Now that the Thanksgiving holidays are upon us, we are drawn by a spirit of gratitude that speaks to us. Too often, however, we look around at our world and our lives, and foremost in our minds is not that which is enriching us and bringing us joy, but rather at that which we have lost. Someone significant to us will not be at our Thanksgiving dinner table. The gathering of family for the holiday weekend makes us keenly aware of the fact that someone very special will be absent for all of the sharing and fun that holiday get-togethers can bring.
We do have a choice about how we can keep the memory of our deceased loved ones alive and with us. This may entail including the missing persons, by name, in our blessing before the Thanksgiving meal. In the toast that may be a part of our meal, the names of our loved ones might also be mentioned. Sharing stories of holidays past will most assuredly have those who are gathered remembering and recalling memories that inevitably include the absent loved ones. These are both memorable, as well as humorous. Before very long, our loved ones’ stories and anecdotes are a part of the conversation. Somber or cautious feelings lighten significantly. Those who have been trying to avoid their own sadness or tears, as well as fearing to provoke sadness in others, may soon be laughing and smiling as everyone shares and reminisces.
It does take a bit of courage to start such sharing, and thus it requires the bravest among us to be the initiators. It is good to recognize that the positive results of the endeavor far outweigh any negative or foreboding feelings one may have in being the “initiator”. I would encourage any or all of the practices that were just suggested because I know that they work.
As indicated earlier, the Thanksgiving holidays invite us to be thankful. Taking some quiet time to consider how the special persons who were a part of our lives have enriched them is important. We have been graced by their presence for varying numbers of years. During that time the memories of who they were for us remain. We remember that they had qualities that we have always admired and would choose to emulate in our own lives. We take the time to thank them for having brought the gift of themselves into our world and into our personal lives.
Thankfulness for those who still remain with us is also very much in order. We share love and support with each other as we gather on special occasions like the holidays. We acknowledge that we are able to heal and move forward in our grief journey because of the love and support of these dear persons.
May our good and gracious God shower His blessings upon each of us as we experience this holiday and the next ones that will soon follow.
Since the erratic winter months are upon us, perhaps we could look at the topic of the “winter blues”.
Cold gray days, the snow, and the bleak scenes in nature have a way of affecting our mood and emotional lives. This is especially so when we are also facing personal tragedies, health crises, or the loss of loved ones.
The truth is that experiencing the holiday season (now thankfully over) and the bleakness of the winter months does not necessarily have to be a major problem for us. There are some things we can do to lighten our spirits and cope a little better. Here are a few suggestions that can brighten the days and offset the sad, lonely feelings that want to envelope us at this time.
- Start with your thinking. A positive approach to a new day helps. Decide early on that there will be something happening today that will make it a “good day”. Look for that something! Expect it! Pray for its blessings!
- Have an agenda for each day that will hold promising events, enjoyable encounters with others, or places to go, etc. Many or even one will do.
- Reach out in love and caring to others. A kind word said during a telephone call, a smile or a warm greeting given to a person met, or a listening ear offered to someone in need, can make the caring happen. As we give in love, love will be received and our spirits, no doubt, will be lifted.
- Take some time to reflect not only upon what has been lost and is being grieved, but also upon whom and what we still have left in our lives. This can bring a measure of happiness and peace.
- At the end of the day be thankful for at least one “happening” that brightened the day and brought warmth to your heart. Be grateful and treasure it.
So, let the winter months come! Believe that some happiness can be found, despite whatever may be happening out of doors.