This is a crazily hectic time of year…in every direction, for everyone. Folks are celebrating with joy and fellowship with home comings, Baby’s 1st Christmas, religious traditions, a new puppy, a life lived, time off from work and the list continues. They are full of excitement for it is a wonderful time to gather with family and friends. If this is you…that is awesome. Celebrate this time with everything you have. But for some who may read this blog, they are not celebrating. They lost their job, money’s beating them up, they are terminal, and they can be elderly or alone. Life happens, and no matter how we try to change things, life just keeps happening. This Christmas someone may be arranging a funeral. The holidays won’t hold the same meaning for them this year or in the future. Just like birth, death changed them. Change literally changed everything. I keep trying to remind myself that I am not the only person in this world. That others may be dealing with very difficult times. It’s not hard to understand, I just need a reminder to revisit the understanding. Sometimes I forget… : (
The holidays bring emotional times for all. Emotions can vary based on the situation at hand. We are in tough times globally. “The holidays”, magnifies the experience we are going through. We, for the most part, are STRESSED OUT!!! Money is usually the culprit. Just the thought of buying presents, and the expectation of what our responsibilities are for the season, can be enough to send us right over the edge. My goal here is not to be a bummer during a festive time. (For some it’s festive) But I would be doing you a disservice if I didn’t post a friendly reminder that life’s opposite is real. The calendar does not change the fact that death will present itself to us. It does not matter that it’s Christmas or another celebrated occasion. Some of us don’t think that death is real. Some people think that if they don’t speak about death, it won’t happen. (Period) If they DO talk about it, it is an open invite for the grim reaper to come knockin’. Regardless of what we think, no matter who or what we are…we all die. Death does not discriminate, it has no boundaries. It seems like we are “so not wanting” to think about dying, we don’t realize that by not thinking about it, we are not fully living. Death and life are the only absolutes we experience as human beings. It is imperative in my experience with families, that when something happens and someone dies, there is a common understanding within the surviving family and friends about the process. (Because there is a process) That having a meaningful conversation BEFORE someone dies can really strengthen the bond that seems so desperately needed in our world today. I’ve heard “there’s no getting out of this life alive”.
I meet with families that had no choice but to think about it and deal with the process. They weren’t ready… trying to make good, clear, rational decisions at a vulnerable time regarding what to do with the deceased was challenging at best. Because I’ve had the honor to talk with people during this time, it is obvious to me that in all the people, in all their situations, death HAS to be discussed.
The holiday season may bring depression and loneliness for people. And everyone has their own story to tell. I have received feedback from families where they feel that no one listens anymore. There are groups and organizations available to help those who need assistance. However, people have to know there’s a need so they can take action. Reaching out of our comfort zones and saying we need help is vitally important. Bottom line is that communication is so wonderful and the key to successful outcomes. There may be unspoken signs that someone needs help and we just need to take a moment to look for them. Computers give us an amazing ability to find the resources to help ourselves and others. Even if we look up the information for someone who doesn’t have a computer may seem simple but it could be just the information they needed.
Celebration of Life should be a priority. It is possible to experience relief because someone died, that the focus was the life they lived and celebrating that life was what the family needed. Maybe the deceased had been suffering a long time, making death a blessing for everyone involved. There are so many different scenarios, and from my prospective we are so quick to get on with life, that even death itself isn’t fazing us in terms of getting through the process as fast as possible. SLOW DOWN…what’s everyone in such a hurry for anyways? We may be losing a vital piece of the healing process that may cause us problems in the future we could have avoided. Grief and its resolution is critical to our overall physical and mental health. Not addressing it, will rear its ugly head again…I have seen this too many times.
I ask that you take time this holiday season to just STOP! Stop for a moment to appreciate your life and embrace your mortality. Be a gift to someone. There are so many people that don’t know where to turn or what to do. Helping others will ultimately help you too. There is great personal reward to reaching out to someone with no expectation of getting something in return. Some of the true enduring riches we possess as people are built from love, kindness and compassion. No one has to know of your generosity. Sometimes that’s better, just because. As a professional in Death Care helping those leaving this world or who have left already, may you have true peace and comfort in your life in the coming year. That you are richly blessed with good health and prosperity.
Take it easy!