irons around your legs. You can't move forward. When you're stuck with the guilt and the shame. There's always going to be conversations that we wish we had had actions that we wish we had taken, but we cannot dwell on the past. All we can do is change how we do things in the future. Maybe watch our words. Be a little more cautious when we're making a decision. Maybe be a little bit better about showing gratitude and kindness to those in our life that we love. So let go of the guilt and the shame so you can move forward.
Number four, seek help. This is a tough one. And I'm going to tell you, uh, after being a healthcare professional for many, many, many, many years, it's a tough one for me. I'm usually the last one to ask for help. Cause again, I'll want you to think I have it all together and I will tell you I don't. So, where this was most prevalent is again after I lost mom and keep in mind that when I lost my mom, I had worked in healthcare, in oncology for years, but I had also worked in cancer ministry, meaning I had walked this journey with many, many other people, helping them navigate their cancer journey. Um, and so I felt like I know what to do. You know, I've, I've helped coach other people, so they know what to do during the cancer journey. And then after that journey is over how to grieve and how to mourn that loss.
And so I kinda thought I know what to do, so I'm fine. I've got this. It wasn't until I was facing my first Christmas without my mother that I realized I'm not doing so good. I don't have this. And so I went to counseling and it was just so beneficial for me, that grief counseling. Which by the way, I discovered my insurance covers five issues, five visits per issue. So I was like, well, heck I got a lot more than five issues, but I'll take the top five issues. So it was grief counseling. And then I got to address some other issues that hey, I needed to address. So I'm such a big, huge fan of counseling. And I have no idea why it has this huge stigma with it. But the reality is that we all need help and support. I don't care who you are. So get some help, whether it's a pastor, a counselor, a health coach, a life coach y'all, and I'm going to tell you, it really does help if that someone is a trained professional, okay. An influencer is not necessarily a trained professional. And so sometimes we kind of lean on our friends, but your friends may not have the, quite the skills or the coping mechanisms that they need to empower you with. So it really does help if that help is a trained professional.
Number five, where is your hope? You know, as I've gone through tremendous sufferings and struggles in my life, um, this is where my faith really comes in. This is where it's really, it's really tested, you know? Outside of me getting some help from a counselor, I'm going to tell you my main help comes from above. And I can tell you that my faith has been strengthened during times of tremendous pain and suffering. And I've learned that God can handle my emotions and my honesty. He knows me better than anyone. And as I focus on my relationship with my Lord and Savior, I've seen how God gives me exactly what I need for that day. And it's up to me to trust in him daily. And I don’t have to figure it all out. I just need to trust in Him for that day. You know, I've seen how God would give me just through, uh, you know, a simple, quiet time and reading a devotional.. like a scripture that would just resonate with me. Like it never had before. You know, one of those is in Deuteronomy that verse, it says, I'll never leave you. I'll never forsake you. And as I've gone through struggles, I have seen that.
Here's something else that I've seen and where God's given me hope. Um, when my mom was in the hospital and at the very end of her life, she was in the hospital for a full month. When I tell you, and I won't go into all the details, but when I tell you this was my living nightmare, it was my living nightmare because her, uh, liver specialist was not communicating. He would not answer my questions. It was my nightmare. And so I was at the hospital and I had stepped out in the hall and I wasn’t crying, but I don't know what kind of look I had on my face, but I was under great stress and, um, overwhelm! And this, I remember this man walked by and he, he asked me how I was doing. And I, very quickly, said the standard…Fine, How are you? And he walked off. I don't know how much time passed but it wasn't long, but this man came back and he handed me this little metal cross. That cross says, Jesus saves. I don't know who this man is. And I don't know how that came about, but y'all to this day, I carry that little cross in my pocket. And when things get rough, I just remember whose child I am and I'm a child of the King. And I remember that he's in control and that my hope is in Him. So, I will never forget that little cross and that moment and how God reminded me that He was right there beside me.
You know, another scripture that I want you to hear, because this is a scripture that I was reminded of as I went through that with mom. And it says, it continues to be one of my favorites. And it's found in John 14:27, and it says…Peace. I leave with you my peace. I give you, I do not give to you as the world gives, do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid. Those are words of hope. And so my hope comes from above.
Number six, don't neglect self care. I know it's okay. You can roll your eyes. I almost roll my eyes when I say that, because it is so cliché. It is so cliché. We see all the health experts talking, excuse me, we don't see all the health experts talking about it. We see the influencers, the wellness influencers talking about it. Um, the health experts don't say, self care. In fact, they just talk about medicines, but that's another episode. So this is so cliché, but the reality is that our tendency, when we're going through tremendous grief and despair is to kind of turtle in, okay. Do you know what I mean? When I say turtle in you kind of withdraw and to yourself, and then you find yourself turning to things that are not good to numb the pain. Things like food and alcohol, because our tendency is that emotional eating and drinking. We're just trying to numb the pain. We're just trying to make ourselves feel good in the moment. And what we don't realize is that we're not solving the problem. In fact, we're creating more problems. So don't neglect self care, and y'all, I'm talking about not the extremes, just the common sense self-care… drinking some more water, just being mindful when you're turning to food and alcohol to numb the pain, getting a little bit of movement in, eating some vegetables, getting some sleep, doing some deep breathing. A little bit of self care can go a long way.
