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Well today marks the 5th day in my 12 days of Random Acts of Kindness. So I will report the things that happened in the last five days.

Day one:

I was leaving Wal-Mart when I saw this elderly lady looking very lost  in the parking lot. I watched her for a while then decided  I would go see if everything was okay.  She said that she had lost her car and couldn’t remember where she had parked .  The parking lot was quite busy and there was  a lot of people doing Christmas Shopping, and was worried for her safety so I decided to help her find her car.

She was quite nervous and shaken up and continuously  told me how grateful she was and I made her less nervous.  She jibber jabber the whole time  and we walked around for about 10 min. It felt like we walked in circles that I kept the smile on my face so she didn’t get even more nervous.  Finally she spotted her car.  She tried to give me money for my trouble,  I politely refused and told her  it was all part of my 12 days of  Random Acts of Kindness and she was my first  one.  She was delighted and quit grateful that she could be part of that.  I was off to a good start.

Day two:

My life coach started a group for people going through You University or are thinking about going through You University. I am one of her clients in this group who will graduate the end of this month. One of her other graduates made a post in the group and I got the distinct feeling there was something very wrong. I immediately posted back and told her to call me that night. She did, and we talked.

At the beginning she had no clue as to what was wrong, but I knew something had triggered this and if I kept talking to her she would figure it out. And just like I expected she did. I told her I would make her something that I believed might help and send it to her. By the end of our conversation she sounded quite different than she had in the beginning. She was confident, more sure of herself, and with a new understanding of the situation. She knew how she created this and she was ready to deal with it. I had to smile, I felt like a proud parent.

Day three:

I don’t know what it is about Wal-Mart but you can always find somebody  there to help.  I was at the checkout line waiting  in those enormous long lines that have 20 checkout  lanes and three cashiers working (I am sure you know what I’m talking about) when I saw a little girl  standing at the gumball machines crying.  At first  she was yelling for her mommy then she just sat down on the floor in front of the machine and cried quietly. By now I was  forth in line (from about 10th in line) and during that whole time she just sat there. I don’t know where her mother was and nobody came over to see what was wrong.

When I was finished and ready to leave she was still there so I walked over and asked her where her money was.  She couldn’t have been more than four years old.  She said she didn’t know so I told her I would help her find her mommy.  I took her hand and as we started to walk to customer service she asked if I could please get the money she had put into the machine so she could put it back into the machine and get her gum.  I looked at her for a moment and realize why she had been crying, the machine had taken her money and not given her her gum.  So I told her I would put in another nickel and get her the gum.

We then went over to customer service and they paged her mother.  Her mother was quite slow in coming to customer service but when she did show up she hadn’t even known our daughter was missing.  As a matter of fact she never even thanked me for helping her lost daughter. But as I was turning to go, her daughter (whose name was Natalie) said “thank you nice lady for the gum”.  That made me smile and it was definitely worth “a parent with an attitude”.

Day Three:

Sometimes just having a kind word to someone who is not being very kind, can feel good and count as a random act of kindness.  This time I was at Walgreen’s.  There was a (what I would like to call) a grumpy old man standing behind me in line, and boy was he grumpy!  All he could do was complain, complain, complain! I started to get a little irritated and wanted to turn around and tell him to be quiet. But of course that isn’t something I would do I just thought it. I’m not sure what came over me but  what I did next  surprised me. I turned around to the man and I said ” I know how you feel. It’s days like this you just wish someone would say something nice  and make everything all better.”

He was quiet for a minute and just stared at me,  I stared back,  then he smile. I couldn’t believe what I had just said. But the most amazing thing was what he said back to me.  He said ” little lady, you just did. I guess  I don’t have that much to complain about really. It could be worse. People like you, keep people like me from blowing up the world”.  I just smiled  and told him to have a nice day. I made somebody smile and hopefully he did have a better day.  We can only hope.

