Every year, the first thing I think of when I hear the word “Christmas” is Mom. My rock. My cornerstone, My always accepting, loving confidant and shining star. I can’t believe she has been gone more than five years. God love her in Heaven.
I am re-posting the blog I wrote for her the first year after she passed. It gives me solace to joyfully remember her. And all of our fantastic Christmases together. I know many of you knew her or felt like you did from my blogs about her. Humble and grateful woman, she was always shocked at her adoration.
And please read down to the end of the blog to watch an old video that warms my heart. Talk about one of the all-time Hall of Fame Random Acts of Kindness from an incredible man.
Have you lost someone precious to you this year or know someone who has?
I never thought I’d write a blog about grief.
And I’m not so sure this one is. I hope it is more about celebrating life.
The Connecticut tragedy, took me to the ground. Senseless. An immoral horror. And at holiday time, even more pathos. Unthinkable. My heart breaks for all those families. Did the thought run across your brain, “What if this had been MY child or grand child or next door neighbor?”
Losing Mom and several classmates and friends this year, and sharing with some of them the loss of their parent, too, brought me to a new mind-expanding awareness.
As a psychologist and coach, I have helped wonderful folks navigate the treacherous tsunami as grief watches over them.
I know in my heart about grief. But FEELING grief cuts to my core. Gut-retching hurt.
A hole in my heart so deep, part of me wonders if it will ever close. I KNOW this is normal, but that is meaningless right now. I KNOW I am a hopeful optimist, but that part of me is sitting in the back seat staring out the window. Looking for a beautiful scene that I am sure will be around the bend. Just not on my radar this minute.
One of my clients who lost her dad this year made a brilliant comment. She said, “When a baby is born, we make a big “tado” about it. We celebrate their birth with grand hoopla. But when a person is near the end of their life, many of them are forgotten. No one takes the time to reminisce with them about the joys of their life, savor their wisdom and celebrate the good stuff. Instead we focus on their dying. She mused, “Why shouldn’t be celebrating with them at the end?” Brilliant!
After we talked, I asked myself, “What would Mom want me to remember about her?” and “How would she like me to celebrate this holiday season?”
I knew the answer. Positive Reminiscing! I would re-visit some of her thousands of travel photos. We always gave each other a set of photos, so I have enough to float a cruise liner! Smiles erupted along with a few tears, as I remembered her life. She was so alive, doing what she loved best, exploring and being in awe of the world. Her gratitude enveloped me like a warm fuzzy chenille robe. Cozy comfort.
As I was typing this, I recalled when she first went into assisted living. I hauled into her room over the months every photo of her life and those of every trip. It amazed me that she looked at them and then said it was OK to throw them away. Wow, what guts. Sentimental me had to save many. Boxes full. Enough to keep busy again for days to come.
I was planning to write a blog, and into my inbox came an email from a lovely man, Rev. Robert J. Voyle. He has written a book about grief, “Restoring Hope: Appreciative Strategies to Resolve Grief and Resentment”. In brief, he explains how you can re-frame grief, suffering and loss. How? Via visualization and re-training your brain. Shrink the hurt and put it IN BACK of you. He tells you how.
I loved his added wisdom:
“If something you are done with won’t go behind you, ask it, ‘What else do you have to teach me before you will go back there.'”
Fascinating! I told Rob, when I put my hurt in a small image behind me, I also left it in the dirt!” My new road was paved with positivity!
Rob soothed my soul, and I am forever grateful he took the time to email me many times. His coping techniques worked for me and lightened my emotional burden.
I borrowed one of the poems in his book, as it reminded me of Mom.
Do not shed tears
when I have gone
but smile instead
because I have lived.
Do not shut your eyes
and pray to God
that I’ll come back
but open your eyes and
see all that I have left behind.
I know your heart
will be empty because
you cannot see me
but still I want you to be
full of the love we shared.
You can turn
your back on tomorrow
and live only for yesterday
or you can be happy
for tomorrow because of
what happened between
You can remember me
and grieve that I have gone
or you can cherish my
memory and let it live on.
You can cry
and lose yourself,
and turn your back
on the world
or you can do
what I want –
smile, wipe away the tears,
learn to love again
and go on.
~ David Harkins
So if your heart is heavy with grief, here are Rob’s links.
I hope and pray his book and writings help you cope and find hope. They surely did for me.
The goal of Rob’s meditation is “to help you remember your loved one with love and gratitude” rather than “not forget them by being miserable.”
I send love to you and thank you for loving Mom along with me.
She was delighted to know blogs about her were always the ones most read. Humbly, she said, “Where did you ever find such kind people? They don’t even know me, but they send me emails and make me happy.” I told her they DID know her heart and loved to read about her life, especially her homespun wisdom and positivity. It was truly how she lived.
Thanks for your gift of love to Mom. I am forever appreciative.
Along with heartfelt memories about your loved ones who have passed on, may your holidays be filled with folks with whom you will create more magic memories.
Now for the short video I promised you.
His story is my gift to you. I hope it touches your heart and soul. It is about Sir Nicholas Winton. His bravery, kindness, and humility will light up your holidays.
Sir Nicholas rescued hundreds of kids during the Holocaust.
He never told anyone. But someone discovered his secret. Fifty years later, the surprise gift was for him! If you have already seen it, please again gift yourself. Feel what true, selfless LOVE is. The greatest of all our positive emotions. I cry every time I watch this video.
He died in 2015 at the ripe old age of 106, but his memory lives on in all the children he saved. What a remarkably poignant positivity generational legacy!
Nicholas’ story has special meaning for me, as my daddy was at Dachau, Germany, when it was liberated. When I lived in Germany, I went to visit Dachau several times. I imaged what Daddy and his Army buddies must have felt and thought when their unbelieving eyes comprehended the sublime horror. I image what it was like to next celebrate the redemption and joy erupting when the prisoners’ freedom was embraced. Hell and hope. Sigh…
If you need help with grieving or any other issue raining on your holiday parade, please do not hesitate to call or email or message me. I love and appreciate coaching motivated folks to help them discover the path to positivity and well-being.
Hope you enjoy my photo of our Christmas tree here in Puerto Vallarta. My first strength is appreciation of beauty and excellence. And I love peacocks! I would love to see your Christmas tree or Hanukkah bush or whatever holidays photos you would want to share.