Number seven, remember the precious old memories and create new memories. You know, um, I just think of a cute story here. As we get to be adults and my sister and I, we have, um, five kids between us. She’s got three. She has got twins that are now in middle school. My son's in middle school. My daughter's a sophomore and then Lane, my nephew he's the oldest. He is a junior. So these kids have always been stair steps. So you can imagine when we were, when they were young, uh, and we would all get together in Alabama. And then it was just, it was a hootenanny. Does anybody else use that word by the way? It was just a hoot. So we always had traditions. We'd have matching pajamas and one year Stephanie and I decided. My sister and I decided we were going back to our roots of being cheerleaders. Oh yeah. And we were going to make up a dance routine to the one and only...All I want for Christmas is you by Mariah Carey. Oh yes. And we practice it and we rehearsed it. And then we put on our little show. Y'all my mom, this video is absolutely precious. And I mean precious because, my mom. You hear my mom's voice in the video. You see us dancing and you hear my mom laughing and cheering. Her middle aged daughters are doing a dance routine. And my mother is so proud, like so proud of us and she's yelling out and cheering us on. Like so proud. I mean, you go girl, like she's cheering and she's laughing. I mean, the look of pure joy on her face because her middle age girls have gone back and are doing a dance routine to a Christmas song. And then of course, we wrapped up that Christmas song by getting our very young daughters involved at the moment at which point Maddie completely took over and stole the show. But that is such a precious memory to me because of just the joy of all my mother's face as we did this, this routine.
So as we remember precious old memories, what are those, what are those memories that just bring a smile to your face? Can you focus on those memories? You know, my tendency sometimes as I just kind of turtle in a little bit is to feel sorry for myself. Um, and to get bitter at all the other people who had their mama. But my tendency is to feel sorry for myself. That I don't have that anymore. That I don't have my mom here on earth anymore. And so I've learned that that's, uh, that's not a good place for me to be, and it's okay for me to grieve and have a moment, even a few moments. It's not okay to go down into that really dark hole and not come out because my kids need me. I have a short time left with them at home. And you know what? I know exactly what my mother would tell me to do. She would say, have fun! Live life to the fullest, Jennifer don't hold back. She would remind me to love big. She'd say, Hey girl, put on some music and dance because life is short and you never know when it's going to end. So it was just a reminder to me, remember those precious old memories that bring a smile to your face, spend some time reminiscing and create some new memories. It's so important.
Number eight, our last one, help someone else. You know, grief and despair just feels lonely. It makes us feel like we're the only one suffering. We're the only ones struggling. And I'm going to tell you, we're not!
Remember I'm a health coach. I'm talking to people every single day. The struggle is overwhelming. So many people are suffering right now. I promise you're not the only one. And I don't say that to diminish your suffering, but I want you to know that you're not alone. So reach out, encourage someone else today. Here's something. Is there someone that you may to extend forgiveness? Is there someone that you need to ask forgiveness and say, I'm sorry. Who can you be kind to today? You'll be amazed at how much better you feel. Kindness and expressing gratitude. It has tremendous health benefits. And sometimes we just forget, you know, it's good for others and it is really, really good for you. So reach out and help someone else today.
As we wrap up, I'm going to remind you, you're not alone in your struggles, in your grief, in your despair. I know how lonely it can feel. I know the reality of struggling deep down while having a stupid, happy mask in place. And it's exhausting and y'all all we can't keep doing it. It doesn't work like that.
We're continuing this discussion in a bonus podcast on Friday. And this bonus podcast is with my pastor Ryan Ross. And we are tackling again this big subject of managing grief during the holidays. So please, please do not miss that. That is this Friday.
And before you go, I do want to remind you one more time of that holiday special so that if you've been looking for the support of an expert, a trained health coach, and you want that at a discounted rate, you can access that at bit.ly/2020holidaysurvivalguide.
And by the way, any time I gave you like a show notes, and anytime I gave you like links to podcasts or resources, that is all in the show notes. Now the show notes are on the website, inspirehealthyharmony.com. So when I'm telling you where to go or what to click on, you can always find that really, really easy on the website inspirehealthyharmony.com.
So I hope that you have seen, or I hope that you have found that this was some encouragement for you today. I hope that you feel like you're not alone. Take it one step at a time. One day at a time you've got this. I'll talk to you soon. Bye y'all.