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In the holiday classic, “How the Grinch Stole Christmas!” a curmudgeon green Grinch learns that Christmas really resides in the heart. But what if said heart is broken?

Navigating the holidays after the loss of a loved one is stepping carefully through a minefield of emotions. Navigating the holidays after the loss of a loved one while parenting young children—well, that’s nearly indescribable.

It’s a delicate balance of sobbing in showers after lovingly baking cookies. It’s pulling yourself up from your bootstraps to enjoy holiday classics, singing words of joy and hope, and wrapping countless presents with abandon, while nursing a broken heart. It’s about being there for your kids unconditionally, when you are barely there for yourself.

Long after the last cookie has been eaten, the last present has been unwrapped, and the last sparkling light has faded, the pain of loss still lingers.

Miraculously, after the holidays there is some solace in knowing that a new year is just on the horizon. While countless memes and jokes exist about the ridiculousness of New Year’s resolutions, for those of us left behind, a new year affords us the opportunity to begin a journey toward healing.

As I begin my own new journey, I choose to focus renewed attention on me. Here are some tips I plan to follow in the coming year:

  • Self-Care: The first thing to go after a loss is the sense of caring for oneself. Eating well falls by the wayside, the gym becomes a place you once knew, and you find yourself caught in a cycle of wanting to be better but not knowing where to start. Exercise improves moods, relieves stress, creates a sense of well-being, and provides the needed “me” time needed to recover. Take the time to find the program that is right for you and best meets your schedule.
  • The Whole You: Beyond the physical are the emotional, mental, social, spiritual and environmental influences that impact your day-to-day health. An integrative medicine program can help you create a customized treatment plan to achieve optimal health and wellness. This can include acupuncture, health coaching, nutritional counseling, movement therapy and more.
  • Express Yourself: Writing down your thoughts and feelings can help you to understand them more clearly. Learn how to keep a journal to help you establish order when your world feels like it’s in chaos.
  • Your Health, Your Way: Get the annual physical. Make the annual appointments. Stay on top of your own health so you can be the best and healthiest version of you for yourself and your loved ones.

Loss is an inevitable facet of life, but through resilience I believe it is truly possible to find peace. The most important lesson I am learning through my own journey is that in the face of loss, we mustn’t lose ourselves. If we’re lucky, like the Grinch, our own hearts may grow three sizes once again.

“Grief is like the ocean; it comes on waves ebbing and flowing. Sometimes the water is calm, and sometimes it is overwhelming. All we can do is learn to swim.”–Vicki Harrison

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Comment by Meghan Higgins on December 30, 2016 at 9:49am

Such a good post and great tips to take into the new year. 

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