Grief During The Holidays

22 November 2021|Health, Nutrition, Sustainability, Testimonials

Katie Rossler LPC sitting by a river

3 Tools for Your Toolbox This Holiday Season by Katie Rössler, LPC.

‘The holidays are here, and for many of us it’s not the happiest time of year. Sure, the food is yummy, it can be nice to see people we don’t get to see as often, and it’s flattering to be invited to different events…however, real life doesn’t stop. Holidays tend to mean a time of reflection, old memories resurfacing, reminders of those we lost, and highs and low from all the events that send us on a rollercoaster of emotions. 

First, I want to be clear about what I mean when I say “grief.” Grief for a long time has been associated only with death. Unfortunately, because so many of us have held this belief about grief and death, we have missed the other times and experiences in our lives that have created grief and needed tending to. Here is my definition for grief: A mental, emotional, spiritual and physical experience we all go through throughout our lives as we let go of how we thought life “should” or would go and how it actually is. This takes into account health issues, death, loss, moving, broken dreams, relationships ending, trauma, childhood baggage, parenthood challenges, miscarriage and stillbirth, loss of a pet, identity change, and rites of passages. I could add a lot more to that list, but you get the point. Grief isn’t just about death. It’s much bigger. Now that we are on the same page, let’s get to those tools.

1: Simplify

During the holidays we can over pack our schedules, over stuff our bellies, and over do the niceties. This year focus on one word: Simplify. Simplify your schedule by being ok limiting how many things you do in a week and weekend. My best advice is when you receive an invite on the spot let them know you need a day or two to get back to them. This gives you the space to see if you can make that event work. Prioritise the events that mean the most to you…not that mean the most to others. We often say yes because we know it will make the host happy even if we know we won’t enjoy it.

Simplify what you plan to eat around the holiday time. We plan to cook and bake so much that we don’t actually get to enjoy the flavours of each thing. Think about what your favorite meals are and look at how to make them a special experience together with your family. We are a society that likes “more” but by doing so, especially with food, we don’t actually get to enjoy what is in front of us. Last year, my in-law’s brought us Christmas lunch and it was only three items. It was THE BEST three items ever, and my family enjoyed every bite. I didn’t miss a thing, and I was so grateful for the help!

Simplify your list of people you send cards or messages to. Connecting is important, but it doesn’t have to be an all or nothing thing. Take a few days to message or call those friends and family you want to connect with. Were you unable to get holiday cards out this year, though you normally do? It’s ok! Some of my favorite holiday “cards” are in an email form with an update on how the family is doing. Keep it simple with the niceties and release the pressure of the “have to’s.”

Why does this matter when we are grieving? We have enough on our minds and hearts to add more to our holiday plates. By simplifying, it gives us more space to grieve safely and with the people we want to.

2: Get It Out Of Your Head

Have you ever had a huge project to do and you didn’t know where to start? I always go back to the example of cleaning an entire house because we are a family of five and it seems like every weekend is a hamster wheel with needing to clean up again. You look at everything that needs to get done and it is completely overwhelming. So, you avoid, escape and numb. My favorite way to escape is finding another small and totally unimportant project and doing that convincing myself that it’s actually super important and crucial in that moment. Then, I will scroll on my phone and act like I was going to check on something…ultimately forgetting what it was five minutes in.

When we are grieving, especially around the holidays, it feels like a huge, endless project to work on. There are all the memories, feelings, and physical responses…where would we even start?!? Well, the first thing to do is get it out of your head. Here’s what I mean: Take out a piece of paper and grab a pen. If you are like me you grab pens in a variety of colours to make it interesting. Then list what is making you sad right now. Next what is making you mad. After that write down what is worrying you right now. Keep going with any emotions that show up and want to be addressed. Write until you can’t think of what to write any further. For some of you it will happen faster than you think, and for others, you may be writing pages upon pages. Yes, this will probably lead you to feel emotional because you are finally getting what’s been inside of you out on paper.

Since we are on that topic, do you know how amazingly strong you are? Like whoa! You are SO strong and capable, but somewhere along the line, years after years of not being told that, you forgot. Add on top of not being told regularly how strong you are life throwing some tough things your way…maybe all at once…and it’s easy to forget. I am here to remind you. You are so strong. Don’t be scared of your emotions or facing your past. You can handle all of it. Seriously. Now back to the next tool.

3: Honour Your Body

Grief isn’t just in our heads. It’s actually stored in our bodies, but our mind tries to make sense of it all making us think it’s a mind thing. The Western world has lost sight of how much of our emotions and experiences are held in our bodies. We want to think it out, problem solve, and make a band aid solution. That doesn’t help. After my mom died, I found some of the greatest healing came from putting on music, singing at the top of my lungs and stomping. Yep, stomping. As I stomped, the vibration went through me letting my tears flow more freely. I didn’t need to think. I needed to honour my body.

Our bodies tell us what it needs on a regular basis; however, we have lost our ability to listen. Allow yourself the space to listen to what your body tells you it needs. Does it need to dance, stretch, lie down and rest, be still, jump, or stomp? Sometimes it even takes doing the activity to see if it’s the right activity for you in that moment. Once we start tuning in to what our body wants and needs more often, we will find the communication channel much easier to hear.

Remember that honouring your body isn’t just about movement or relaxing. It’s also about what we put into it. The holidays are full of opportunities to overstuff ourselves and forget about the nutrients we need. We get nostalgic eating seasonal foods and then eat and eat and eat. The cues that tell us “Enough!” are overridden by the dopamine and endorphins that say “This is good stuff. Keep going.” We always like encouragement to keep going versus boundaries to stop. Our bodies suffer, and we deal with the guilt and upset stomach for the next day or two until the next big meal. When we are grieving, it’s best to avoid what we know will make us physically feel worse so we don’t add to how we already feel.

