With the rigors of holiday 2021 activities behind some, there are those for whom the side effects linger. I speak of my brothers and sisters around the world who face the challenges of navigating special occasions when the inevitability of life lands on their doorstep. I feel compelled to address this special group of people who may sometimes be as easily forgotten as those whose absence they grieve. This is not unusual, particularly when the bereaved is on the receiving end of unrealistic expectations of friends and associates.
My heart goes out to all who doubt their reaction to the inevitable triggers set off by special occasions such as holidays, birthdays, or even thoughts, sights and sounds as they navigate the agonizing grieving process of their loved ones.
While the worldwide interference of Corona virus variants has tempered holiday festivities, what will always remain a constant is the heightened awareness of the void that shows up on special occasions which those in the throes of the grieving process once shared with their loved ones. Many wonder whether they did the ‘right thing’ when faced with the ‘opportunity’ to “get on with their life” and celebrate special occasions dictated by their cultural, social, and religious beliefs.
I know from personal experience that this societal ‘peer’ pressure is all too common, hence my advice to “trust your instinct, and proceed with steps that would aid you and not invade your mental health.” It is important to note that there is no right or wrong way to go about making room to accommodate the memories of your loved ones when special occasions roll by. For the void you will feel is undisputedly a part of the normal grieving process for which there are no set rules in place or time constraints. The only “rule” we should hold ourselves to is one which takes us to a place of self-preservation as we pursue a meaningful life, which would quite naturally include celebrating the love and memories of our dearly departed. Even though this looks like an ambitious task, it is a necessary undertaking which we cannot accomplish in one swoop! Hasten slowly and handle it one step at a time! Do not feel pressured to answer to anyone for deviating from or modifying your holiday traditions. Gracefully request a pass if you should find yourself in that unfortunate position.
Where Do We Go From Here?
In case you are still questioning whether you did the “right thing”, or wondering how you should handle the next situation, it is never too late to put in place, something that will bring you comfort. The following are a few ideas from which you can draw inspiration to develop your own guidelines, as your particular circumstance might dictate.
*Grant Yourself Permission to take time out for self-reflection.
*Introduce an “In Memory of” component to a gathering of close family members or friends who can selflessly relate to you at the next gathering.
*Reflect on the meaningful times you shared with their loved ones. If this has been an elusive concept, I invite you to take time out to explore the possibilities and benefits of this experience. You might like it!
*Celebrate with gratitude the special qualities your loved ones possessed and Honor them by paying forward these qualities they shared with you, your family and community members. While you are at it, give yourself a pat on the back for your contribution to a relationship worth celebrating.
In a social climate that has yet to project a better understanding of the effects that death, dying and grief can have on survivors, it is not unusual that compassion and empathy may never come from expected sources! Whenever you experience a shortage of earthly angels in your life, non-judgmental grief counseling is only a google search away. You might even find mental health providers whose practice focus on cultural, spiritual, or social competency.
Thanks to technology and a purposeful mindset, my day included looking at photographs and watching videos of holiday celebrations in the past that contained pleasant memories of interactions with my father, mother, and husband. I concluded my celebratory activities with the project below, which I completed just in time to share before midnight. Needless to say that the self-actualization goal of these activities far outweighed my desire to publicize them just for the sake of doing so. With that in mind, I hope that this blog will serve as a reminder to those who are struggling with the grieving process of their loved ones that they are not alone and that they do matter if nothing else.
Finally, I invite you to inspect the R factor in MadonaRism that highlights the personal development philosophy of life. Join me in exploring a philosophy that helps me regain my zeal for life, as I rekindle the flame of personal and professional relational dynamics. One that includes a resolve to reset, reactivate, reflect, reinvent, re-evaluate, reshape, rebound, re-emerge, reaffirm, reboot, and regroup in my handling of that which lurks at various stations on life’s journey.