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.