On this Mother's Day, in addition to honoring your mothers and mother-figures, I encourage you to celebrate the mother within. You are at the center of not only others that you care for but yourself, too. You are doing the best that you can, and yes, you may falter at times. Don't keep going in those moments and at times of exhaustion. Instead, find ways to replenish yourself.
Do you believe in magic? I do. The holiday and New Year seasons are lovely reminders of its importance; you can feel it in the air if you are still enough. Small acts of kindness, random gestures, or simple adventures can fill your heart and that of others with magic. Hope. Peace.
Hanukkah. Solstice. Yule. Christmas. All these powerful celebrations coincide this week, and while all have different themes and belong to different faiths, they all share one commonality: they celebrate the return of light and hope into a dark world. For caregivers, the holidays can be extremely stressful as we try to balance the needs of others with the needs of ourselves. It can be especially difficult when the people in our care are no longer able to enjoy the holidays they once loved.
As the holidays near, I can't help but think of the relatives who won't be with us as we celebrate Thanksgiving next week, and the other holidays that follow soon after: Hanukkah (we're a multicultural family), Christmas, the New Year. But while my surface thoughts are about the individual people, I find that a deeper dive leads to what I learned from them, and what they taught me about gratitude.
Much like a tornado, the storm of overwhelm can rage up from nowhere and blow you off your feet. Much like a hurricane the emotions and energy that occur when we are near our breaking point are powerful and chaotic. Becoming in tune with our feeling - emotional, physical, and spiritual - is a crucial balancing mechanism providing the early warning signal that tells us things are mounting up. As with intense weather systems, it is critical that we prepare: we must find that balance before the emotional storm takes over.
But what exactly does it mean for light to overcome darkness? So much of this season seems focused on connecting with the positive and celebratory states of happiness, joy, and abundance, from the music played and parties planned to the meals prepared and gifts given. Yet, these states of mind and heart can be hard to connect to for individuals who may also be experiencing hardship and difficulty this time of year.
There is nothing wrong with going to the beach or having a family picnic on Memorial Day. My grandfather, who died when I was twenty-one, often reminded us that he and his compatriots fought for our right to have those parties and picnics. However, it's important to remember that this holiday has a somber element. We are meant to remember the military officers - fathers, mothers, aunts, uncles, grandparents, siblings – in our family. We are meant to honor their service. We are meant to tell their stories.
With holidays upon us, this should be a happy time. Regardless of your faith between scurrying around for gifts, decorating, cooking, perhaps more pressure can be mounting on your already full days of caregiving.
Grief can paralyze you if you let it so don’t be afraid to reach out for help or talk to someone that can understand without judgment.
Holidays can create emotional stress not only in the ‘to-do’s’ but also in the decisions around your loved one.