And today is day five:

What I want to share today is a gift of kindness to anyone who is having a hard time this holiday  grieving  over the loss of a loved one especially the loss of a child. It’s the 64 tips on how to cope with grief during the holiday season. Please take what you want, leave the rest, they are only tips  and no one can tell you how to grieve or how to feel or even how long to grieve.  I have been there, I am still there, it is something  you do not ever get over, you just work through it.  It’s a forever task. Time does not heal all things,  I know, the death of my child proved that to me.  Please, take this as my gift to you.

  1. Acknowledge that the holidays will be different and they will be tough.
  2. Decide which traditions you want to keep.
  3. Decide which traditions you want to change.
  4.  Create a new tradition in memory of your loved one.
  5. Decide where you want to spend the holidays – you may want to switch up the location, or it may be of comfort to keep it the same.  Either way, make a conscious decision about location.
  6. Plan ahead and communicate with the people you will spend the holiday with in advance, to make sure everyone is in agreement about traditions and plans.
  7. Remember that not everyone will be grieving the same way you are grieving.
  8. Remember that the way others will want to spend the holiday may not match how you want to spend the holiday.
  9. Put out a ‘memory stocking’, ‘memory box’, or other special place where you and others can write down memories you treasure.  Pick a time to read them together.
  10. Light a candle in your home in memory of the person you’ve lost.
  11. Include one of your loved one’s favorite dishes in your holiday meal.
  12. Be honest. Tell people what you DO want to do for the holidays and what you DON’T want to do.
  13. Make a donation to a charity that was important to your loved one in their name.
  14. Buy a gift you would have given to your loved one and donate it to a local charity.
  15. If you are feeling really ambitious, adopt a family in memory of your loved one.  This can often be done through a church, salvation army, or good will.
  16. See a counselor.  Maybe you’ve been putting it off.  The holidays are especially tough, so this may be the time to talk to someone.
  17. Pick a few special items that belonged to your loved one and gift them to friends or family who will appreciate them.
  18. Make a memorial ornament, wreath, or other decoration in honor of your loved one.
  19. If you have been having a hard time parting with your loved one’s clothing, use the holidays as an opportunity to donate some items to a homeless shelter or other charity.
  20. Send a holiday card to friends of your loved one who you may regret having lost touch with.
  21. Visit your loved one’s gravesite and leave a grave blanket, wreath, poinsettia, or other meaningful holiday item.
  22. Play your loved one’s favorite holiday music.
  23. If your loved one hated holiday music, that’s okay! Play whatever music they loved.
  24. Journal when you are having an especially bad day.
  25. Skip holiday events if you are in holiday overload.
  26. Don’t feel guilty about skipping events if you are in holiday overload!
  27. Don’t get trapped.  When you go to holiday events, drive yourself so you can leave if it gets to be too much.
  28. Pull out old photo albums and spend some time on the holiday looking at photos.
  29. Talk to kids about the holidays – it can be confusing for kids that the holidays can be both happy and sad after a death.  Let them know it is okay to enjoy the holiday, and it is okay to be sad.
  30. Make a dish that your loved one used to make. Don’t get discouraged if you try to make their dish and you fail.  We’ve all been there (or, at least I’ve been there!).
  31. Leave an empty seat at the holiday table in memory of your loved one.
  32. If leaving an empty seat is too depressing, invite someone who doesn’t have family to spend the holiday with.
  33. Don’t send holiday cards this year if it is too sad or overwhelming.
  34. Don’t feel guilty about not sending holiday cards!
  35. Create a ‘dear photograph’, with a photo of a holiday past.
  36. Skip or minimize gifts.  After a death, material things can seem less meaningful and the mall can seem especially stressful.  Talk as a family and decide whether you truly want to exchange gifts this year.
  37. Put out a photo table with photos of your loved one at holiday celebrations in the past.
  38. Go to a grief group.  When everyone looks so gosh-darn filled with holiday cheer, sometimes it is helpful to talk with others who are struggling.
  39. Skip (or minimize) the decorations if they are too much this year.  Don’t worry, you’ll see plenty of decorations outside your house.
