help yourself through the holidays by helping others

Is the prospect of any holiday celebrating just too much to consider this year?

If you recently lost your partner, you may be feeling very “bah, humbug!” about all the customary activities and rituals of the season.

While you may chose to modify some of your usual tasks (see our post about surviving the holidays), you might be thinking about ignoring the day completely.

Keep in mind that at some point, either on the holiday or before, the pain of your loss with catch up with you (learn more about preventing “sneak attacks”).

So in addition to grieving, what can you do if you want to skip the usual holiday activities?

This time of year, there are numerous opportunities for volunteering in your community.

Consider participating with a friend and/or your children or grandchildren.

In addition to helping you stay busy during this difficult period, you’ll gain the warm feelings that come with brightening the days for those you help.

Here are some good ideas we found on factoidz.com:

Nursing Homes
Nursing homes need all kinds of volunteers. You could help decorate for their Christmas and Thanksgiving parties. They usually have a need for gift wrappers as well, and for volunteers to help the elderly make arts and crafts Christmas gifts. Volunteering for the elderly can be a year round project.

Women’s Shelters
These shelters would love to have help decorating trees, babysitting, and maybe even transporting women to do their holiday shopping. Also consider doing things like answering phones and data entry.

Homeless Shelters
There is always a need for help in these shelters, and these days our shelters are overflowing with people who need your services. Go there to help with fundraising, food preparation, clothing drives; the list is endless.

Food Kitchens
Thanksgiving is a great time to help prepare and serve a hot meal to the needy. Shelters are listed in the phone book and on the Internet.

Children’s Shelters
Help the kids get the toys they want for Christmas. Call your local childrens’ shelter and find out what toys they need and drop them off. Remember Toys for Tots, it’s sponsored by the United States Marine Corps, and all you have to do is buy a toy and drop it off at one of many selected drop off points.

Your local place of worship
Ask your religious advisor what you can do to help those in your community, maybe even those at your place of worship need help. This type of volunteering is one of the easiest ways to help our neighbors.

Online Volunteering
Contribute your skills to organizations all around the world, and help them grow. You can make a difference through your translation skills, research, writing and editing….the possibilities are almost endless.

Any other suggestions for holiday volunteering?

Please let us know.


Kaye Swain said...

These are wonderful ideas. When my husband went to be with the Lord, I had older teens. I knew I had to help them and his family through the holidays and, in doing so, it helped me as well.

It's always more blessed to give than to receive, and that is definitely true in this situation!

Thanks for a very interesting article. :)

Laurie and Ruth said...

Thanks for your encouraging comment, Kaye!

LostLisa41 said...

Please tell me how to start again. I lost my husband of 17 years to Congestive Heart Failure. He had a prolonged illness and we lost our retirement funds for n 2009. I then used the rest to care for him AND WOULD NOT CHANGE ANYTHING I DID....I WOULD DO IT ALL OVER AGAIN. I miss him more than life itself. I’m trying to liquidate some fine art, so that I can train for a position in the health care industry. I have also lost my entire family. I’m all alone and go weeks without speaking to anyone as I have no funds for anything. Thank goodness for food programs through the state. It’s not much, however I’m very grateful!!!
This year has been the worst as I feel I will never be able to continue on in life as I have no family, or friends as I devoted my life to my husband. The business we owned together requires more than I have to operate it, so I’m praying to sell the art and have a life again. I almost feel as if mine is over and I’m here day in snd day out alone and unable to help myself. I used to be the happy loving woman William by to help anyone. Now, I can’t help myself. I’m so sad, depressed, embarrassed and alone. It makes one wonder how you survive this much loss! Thanks for reading. I hope we all can heal in our own ways someday. Before it’s too late for me especially it has been three years and now I’m loosing everything I have too. I keep trying to just get up. Lisa

Laurie & Ruth said...

Dear Lisa,

It sounds like you're grieving multiple losses, of which your husband's death is the most recent. On top of that, you're probably depressed over your ongoing financial situation.

Try contacting your local hospital social workers re sliding scale counseling and also check out GriefNet.org for free online support groups, to help you feel less isolated.

This is one of the most difficult times of the year for anyone dealing with loss and depression. Keep reaching out, though. There are resources for support out there.