Honour your body. Listen to its needs. Remember that your brain isn’t always telling you the healthiest way to go about things. Give yourself the space to try new ways of releasing the grief that you feel inside. Movement, rest, even creating with your hands all have a powerful place in your grief journey. It’s up to you to make the time for them though.

Grief during the holidays can make a person feel like getting back in bed and coming out after the new year. With these three tools in your toolbox, though, it doesn’t have to be that way for you this year. Give them a try and let us know how they worked for you. If you are on your grief journey or just starting, check out my book The New Face of Grief to give you more tools and support as you navigate this challenging time. It’s a book that is changing how people around the world experience grief and giving them the path to transform their pain into empowerment. Remember: You are SO capable of getting through the experience of grief during the holidays because you are you. You innately have the strength. Don’t let your brain tell you differently! Now go work on simplifying, getting it all out of your head, and honouring your body. Cheers to our healing this holiday season.

Katie is an author, transformative grief guide and licensed counsellor with 13 years of experience helping individuals, couples, and families. She is the author of The New Face of Grief and is on a mission to help people learn how to heal hidden grief in their lives. Katie is an expat, wife, mom of three, and loves to be by the water to relax.

Metformin pills.  Two people holding a picture

Daily Express Newspaper, UK, Monday 22 November 2021.  

Re-purposing medications has been discussed for years, many have found success in treating their cancer in this way.  

One of the most high profile is Jane McLelland whose websitebook and healing story feature on our site.  Since her own remarkable recovery, Jane has been a staunch supporter of ‘off label’ drugs for cancer therapy (medicines used for other conditions than their approved licence).

Now Jane is campaigning for off-label drugs to be recognised as effective cancer treatment. She has visited Parliament, helping to change legislation for ‘off patent’ and ‘off label’ drugs.  

Watch this space.

Teddy bear in bed with a plaster on his head and a thermometer in his hand
Teddy joined our site this week as we added a new Children’s Health section. If you have any trusted resources that you use please let us know (there’s a contact form on the site) and we can take a look!

Isabella Wentz

Another healing story, this time from Margaret:

‘I have been diagnosed with Hashimoto’s disorder for 24years, during which time my medication (Thyroxine) requirements escalated to 225MCG and my weight went up and down.

In the summer of 2019 I read a book by Isabella Wentz who herself lives with Hashimoto’s disorder. She is also a qualified pharmacist and can be located on this site.

She has devised a nutrition plan that can actually kickstart the thyroid into action. In Hashimoto’s disorder the body actually turns against itself and begins to destroy it’s thyroid gland. 

I commenced by keeping to her elimination plan for the first twelve weeks and gradually added foods back in after that time. It was interesting to find that I was sensitive to eggs, gluten and several spices. 

Having now been on Isabella’s plan for almost two years, my medication requirement has decreased from 225mcg each day to 100mcg each day.

As Isabella suggests I take Selenium 400ug each day.

I eat mainly fish, vegetables, salad and fruit. Never anything processed and I try to avoid the ‘nightshade’ group of foods such as tomatoes, potatoes and chillies.

Last year my husband sadly passed away quite suddenly, this was a very stressful time for me, a time when I was most at risk from autoimmune disorders (quite often if you suffer from one autoimmune disorder, you are much more likely to suffer from others, particularly in times of stress).

I did develop psoriasis on my scalp and began to lose my hair again. I took extra selenium for two or three months until the psoriasis disappeared and my hair grew back again.  My hair is now thicker than it has been for many years.  (Denise here: I can vouch for this – Margaret looks fantastic!)

I wish doctors knew more about autoimmune disorders or were prepared to spend more on research into them, but sadly they don’t and won’t. This is largely due to the fact that many autoimmune disorders are not life threatening, although I can testify that they are often life changing for many people.

I am so grateful that I discovered a healthier way of eating. It is hard to believe that what we eat can and does affect us so much but it really does.’

Margaret Rew, November 2021

Facebook conversation with Kris Carr

Got into a dialogue with the effervescent Kris Carr this week.  I discovered Kris’s work early on in my cancer experience.  

It seems to be ‘testimony week’ this week on Something New.  Here’s Kris’s cancer story as she shares with Nutrition Studies, who are also featured on the nutrition section of our site.

The conversation progressed with other members of Kris’s group, leading to me suggesting that I was not the only HSP (Highly Sensitive Person) present and Kris was one too… (spoiler, she agreed).

HOPE.  These 4 letters are surrounding me and many others right now.    

This one resonated with the simple wisdom, shared so many years ago.  

Still wise advice today.

Mother Nature knew exactly how to 'Let it Go' way before Elsa hit our Disney conscience.  And that is what she is doing beautifully in SW France.
Mother Nature knew exactly how to ‘Let it Go’ way before Elsa hit our Disney conscience. And that is what she is doing beautifully in SW France.

Wilding book cover.  Bird on branch

I learned so much from this book.  It’s seen as a seminal work by many for nature conservation in the UK.

You can find it featured in the sustainability section of the site.

It’s a giant leap on from Clarkson’s Farm’s new lake which we watched appear as part of a series on Netflix this week.  

Jeremy could learn a lot from this lady…

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By doublezero100

Denise Stevenson founded the health and wellness charity in 2021 after healing from stage 3 breast cancer at (5-zero) and realising there was no one source to access the wealth of resources that had guided her back to health without the mastectomy her oncologist said was a certainty. Denise is a church founder and president, author and local councillor. She's English-born and has French nationality after living there with her husband and 3 girls for the past 20 years.

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