It’s Christmas and it would be nice if everyone’s family could understand the grief we are feeling and the intensity of it. Whether we are grieving a loved one’s death, in the thick of a divorce, have been transplanted to another city for work and can’t make it home, or simply have those pesky folks in the family who are feuding for some nonsensical thing that happened years ago and no one’s made up yet, Christmas always seems to open up wounds in some manner.
It’s like that proverbial band-aid that keeps getting pulled off opening up the scab again. It just doesn’t seem to fully heal.
And there are just some wounds that may never heal, yet for us to move forward with life, we need to find a balance.
A very good friend had a miserable Christmas this year because she still believe it’s her siblings’ role to visit her for Christmas. She can’t understand why they won’t.
They’ve all had their share of wounds from past hurts but no one will give in, leaving my friend lonely and sad on what should be the joyous of holidays.
So instead of letting it go and enjoying herself with her friends and turning them into her new family, she made herself sick because it didn’t turn out the way she wanted it. And instead of having dinner with neighbors who wanted to make it a wonderful holiday for her, she decided not to attend.
All I could think about is ‘how foolish.’
You have people who love you here, but you’re still trying to control a situation with actual family over a thousand miles away. That helps no one, most of all her.
Sometimes you have to cut your losses and realize you cannot control anyone but yourself.
You can’t change anyone but yourself.
So, perhaps one day, she will let that be and embrace the ones who do love and care about her. They just don’t have the same last name.
In the United States today we celebrate Thanksgiving Day, a tradition that dates back to when the pilgrims shared a meal with the native indians when the first settlers came to this country from Europe.
Later, President Abraham Lincoln would declare this day as an annual opportunity to thank God for the blessings He has bestowed on our people and our great land. And, yes, in the politically correct environment we live in, he specifically asked all Americans to thank ‘God’.
But for my readers, who are often those who are grieving a loss of some kind on this day, it can feel difficult to really find anything that we could be grateful for when we are in such pain. And this is a place where I have been in the past, too.
But I’d like you to know that just because you are hurting so deeply from the death of someone close, or the divorce, or the financial loss, or whatever you are dealing with, it is acceptable to still feel times of happiness.
Sometimes we won’t allow ourselves to delve into the happy bucket for fear of how others might judge us (“How can she look so happy when her father just died?”). Or when we ourselves feel guilty because we’re not grieving properly.
Well I’m here to tell you that there is no ‘right’ way to grieve. There is no ‘right’ timing when grief is finished. There is no ‘right’ way you can please all your family and friends and I don’t want you to try, because, quite frankly, if they are putting guilt on you, nothing you do will make them happy anyway. It’s time for them to get their own life and build their own happiness after someone’s death.
The only person’s grief you are responsible for is your own. You can help soothe another family member and listen to them, but ultimately it’s their journey and they will undoubtedly walk it in a different manner and timing than you, but that’s just fine. We aren’t all the same and we don’t all grieve the same as another family member.
So on this Thanksgiving, take some time to value what you do have in your life. Honor the great memories you shared with your loved one who is no longer here. Share those memories with those whom you will spend this day…aloud of course.
And even if you think it will be painful to even bring up their name at dinner, it probably will be and tears may be shed and, guess what, it’s absolutely ok. And, yes, even if it’s been a dozen years, holidays can be hard thinking how you’d really love for them to be sitting at the table next to you just one more time.
So shed the tears and raise a glass to their memory. Talk about them, share what makes your life great at this point in your life. Share how they shaped your life for the better.
And mostly realize just how far you have come in your journey. You are still moving forward, you are still moving toward your dreams, and you can still find things to be grateful for.
I wish you a memorable day. They are with you in spirit and nothing and no one can ever take that away.
I guess when I hear these kinds of things I wonder, “Exactly how is that any different than national chocolate cupcake day,” which, by the way, two years ago my colleague and I celebrated by baking for the entire team.
And some would say that I’m not showing the proper reverence for this day, but, I must tell you, quite the contrary.
You see I don’t believe that declaring something as significant as the grief of grieving children to only one day of the year is quite fair. It’s not as frivolous or as carefree a day as enjoying a favorite cupcake, or taco, or dance class. No, it’s far more serious and, well, frankly, it bothers me.
I don’t think of this ‘day’ as something to celebrate. I don’t think of this day as something that happens once a year. And, to a certain extent, I think it’s misleading.
Grief, when we are in the thick of it, lasts every day and all moments of that day and, then, many, many days and months and years onward.
It’s not something we only recognize once a year. Because when you love deeply, you grieve deeply and that pain should never only be acknowledged today. Not for grieving children and not for adults. It should be an awareness every day.
Over 2.5 million Americans alone die each year leaving millions more folks to grieve their deaths. If you consider 100 people for each death who will be affected, that’s 250 million grieving people each year and many of them are children, and teens and young adults.
Do we really know the correct statistic of how many children grieve? Absolutely not and we never will. They can never be recorded properly so if you see stats flying around today, discount them.
How would you count the grieving siblings, classmates, teammates, neighbors? You can’t. So don’t try.
So although well intentioned, giving a ‘day’ to such an incredibly wide-reaching topic, seems quite superficial to me.
Today on Veterans Day in the United States, we honor those who have not only served in our military through war times as well as peace times, or those who gave the ultimate sacrifice and never returned home, but to the families whose lives were irreparably changed either through loss of life or loss of limbs, emotional stability, or other impairment that changed who those men and women are now compared to whom they were when they first left their loving families.
War changes everything. No one comes home the same. And no one lives their lives in quite the same manner ever again.
Some of the highest rates of suicide and PTSD are among the military, yet our Veterans Affairs Department hasn’t put the level of importance on these issues as I believe they should.
These men and women have given so much to us; it seems incomprehensible that we would not offer them the same high level of care that we afford our congress members.
And if a life is lost, what care do we give to those who have survived…the spouses, children, parents? Is it enough and over a long enough period of time?
The priority of our constitution tells us that it is the government’s job to keep us safe and free. So it stands to reason that those who insure that mandate should be our highest priority.
Hopefully now that housecleaning and demotions have been imposed on many in the VA by a new leader with guts, perhaps now we will see the proper care and concern for those who gave so much.
Yesterday, in my own community here in Lake Mary, Florida, not even a mile from me, a 14 year-old boy in our middle school went into a bathroom stall and shot himself to death. With the recent death of Robin Williams and the suicide deaths of so many whose parents and siblings I have worked with over the years, there is a great need to truly understand how depression wreaks havoc on an individual’s ability to reason.
Nothing comforts me more than when another writer has the guts to truly put it all out there. I have done this many times on my blog, telling the good, bad and ugly of the aftermath of death and, while it’s difficult to read and comprehend that humans feel and live through such crisis, it is very, very real and very honest and should never be taken lightly, either by family, friends and especially business colleagues, who are usually so busy they dismiss many emotions.
I know how difficult it is for those who love you to grieve a death by suicide. There are countless questions, self-blame, years of trying to recover, if it’s even possible, and the guilt, shame and anger. If you are even considering this and find yourself in a deep depression either because you yourself are now grieving the death of a loved one, or you are dealing with what seems like insurmountable challenges, please read Therese’s work below.
If you need to speak with someone, please go to “Crisis Connections.” Click on there for help in your area. Don’t be ashamed or embarrassed. You can remain anonymous. Let someone listen. You deserve to be heard. Read more…