Tag Archives: Christmas

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When Family Causes Grief at the Holidays

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.

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Christmas 2013

Christmas Balls on Sixth AveOn this Christmas Day, 2013, I wish to thank all my followers for their dedication as well as those who visit my site.

May your holiday season bring much happiness to you and your family.

And if you are missing someone special this year, I hope you will find a bit of comfort in sharing your stories, especially those which will bring a smile to your face…even a chuckle.

You are always in my thoughts…

OK

Christmas 2011

On this Christmas evening, I’m sitting with my family all relaxing together after a memorable day and eve.

We’ve shared wonderful food, delicious desserts, fun gifts and so much laughter our sides hurt. There is something about spending time with my family when we goof around with each other, making each other scream and double-over with laughter.

Today was especially memorable as my niece became engaged. Her fiance, in front of all of us, so calmly and with such tenderness, expressed his love for her, recounting the moment he knew for certain she was the one for him, and then asked her to marry him.

Everyone reached for their phones to video the event and my niece was so overjoyed, she beamed. She could barely stand still she was so excited.

And then the ring…a beautiful little blue box from Tiffany. She is thrilled.

At that point it became a frenzy of all the relatives and friends we must call to share the wonderful news. Everyone was asking the other, “Did we call Uncle Harold, and Aunt Fran and Aunt Millie.”

Calls to Hawaii, Long Island, Philadelphia, Korea, Miami…just so much fun hearing their reactions.

And on the flip side, at this time of year, I am so thoughtful and reflective about all the people I know and even may never meet, who won’t have this type of excitement during the holidays.

Not just folks who may have experienced a loved one’s death, but those who simply do not have family or friends nearby to celebrate, hug, dine with, laugh with and just have the opportunity to be with family and friends.

A piece of my heart hurts for their loneliness this day. It always does. I guess because I’ve been there.

I remember times when I wasn’t near my family over Christmas. Times when our grief was so overwhelming that we actually felt worse to be with family. They were laughing and having a good time while I was feeling so horrible inside that we just couldn’t share the day with them.

I felt so alone, so lonely, so out of place, so unsettled. I couldn’t calm my emotions so it was easier to stay away than to participate.

As time went on, I became emotionally stronger and could deal with everyone’s happiness because I had then allowed myself to feel happiness again for longer periods of time. And eventually, my joy returned as I realized me being unhappy because the persons I loved were no longer with me, wasn’t doing me any good at all. Martyrdom is a horrible by-product of grief that we somehow instill in ourselves and never helps us at all.

So my heart today is with the happiness of my niece and new nephew, but also all those who feel alone whether physically away from family and friends, or spiritually away as a result of a loved one’s death.

I wish you serenity and comforting memories of wonderful times you enjoyed with them in the past.

Remember…no one can take those delightful memories from you…ever.

All you need do is close your eyes and envision them with great clarity to lift your spirits.

You have the power to shift, even if for only a few moments at a time, from grief to comfort, grief to calm, grief to joy, grief to laughter. You can make that happen for yourself…at any time you choose.

So do have a lovely Christmas and holiday season. I am holding you in my heart.

OK

First Christmas Without Your Loved One

After the death of someone close, no one holiday is more difficult to endure than Christmas.

Everyone around us is in the holiday spirit, buying gifts, decorating trees, baking cookies, arranging tables for dinner, cooking delicacies and family-guarded secret recipes. And while you may be participating in body, your soul just isn’t into it this year.

No surprise there. When your heart is aching for the loved one who is no longer near you, you try very hard to get into the Christmas spirit…to feel genuinely happy. But it doesn’t seem to be working.

If I could tell you just one thing today it would be this…it’s ok. No one said you must be overjoyed every single Christmas of your life.

We will go through peaks and valleys whether we like it or not. We will experience happy and sad times and if this is your first sad Christmas, it’s all new to you.

Those who have had other sad Christmases will tell you that they all can’t be perfect. Life hands us tough times and our job is to never forget those who go before us, yet find a way to still live our lives.

