How to Comfort Ourselves in Times of Sadness and Grief

In this holiday season, when our feelings and memories may be extra tender, remember to give to yourself.


So yesterday I was in treatment at my chiropractor’s office and one usually relieving chiropractic movement sent me into deep sobbing. While I am grieving the end of my career on the staff of my beloved church, I am also experiencing indescribable emotions over one of my dear friends moving out of state, not to mention today is my late husband’s birthday. He passed almost ten years ago, but this day, so close to Christmas, and so close to his passing, marks a still lingering bitter-sweet memory of giving him a warm, fleecy North Face hoodie on this birthday, knowing he would only wear it a few times before he no longer needed it, since he would be leaving his body behind in just a few weeks.

What’s important when our heart hurts, when our mind recalls our departed loved ones—our bitter-sweet memories, when we may be steeped in sadness and the tears well up? What’s important is letting ourselves acknowledge and experience the feelings. Then we have the opportunity to comfort ourselves. Can we do that? Can we really touch into our own caring and have it sooth our sadness, forgive our regrets, give of our own healing, find the good so we can bask in the healing energy of gratitude? It has taken me a lifetime to recognize I can do this. I can talk to the part of me that needs guidance. I can place a hand on my heavy heart and take comfort in the warmth, and I can put the other hand on my queasy stomach. Sometimes, we’re the only one that can reach into those depths to make a difference in the quality of the moment. Sometimes, we are the only one that can listen deep inside to the part of us that knows what we need in each moment. Ah, right now, I heard myself say, it’s okay to have these feelings. Just let yourself be and discover where that takes you. It may very well bring peace, a soft smile, and a thought that I am okay even in these moments. I will emerge from this moment with a deeper understanding, with greater love and compassion.

So in this holiday season, when our feelings and memories may be extra tender, remember to give to yourself. Give love and compassion. Give understanding. This could sound like: “I love myself, I bless myself, I am sorry we’re feeling sad, and I understand how deeply we are experiencing these feelings.” Take some deep breaths. Bask in your own healing energy and watch for any moments of joy, of gratitude, of caring and peace, however fleeting they may be. Sometimes it takes repeating as many times as it takes. 

One very powerful healing technique for me is writing. This is why journals are so valuable. When Kenny died, I wrote an entire book and published it in memoriam to us both for the intensely powerful experiences and learnings we both had as he was dying. I made every word picture a flower in bloom. Something greater than me was downloading these priceless images. Even my vocabulary expanded to words I’d never used before. And much to my gratitude, the book was not only a priceless gift to myself, but many other people benefited from reading it as well. You don’t have to write a book. Just a sentence or two in your journal on a regular basis can open the floodgates of healing and joy.

Blessings of comfort and joy to us all during this beautiful season of giving and expressing our loving toward one another and most importantly to ourselves.

Carol is available for consultation by email or on Facebook. [email protected] 

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