Sunday, November 21, 2010

As we approach the holidays, perhaps....

Perhaps, we can decorate our home, and our new life, with the treasures that speak of our history, finding joy in the memories that they spark. Maybe, we'll bring with us some of the old, add a few pieces of the new, and practice the art of blending yesterday with today in the hope of creating another memory for tomorrow.

Perhaps, we can hang the special ornaments, or polish the menorah, and cherish the warmth of the love of which these symbols remind us. No one has to know the pain that we may be experiencing, even as we relive the pleasure and joy of having these objects in our life now.

Perhaps, we can gather with loved ones and count our blessings; counting not only the people around the table, but including ALL those whose lives have touched ours in countless ways. One does not have to be present to be alive in our hearts. Afterall, we shared a few moments of our life journey together and our hearts will never forget, even when others do.

And, perhaps, it may be that nothing will fit this year. But, the situation will get better, improving with age, or experience, or patience. We will probably always be a bit unsettled, unnerved when the roll-call finds a name missing or a chair empty. But, then, why shouldn't we be a little sad when a light goes out in our world?

So, this holiday season, try to look for things to enjoy. Gather in your blessings and count them ALL. Count the blessings of ALL the people in your life story, both present and deceased, and find the peace that comes from experiencing another holiday of joys recalled and love shared. And, just perhaps, the holidays will be better than you think they will be.

I wish you love-filled holidays and a new year of peace and joy.

A few helpful ideas for dealing with the holidays

Grief is never easy. Working through our grief, learning how to survive our loss, is a process---a process made more difficult by big family holidays. As we enter the end of the year, the time of year filled with the most intense and meaningful of holidays, here are a few ideas for dealing with the holidays and your loss.

1. Do not try to be brave. Take time to cry and just "be with" your grief. And, yes, strong men do cry.

2. Share your grief with others. Do not try to protect friends or family with silence. If friends or family cannot, or will not, listen....OR...if you feel like a burden to them, this may be a good time to contact a grief counselor, or a psychologist, or a pastoral counselor. Please do not allow yourself to feel isolated or lonely.

3. Please take care of your self. YOU ARE IMPORTANT and so is your health. . Try to eat well and exercise regularly. Even a short walk around the block will produce biochemical changes that can affect your attitude and you'll sleep better.

4. Please forgive yourself for everything you thnk you did "wrong." You did the best you could. Okay, maybe you didn't give your best every single day, but there was so much going on at the time and you had so many stressors in your life that you did the best you could, even if it wasn't the VERY best you could have done every single day. Remember that you were there for for the person you loved, and that is what is important.

5. Accept that there is no truly acceptable answer to the question, "Why?" Maybe your grief counselor or your spiritual counselor can help you find peace with this question. Just remember: you do NOT have to go through this alone.

6. Do purposeful work that brings meaning to eacg day and to your life. Bringing meaning into your life during a time when you may be questioning the meaning of life, God, religion, or previous choices, can be very beneficial. Volunteering to help the less fortunate, reading to children at the library, getting involved with your religious institution's outreach program can have a personally uplifting effect.