Some Christmases are just more painful than others. Some are filled with happy memories and maybe this Christmas you’ll see others enjoying themselves, but inside you, it’s not the same this year.

So if someone close to you died this year, just know you are allowed to feel sad, broken, unfocused, disinterested, jealous of others’ joy and intact families, loneliness, despair, anger, bitterness, frustration, depression.

I’ve been in your shoes before and it’s just miserable. And the only thing that helped even a little, was trying to remember the happy times spent with that individual. In an effort to keep them alive, I’d talk about them out loud. When we were at the dinner table, I’d start by saying, “Do you remember when…” and tell a funny story about them.

Now some family members were a bit silent when I began, because they weren’t sure how it would all go over. Exactly what is the grieving protocol during Christmas dinner anyway? Well whatever people imagine it should be, I usually broke that myth and kept going. I really didn’t care because somehow I didn’t have a very high tolerance for nonsense or other people’s opinions anymore.

And an interesting thing happened, the elephant left the room, people started to laugh at the stories, some added onto them, told their own stories and, yes, some folks even cried, but it didn’t matter. We were no longer worried about saying their name out loud nor were we walking on eggshells around each other. Those awkward silences and pauses had left with the elephant and boy, was I glad for that!

So if this happens to be your first Christmas down the grief path, don’t be so concerned about ‘doing the correct thing’ because nobody really knows what the correct thing is. Just open up because you’ll probably be the only one who has enough guts to start talking out loud about them and guaranteed, someone will thank you.

Mostly, you will feel better…and Christmas dinner will be much easier to bear.

Sending you love on this special day! xoxo

OK

This Wonderful Christmas Day 2008

So here I am in Florida visiting with parents, family and friends in from all around the United States. It’s a wonderful time for my family.

The decorations in this magical house are courtesy of my sister-in-law, Katie who makes her home so inviting. Little white lights, red ribbons, and ornaments everywhere.

Even the little doggies have tuxedos on today and they bring us all such great joy.

Pictures are snapping everywhere and food, some which has been prepared for days, has been beautifully displayed and will soon be enjoyed. The grill is on and the last minute foods are being cooked now.

I look around the living room and there are numerous conversations going on…the young 2o year old crowd conversing on what their IPOD’s contain, the Moms trading experiencings and laughter surrounding their child raising escapades, young love blossoming in the family for my college-aged niece and her boyfriend.

All the youngest of the family are doting on my two-year old nephew in from California and whom I’ve had the pleasure of being around for only the third time. It’s amazing what distance does to family relationships. But today, I’m especially grateful to be playing around with and witnessing this young one, Elijah, opening his Christmas gifts this morning. It’s an experience I haven’t had since his older brother, Brandon was a babe.

As one of my brothers will be moving to Hawaii next month, I find myself especially aware that it may be a few years again until I’ll have the experience of enjoying all of us being in the same town to spend Christmas together.

But today as I watch everyone enjoying themselves in mini-conversations all around my brother’s home, I am reminded that joy comes from surrounding ourselves with people whom we love and who love us.

In my line of work, someone precious to us can be gone in a moment. So I guess I’m even that much more appreciative and some would say ‘sensitive’ to the recognition that life can change literally in a heartbeat.

No one knows what tomorrow may bring. Or if we’ll even have another experience like I’m enjoying right this moment, as my eldest niece Ashleigh cozies up next to me. She and her sisters mean the world to me. They will always bring such joy to my life.

Let us always be grateful for the precious lives that touch us everyday. With all the turmoil in our world today…the economy, the prices, the wars, the fighting about the right laws of our land, the credit crunch…let us always remember the great gift anyone can give to each other is the time and experiences we share with those we love.

Time is the greatest gift we can give. All the things in our lives can be replaced. They can be found again. But the hugs and love and comfort and experiences with family…this exact special moment in time…can never, ever be captured again.

May you always treasure these moments.

Blessings to all of you on this Christmas Day!