The clocks have been turned back and the weather is changing, signaling the end of summer and our moving into a new season. Much like a new season during the year, so it is in life.
Fall is particularly difficult for many people because we are thrust into a world of holidays; Rosh Hashanah, Yom Kippur, Thanksgiving, Hanukkah, Christmas, Kwanzaa and the New Year. Each one holds a promise all its own, with messages of faith, gratitude, and hope. But what if we aren’t feeling those things? What if we are too sad to feel the presence of God in our lives? What if we aren’t grateful because our loved one was taken from us too soon? What if we feel hopeless and lost?
The holidays are a beautiful time of year. However, it is often a reminder of those we loved and lost. Going through the holiday season can leave us feeling empty and lonely. It can remind us of a period in our lives that was filled with grief and despair. In fact, many people continue to feel that way long after their loved one has passed. So, what can we do to get through the holiday season and not just survive, but thrive?
One way is to establish new traditions. Yes, the old ones were wonderful but they can stored and put away in our hearts; a keepsake. They are a treasure to be taken out and marveled at periodically.
New traditions, on the other hand, help us move on with our lives. They set a completely new tone. If your holiday was once a flurry of presents, what about giving back to those less fortunate? Perhaps attend a service at temple or church? What about meeting up with friends and have desert and coffee, rather than a big meal? Help serve food at your local homeless shelter? Think about memorializing your loved one by getting out old pictures and scrapbooking with a grandchild or baking cookies from their tattered recipe cards and share the stories you grew up with; the tales you were often regaled with.
What if your loved one dies just before a holiday? For some, just going to church or temple or reading from a Holy book is sufficient. For others, carrying on as you normally would is the right thing to do, as that is what your loved one would want. Or perhaps doing something completely different. As the time approaches for a particular holiday, search your heart. See how you are feeling. What do you think is right? The truth is, it doesn’t really matter what you decide because in the end, it will be the right decision for you.