Friday, November 26, 2010

Holidays & Grieving

The first year after the loss of a loved one is exceptionally painful as you navigate each milestone of the New Year. Every holiday, birthday, family anniversary is redefined without a significant member of the gathering. During the first year, each closet in the home will be visited and belongings of the person are discovered. Their smell and passions are brought to the surface. Memories are revisited. Deep longing for the person is sharpened. The change of seasons brings you further away from the time you were together. The start of a new school year and the transition from summer ignites a new beginning you do not want to welcome. You are desperate to believe the new slate is a dream each time you wake up.

As the year passes, daily routines which are unimaginably painful begin to become normal. Your perspective of what is important has shifted to appreciate the smallest gestures of kindness and the suffering or others as monumental. And, what once seemed significant, in the news, in your neighborhood, in the characteristics of those you interact with, now has no impact on your peace of mind. Laughter can be annoying and sadness feels like home.

As the year rounds out and the 13th month begins, each marker on the calendar is not brand new. You have passed this way before without your loved one. You notice the pain is less intense and realize healing has taken place. Now, the holidays and the seasons are a mixture of sadness, precious memories and the welcoming of peace.

As months turn into years, you initiate new traditions. Memories will warm your heart, appreciation of the love you felt will brighten the new day and a smile will gently relax the muscles of your face. There is now a new form of love to welcome. Though it is not what you would have chosen, somehow it is a profound gift that makes you right size with everyone in your life today.

Holidays bring grieving to the surface in a powerful way, first to acknowledge and feel the pain, later to bring magic from deep in your core into your present moment. Laughter now resonates from within and peacefulness feels like home.

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