Friday, January 20, 2006

In December, my family and I attended a ceremony held at the funeral home that hosted the services for my mother. We were welcomed to "a place where grief and Christmas could come together, safely and appropriately". It was a lovely service - not overly sentimental yet warm and meaningful. And yes, I cried but I also laughed and yes, that really was okay.

It felt good to be in a place, where for a few hours, tears and joy were acceptable, were the norm, a place where you didn't have to worry about upsetting someone else or ruining their good time - because all of us were in the same boat.

There were tips and suggestions of ways to cope and make it through what is often one of the most difficult times of the year - it isn't just one day but a whole season. I took some of the pamphlets "I can't face the holidays!" to leave a couple in the lunchroom at work.

Friends and acquaintances, coworkers and even relatives often don't know what to say. Often we respond to "how are you" with "I'm okay". And there it ends, but what we might say instead is, "I'm doing okay but it is really difficult right now". To "If there is anything I can do, let me know", we might take them up on that. If you really want to have home baked goodies for example maybe invite the person over to help you bake one afternoon. Or let them take you out to the mall, go for coffee.

Grief saps our energies, our minds, our bodies and spirits. It's a time when we need to give ourselves permission to accept the gifts others offer us, to give ourselves permission to be happy and sad at the same time.

Many of us are going through that kind of time, grief is about loss after all. December is the time many of us, no matter what our faith, face the pressures and dilemas of celebration and feasting, to be seen going about life as if nothing has happened.

When we grieve, we need to remove as much of this pressure as we can. Change things if that makes it easier for us, change a lot, or a little or do things the same way. But talk it over with your family. Do whatever brings you ease and comfort.

It's okay to be sad and happy at the same time. You are not losing your mind. It is the season and the time. You will get through it.

I'm going to close this entry with one of the readings from that evening:

  • In the rising of the sun and in its going down, we will remember them.
  • In the blowing of the wind and in the chill of winter, we will remember them.
  • In the blueness of the sky and in the warmth of summer, we will remember them.
  • In the rustling of leaves and in the beauty of autumn, we will remember them.
  • In the beginning of the year and in its end, we will remember them.
  • When we are weary and in need of strength, we will remember them.
  • When we are lost and sick at heart, we will remember them.
  • So long as we live, they shall live, for they are now a part of us, as we remember them.

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