Coping With Loneliness At Christmas
HOW CAN I GO ON?
Without a doubt Christmas will come every year. It can be a joyous time or a time of loneliness and sorrow. Several years ago I used to work with a Suicide Prevention Agency in my state. I worked the afternoon and midnight shift for over 11 years.
It would never fail that each and every Christmas I would get several calls from people, some of them repeat callers, calling to thank me for helping them, and some of them calling wanting to end their lives, because they did not want to spend another Christmas Holiday alone.
I would listen to them caringly and wholeheartedly to give them a listening ear. Like clock work, that inevitable question would be asked sooner or later. "What am I suppose to do without my husband, wife, or loved one?". Or "how can I go on?"
These were always tough questions to answer. But I would try to answer them quietly, tenderly and lovingly when appropriate. Each person was different, but all had the same needs.
Some would call under the heavy influence of alchohol. Some with no drugs involved, but just needed to talk. Some would be threatning to overdose on pills and some who just had reached that point, and had consumed an overdosing amount.
"If you don't do something for me right now I'm going to end it all". I remember those desperate words on a few too many occasions. And OMG, what a hard instant prescription that would be to fill.
"I have the pills right in my hand and I'm going to take them. I can't take it anymore, nobody gives a crap about me since my wife died", one man said. I think the family was just nice to me all of those years because of her. They don't call or come by like they use to."...
Good, I'm thinking, he's talking. He want's to communicate. So I listen, and I listen, and I interject with a few easy comments or questions when appropriate. "It sounds like your wife was a wonderful person," I said... "She was, I should have died instead of her"... "Sometimes I feel like I can't go on"..."But you know you must, your wife would have wanted that right?" I said...
I had to always keep my cool, keep them talking, be a listening ear. All the while hoping and praying that they would make it another day, another month, another year.
I am glad to say, in all the years I worked with Suicide Prevention I never lost a caller to an overdose or otherwise, eventhough many times I came close.
Here's a few suggestions I would give to my callers when I could. These are also tips I give to my senior groups that I work with:
1 - Talk To Someone - I have a neighbor who's wife died about two years ago. They used to frequent the casino almost everyday. For a while he had a hard time going in the casino without her, but then decided what else was he going to do with his life. Now he goes to the casino by himself almost everyday and he is glad that he does.
He has found great solace in the employees from the coat check girls, technicians, security guards, waitresses to the cleaning women. Many of them knew his wife and remembered them coming in all the time. They make him feel so welcomed, and he has poured out many a tear and conversation to them.
He is glad that he continued this casino tradition. Lots of times he frequents the casino without playing any slot games at all. He'll come in for some of their free coffee or pepsi. Plus there is a couple of lounging areas where he can read his newspaper, clubs where he can enjoy music, and a variety of restaurants for him to enjoy. It has helped to fill his hours and open the doors to many new friends.
2- Visit with Old and New Friends and Relatives - Who knows you beter than some of your old acquaintances. They will encourage you, listen to your problems, invite you over for gatherings etc.. Take them up on it, you can always cut your visit short if it becomes too overwhelming. They are always understanding and will invite you over again and again and even welcome you when you come by unannounced.
3 - Get A Pet - Dog, cat, bird, fish, turtle... Take your pick. Personally I think cats are very nice to have as pets. They are soft and cuddly when you want that needed touch and they're always rubbing up against you to show their love and affection.
4 - Feed the Squirrells or Ducks at the Park - Don't want to buy a pet of your own? Go to a local park daily, weekly or whenever you want. Bring a bag of crackers or cookies for the birds and ducks. The squirrells like any kind of nuts. We usually take them peanuts or pecans. They love for you to feed them. Take your camera with you and take some pictures of them and the beautiful scenery.
5 -Pick a Theme Song - Play your song daily or several times daily. Make it something positive, motivating and upbeat. If it has lyrics learn all of the verses and sing them daily. Dance to your theme music, make up a new dance routine for it, wrap yourself in the tune. Learn to play it on a piano, or small keyboard, flute or harmonica that you can carry around with you easily in your bag or car. Let your music make you strong!
