Dear COPE Families,

Can we grieve and also embrace the holidays?

I contemplated this question as I listened to a recent interview entitled “Losing a Child” that featured COPE’s clinical director, Amy Olshever, and a bereaved mother from Colorado.  Especially during the holidays, I urge you to listen to their conversation and consider some of the ways we can take better care of ourselves.

Whether our losses are more recent, or many years along, holidays often bring up sadness and longing for our loved ones. While we may engage in activities that bring us healing, we are never fully healed. We are constantly learning to live with our pain of physical separation while trying to find a new relationship with ourselves and with our loved one who has passed.

It is up to each of us to ask for what we need and to be with those with whom we trust and feel safe. Rather than be with those who judge our ability to move on, we can choose to be with those who understand that our needs may change from moment to moment.

Holidays can bring triggers that break open our scars, while at the same time, if we’re able to give ourselves permission, there can be parts of holidays that bring us comfort.

Cindy Weaver, the bereaved parent who was interviewed, relates an ongoing dialogue in her head between two characters, Life & Grief, that represents her internal struggle. She refers to it as a tug of war.

Grief says, This is too tragic; you can’t be happy.

Life says, I want to live.

Grief says, No, you can’t.

And the conversation continues back and forth while they’re slowly moving closer to each other.

Then Grief says, It’s okay for you to live.

And Life says, It’s okay for you to grieve for the rest of your life.

And they walk away holding hands.

We don’t have to wait for grief to be done to live. We live AND we grieve. We grieve AND we live.  Wherever we are is where we need to be…

Wishing you strength to move gently through the holidays…