  40. Don’t feel guilty if you skip or minimize the decorations!
  41. Remember that crying is okay.  The holidays are everywhere and who knows what may trigger a cry-fest.  We’ve all been there and it is okay to cry (even if you are in the sock aisle at Target).
  42. Volunteer in your loved one’s memory.
  43.  Let your perfectionism go.  If you always have the perfect tree, perfectly wrapped gifts, and perfect table, accept that this year may not be perfect and that is A-Okay.  I know this is easier said than done for you but give it a try.
  44. Ignore people who want to tell you what you “should” do for the holiday.  Listen to yourself, trust yourself, communicate with your family, and do what works for you.
  45. Seek gratitude.  I am the queen of holiday funk, so I know this is tough.  But try to find one daily gratitude throughout the holiday season.  Write it down, photograph it, share it on Facebook.  Whatever.  Just look for the little things.
  46. Watch the food.  Food can make us feel better in the short-term (damn you, dopamine!) until we feel like crap later that we ate that whole tin of holiday cookies.  Don’t deprive yourself, but be careful that you don’t let food become your holiday comfort.
  47. Watch the booze.  Alcohol can become a fast friend when we are grieving. If that holiday party is getting to be too much, head home instead of to the open bar.
  48.  If you are stressed about making the holiday dinner, ask someone else to cook or buy dinner this year.
  49. If you are stressed about the crowds at the mall, cut back on gifts or do your shopping online.
  50. Splurge on a gift for you. Grief can make us feel a little entitled and self-involved, and that is okay sometimes (within reason, of course).  Splurge on a holiday gift for yourself this year, And make it a good one!
  51. Say yes to help.  There will be people who want to help and may offer their support.  Take them up on their offers.
  52. Ask for help.  If people aren’t offering, ask.  This can be super-hard if it isn’t your style, but it is important.  Asking others to help with cooking, shopping, or decorating can be a big relief.
  53. Have a moment of silence during your holiday prayer or toast in memory of your loved one.
  54. Donate a holiday meal to a family in need through a local church, salvation army, or department of social services.
  55. Identify the people who will be able to help and support you during the holidays and identify who may cause you more stress.  Try to spend more time with the former group and less with the latter.
  56. Make some quiet time for yourself.  The holidays can be hectic, make quiet time for yourself to journal, meditate, listen to music, etc.
  57. Practice self-care.  I know, how cliché.  But it is true – whatever it is that helps you recharge, do it.
  58. Support kids by doing a memorial grief activity together.
  59. Donate altar flowers or other holiday decorations at your place of worship in memory of your loved one.
  60. Prioritize and don’t overcommit.  When the holidays are filled with so many parties, dinners, and events, save your energy for those that are most important. Look at everything you have to do and rank them in order of importance.  Plan for the most important and skip the rest.
  61. Make a list and check it twice.  Grief makes it harder for us to concentrate and remember things.  When you have a lot going on at the holidays, make a list even if you aren’t usually a list-maker, and write things on the calendar.
  62. Skip it.  Really.  If you just can’t face the holiday it is okay to take a break this year.  Before you get to this extreme, consider if you could just simplify your holiday.  If you do skip, still make a plan.  Decide if you will still see friends or family, go see a new movie, or make another plan.
  63. Enjoy yourself! The holidays will be tough, but there will also be love and joy.
  64. Remember, it is okay to be happy – this doesn’t diminish how much you love and miss the person who isn’t there this holiday.  Don’t feel guilty for the joy you do find this holiday season.

Child loss is not a single event. Child loss is a lifetime of change — change that was uninvited, unwanted, and so full of pain. Sometimes people forget that child loss is forever — they talk about losing a child like we were injured, went to the doctor, got a pill, and then got all better. It doesn’t work like that! Once a heart is shattered, it can never be put back together as a complete heart again. There will always be scars, and pain, and part of our heart missing. Child loss is forever, and that’s the hardest part of all — knowing the “forever” part.

Blessings to Everyone

Tiana-Lynn and My “Little One”  Sarah Shekinah-Marie