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John James, founder of The Grief Recovery Institute

John W. James

Founder of The Grief Recovery Institute®
Co-Author of The Grief Recovery
Handbook & When Children Grieve

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The 4th of July—Another Reminder of Those Who Are No Longer Here

The common bond that connects all holiday celebrations is that they tend to be family-oriented events. Whether the holiday commemorates religious events, changes in the seasons, or our country’s independence from Britain, we gather in our family clans to honor the day, and by extension, our personal and social connections.

Generally speaking, that’s good for everyone, except for those attending such an event for the first time after the death of someone meaningful to them. Even attending another family’s barbeque, your awareness of who isn’t there with you can create a great deal of emotion in you.

The emotional reaction may be true for more than the first year after the loss. In the event that someone important to you died around the time of a particular holiday, you may have emotions around that time for many years to come. That is normal since the holiday is such a massive stimulus to remind you of who’s missing.

With that in mind, we’ve put together some helpful tips to guide you, or anyone you know, in dealing with the emotions that often arise during any holiday.

  • Don’t Isolate Yourself. It’s normal and natural to feel lost and alone—but Don’t Isolate—even if you have to force yourself to be with people and participate in normal activities.
  • Don’t misuse food or alcohol to cover-up or push down your feelings. As children,when we’re sad about something, we’re often told “Don’t Feel Bad, here have a cookie, you’ll feel better.” The cookie doesn’t make the child feel better, it makes the child feel different, and the real cause of the sadness is not discussed. When we get older, alcohol and drugs are often used for the same wrong reason—to mask feelings of sadness. 
  • Talk about your feelings, but don’t expect a quick fix. It’s essential to have someone you trust to talk about your memories and the feelings they evoke. Ask your friend to just listen to you, and not try to fix you. You’re sad, not broken, you just need to be heard.
  • While it’s important to talk about your feelings, don’t dwell on them. Telling the same sad story over and over is not helpful—in fact, it re-establishes your relationship to your pain. Better to just make a simple statement of how you feel in the moment, for example: “I just had a sad feeling of missing him.
  • Time doesn’t heal—actions do. The myth that time heals a broken heart is just that, a myth. Time can’t heal a broken heart any more than air can jump into a flat tire. Time just goes by. It’s the actions you take within time that can help you feel better.
  • Don’t get too busy. Avoid hyperactivity. Don’t get too busy. Hyperactivity just distracts you, it doesn’t really deal with, or communicate about, your broken heart.
  • Maintain your normal routines. The change from being in a relationship to being alone is an enormous adjustment. It’s never a good idea to add a host of other changes while you’re trying to adapt to the end of the relationship.
  • Go through the pain, not under, over, or around it. It’s very tempting to try to avoid the pain associated with a broken heart. But it’s also a very bad idea. Whenever you skirt the pain, all you’re doing is pushing it away temporarily. It will always come back to haunt you.
  • Find effective guidance. While the grief of a broken heart is the normal reaction to the death of someone important to you, it’s very helpful to find effective tools to help you discover and complete everything that was left emotionally incomplete by the death. The Grief Recovery Handbook and When Children Grieve are excellent resources for effective guidance. They feature the principles and actions of The Grief Recovery Method. They are available in most libraries and bookstores, or here on www.Tributes.com

© 2014 Russell Friedman andJohn W. James, and the Grief Recovery Institute.

© 2022 John W. James and The Grief Recovery Institute®. All rights reserved. For permission to reprint this and other articles please contact The Grief Recovery Institute at info@griefrecoverymethod.com or by phone, 800-334-7606.

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    April 2017
    Indianapolis, IN - April 7-10, 2017
    Princeton, NJ - April 7-10, 2017
    Reading, Berkshire, England - April 21-24, '17
    Denver, CO - April 21-24, 2017
    Vancouver, BC, Canada - Apr 28-May 1,'17
    San Francisco, CA - Apr 28-May 1,'17
    May 2017
    Seattle, WA - May 5-8, 2017
    Dallas, TX - May 5-8, 2017
    Milwaukee, WI - May 19-22, 2017
    Torquay, Devon, England - May 19-22, '17
    Regina, SK, Canada - May 19-22,'17
    Los Angeles, CA - May 19-22, 2017

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