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Welcome Introduction to Holiday Care Courier The Rev. Maureen Doherty, Grief Support Coordinator

Posted on November 12, 2020

As we come to the final couple of months of the year the general feeling is that this will be a good year to bring to an end; it has been heavy and complicated in too many ways. As we think about this though, we are also looking ahead to the most traditional holidays of the year for many—Thanksgiving, Hanukkah, Christmas, Kwanzaa, Eid al-Fitr (the breaking of the Ramadan Fast). Some of these are religious holidays, some cultural, some National but each is a time of gathering, celebrating, remembering and annually we look forward to this. This year it will be different. 

       The year has brought us to a time of making decisions about “gathering in wellness and safety.” What about church, mosque, synagogue services? How about family and friends, community meals? This is hard and for those of you who are grieving this adds a layer to your already heavy hearts. You have lost loved ones, spouses, parents, children, friends and the grief journey is long. Holidays have a way of bringing about gladness, laughter, good memories, and many tears. So how do we walk the next couple of months in wellness?

A few years ago in our Grief Support Group, one participant who had lost her husband reminded the group that when things get hard, “GO TO THE GOOD MEMORIES.” These words have worked their way into each group and, there is great wisdom in this. As you look at Thanksgiving traditions, Christmas decorations, listen to the music of the season, what are the best memories? Let these touch your heart and in this space decide what will be the best way for you and family to celebrate, or not this year. 

This week I turned to those who are currently attending group to advise you on how to walk through the holidays. Who better to speak to each grieving heart than those who are on the journey? The advice went this way: 

Go somewhere different, not where the holidays were spent for the last 30, 40, 50 years.

For this year, try to keep a few of the old ways and start a new tradition.

Holidays are sacred times. Do something sacred. Like  reading a letter, saying a loved prayer, singing a favorite song, eating something that your loved one enjoyed.  JUST a little something, don’t overdo.

Share a dessert. Bring out one pie and lots of silverware and dig in!

Talk about the good memories. Ask each person gathered to share a memory. Laughing, crying, take a moment of silence...all good.

Don’t try to avoid talking about the death of your loved one. Every person gathered is thinking about it. 

       If you have not been doing it, start writing a journal each day. What are your memories, joys, sorrows, good steps forward, moments of feeling stuck. You begin to see how you are doing and treasure the past and each day.

       What decorations do you need? What is special? How about a tree? It may be hard to put somethings out, a yet sadder if you don’t do something.

       It is an “uppy / downy” time. Walk one day at a time. 

       Take the time you need for yourself. Let friends and family know when you just need space and honor the space that they may need.

This might not be the best season of the year to think about clearing personal items, selling, moving, just be where you are and give thanks. Draw strength from what each holiday is meant to give.

“Give thanks to the Lord; call upon his name, make known his deeds among all.” Blessings as you walk each day of these holy, holiday, grieving, remembering days. 

***This issue also  deals very specifically with COVID 19 and the grief that this has added to so many. Know that you are not alone. Support is here if you need an ear, people to be with. ▪

 

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