6 - Eat Healthy
7 - Take a Multiple Vitamin Mineral Tablet Daily
8 - Eat Enough Fiber Daily - Most experts agree that we should have about 25 - 30 grams of dietary fiber daily. Fiber helps you to lower your cholesterol, lose weight, aids your digestive system and so much more. You can Google: Foods with fiber to see the great variety to choose from.
9 - Take your medication - Whatever it may be, that the doctor has prescribed for you, take it faithfully. You will feel better mentally and physically knowing that condition or problem is being taken care of.
10 - Exercise - Start walking at least 3 times a week or dancing, or any exercise to keep you healthier. Choose an activity you'll really enjoy like swimming, ping pong, bowling, yoga... (Always check with your doctor before starting any exercise program so he or she can help steer you in the right direction for a regimen that is right for you).
11 - Join a internet social group - There are so many to choose. You can join Twitter.com, Facebook.com, Yahoo Groups, Forums...
12- Play Online Games - I have a friend who loves solitaire, and another who loves bingo and free online casino playing
13 - Attend Hospital Bereavement Events - Lots os hospitals will put you on their list or you can call them for social gatherings of other widowers. They can be fun and gives you a chance to talk to those who are going through the loss of a loved one like you.
14 - Accept Paid Counseling - There is nothing wrong with talking to a psychiatrist or psychologist. You have nothing to be ashamed of. When I was in California. it was nothing to hear people talk about which psychiatrist they were seeng and of course they were proud of it. We all need someone to talk to even if it is $250.00 a hour plus (which most insurances will cover).
15 - Accept Free Counseling - Some Community Colleges, The Salvation Army, Hospitals, Schools, Churces...Offer free classes in bereavement, life after death, overcoming depression, avoiding the holiday blues. You can check your local newspapers or yellow pages for these institutions, and give them a call.
16 - Join a church - Or a least start attending one. You can go in and don't have to say a word. Sit and listen to what the minister is saying and enjoy the music. They are so full of love and understanding. Most of them have numerous support groups, singles clubs, classes, events... to keep you busy and fulfilled.
17 - Join a club - Check out your local newspaper, or Google.com for local clubs in your area you might be interested in.
18- Join a Marathon - Here you can walk or run if your in shape, (Check with your doctor before participating if planning any major distance activity.) Most cities and towns have a great number of causes for you to support. You can run, jog, walk, get patrons or ads, sign up other volunteers, pass out flyers, water, towels...
19 - Volunteer - The choices are so many. See your local newspaper in the classified section or events sections, or call whatever organization you've always wanted to be a part of and join in.
20 - Be A Foster Parent or Grandparent - Just Google: How To Be A Foster Parent and put in your state. This can be so rewarding and will even put a little extra money in your pocket. You will find all the information you need to help a child live a much better life in so many areas.
21- Get A Part Time Job - You'll meet new people, add more income to your budget and reinforce to yourself and society that you are an important viable human being with a lot to offer.
22 - Pick a Hobby - Think of a hobby you've always wanted to do. Now is the time to start it. Read all about it, learn all about it, enjoy it, savor it, make money from it, whatever you choose claim it as yours and wear it proud.
Need some suggestions: antique collecting, astrology, beadwork, belly dancing, hip hop dancing, square dancing, native dancing, tango, cake decorating, pie making, beer making, wine making, candle making, collecting coins, horses, copper bracelets, rocks, sea shells, art, pipes, jokes, quotes, Disneymania,...
card games, computer games, cooking, crochet, crossword puzzels, doll making, drawing, embroidery, face painting, fishing, floral arrangments, gardening, grow a vegetable garden, hunting, jewelry making, kids crafts, knitting, learn a new language, magic and optical illusions, photography, play an instrument, poetry writing, quilting, recycling, sewing, singing, stamp collecting, storytelling, write a book... the list is endless
22- Fulfill Your Dreams - Whatever they may be. Do it now!
"Start by doing what's necessary, then do what's possible, and suddenly you are doing the impossible." -St. Francis of Assisi
YOU CAN BEAT THE HOLIDAY BLUES
These are just a few encouraging options to help get you through the Christmas Holiday Blues. These ideas, when implemented will start you enjoying your life much better and much happier each and everyday. When the holidays come around you will be stronger and more equiped to handle any obstacle a lot easier.