7 DAYS OF HEALING : DAY 6
Gift-giving can lose its luster after loved ones die. What was once a moment to look forward to becomes a pain point. The days of experiencing the joy of unwrapping gifts with loved ones who have transitioned are no more. While accumulating things is no substitute for creating memories, we can find moments of joy when we give the gift of healing.
The health benefits of giving.
There is something inherently good about helping others. The warm and fuzzy feeling you get from donating, volunteering at a local shelter, or giving presents to those you hold dear is immeasurable. All smiles aside, a science exists behind why giving benefits our mental and physical health. Giving boosts the level of endorphins or feel-good hormones in your body, leading to an enhanced mood and reduced stress. Other bonuses include lower blood pressure and a healthy heart.
“When we do things for other people, it makes us feel much more engaged and joyful,” Dr. Susan Albers shared with Cleveland Health Clinic. “That’s good for our health and our happiness.”
Give back and volunteer.
It is easy to fall into despair when immersed in melancholy. Next time grief rears its head, pivot the focal point away from self and apply those negative feelings to serving others. A great way to manage grief and simultaneously redefine what the holiday season means is through volunteerism. It's difficult for depression to take root when volunteering or contributing to charitable efforts. Reach out to a soup kitchen, homeless shelter, center for survivors of domestic violence, or children's hospital and offer your time and service. Make it a family affair and a new holiday ritual. The "helper's high" experienced will keep depression at bay and may prolong your life.
The gift that keeps on giving.
During the holidays, there is a subliminal message of creating abundance through giving material things. We scour the malls for the perfect gift and fight through crowds for last-minute deals. Our fondest memories center around unwrapping presents on Christmas Eve or Christmas Day. Unfortunately, the physical absence of those nearest and dearest to our hearts creates a vacuum where gift-giving becomes less enjoyable. An intense desire to minimize gift-giving may arise or to skip it altogether. Parents of young children especially face this inner conflict since it inherently clashes with the merriment receiving gifts provides their children.
As gloomy as missing presents under the tree is, there is a silver lining if the deceased was a cheerful giver. Purchase one of their favorite things and bless someone deserving instead of gifting the dearly departed. An example would be a friend, family member or the less fortunate. Of course, store bought items are optional, especially if budget is a concern. Prior to her memorial, I intentionally went through prized possessions belonging to my mother. Curated clothing items, jewelry and other trinkets found new homes with individuals I knew would appreciate them and that loved her immensely. Outside of giving away your loved ones clothing and possesions, there are other ways to give back.
- Give socks, gloves and toiletry items to homeless living on the streets.
- Prepare or purchase and donate holiday meals to the underserved who may be alone for the holidays, like the elderly, veterans, sick children etc.
- Adopt a family and sponsor their presents and other holiday tidings.
- Host a toy drive in your community.
- Make a donation to a charity that meant a lot to your loved one.
Ultimately, in order to give the gift of healing, you must first pour into yourself. Prioritize self-care before delivering small acts of kindness to others.
GET YOUR COMPLIMENTARY COPING w/GRIEF GUIDE!!
For more practical tips to coping with grief this holiday season and beyond, click the button below to DOWNLOAD '10 Ways to cope with grief' TODAY!