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By Mary L. Robinson, Imagine Founder
For years after my father died my mom carried on at the holidays as if nothing had changed. Her intentions were good — to keep things the same and not bring any sadness into the room. But things weren’t the same, there was a person missing. My dad. The person who sawed off the bottom of the tree to fit into the tree stand. And who wired the tree with lights and watched as we all decorated it with the familiar ornaments and sipped hot chocolate. Except now I was the one trying to saw off the bottom of the tree and get the lights on just so the way my mom liked. His missing presence lodged itself like a lump in my throat and sometimes it was all I could do not to cry. Not to cry.
At Imagine we talk about the importance of having all of your feelings. Not just the ones that make other people comfortable. And not just to have them, but to express them whether by talking, writing, drawing, pounding on a pillow or kicking a ball. When we express our feelings it helps discharge some of the kinetic energy in our bodies that causes those lumps in our throat or makes us lash out at the ones we love. Putting words on our feelings helps us connect them to our thoughts which in turn helps us cope.
If you are grieving this holiday season whether because someone died or you had any type of loss, such as a relationship ending, the loss of a job or dream, a pet dying, an unexpected diagnosis, here are some tips to consider for getting through the next few weeks.
During the holidays it is especially important to reach out for support. Who are the people who really know how to listen? Who will let you have all your feelings? Surround yourself as much as possible with people like this.
If you are feeling overwhelmed or in crisis, call Caring Contact at 908-232-2880 or text “heart” to 741-741.
If you are between the ages of 10 and 24, live in New Jersey, and need to talk about an issue or problem that you are facing, call 888-222-2228 anytime or text 888-222-2228.
If you are feeling suicidal, call 800-273-8255.
Remember, just say no. No is a complete sentence. You can say “no thank you” if you feel more words are needed. Take care of yourself this holiday season. We are here if you need us.