Grief often makes us slow down. We simply don’t have energy, and we must allow our bodies and souls to rest more. Yet, this does not have to mean that our being still signifies an absence of growth. As we practice self-compassion and give ourselves permission to have periods of rest and stillness, we can use those quiet moments for good. Perhaps, we can use our imagination!
Do you know that child development specialists are expressing concern for our youth today? They contend that because children grow up with so much pressure on them, such as to perform academically, athletically, and to balance so many extracurricular activities, and because their schedules are demanding, children often don’t have time to play and use their imagination. When they do have some free time, they often spend it using social media or playing video games, so their minds are not free to dream and discover their unique talents and gifts. These issues can lead to children growing up and never developing their own interests, passion, or values.
Adults also need time to use their imagination, but we, too, are often so overwhelmed and busy that we stay preoccupied. This is one reason so many people are trying yoga and to practice mindfulness, so that they can become more aware of and appreciate the present moment instead of dwelling on the past or worrying about the future. When was the last time you unleashed the powers of your imagination?
My husband Arvie is a musician who is dealing with multiple losses, including the unexpected death of his band manager Joe. Joe entered into Arvie’s life just as Arvie contemplated laying his musical aspirations aside after experiencing burn-out from touring and spending many long nights in smoky bars. However, because Joe truly believed in Arvie, in his vocal talents, songwriting abilities, in moving the hearts of the crowd, but most importantly, in him as a person, Arvie experienced a renewed passion to write and perform.
Joe’s sudden death created a void in Arvie’s soul. It is incredibly painful to lose someone who wholeheartedly believes in us. So, shortly after Arvie released his last album, he decided to take a break from music. His old fans have clamored for him to come back and perform, but Arvie now sits quietly at home at night. He reads a lot more now and even goes to bed early. We laugh now and wonder how we ever stayed out and about three or even four nights a week until the wee hours of the morning! These days, we often doze off in the middle of a movie!
At first, I confess I worried that Arvie had lost his passion because no matter how often he was invited to perform, he simply had no interest. Instead, he and I went for long hikes or would just sit outside on the deck enjoying nature. Since I suddenly had more time, I wrote a book dedicated to Arvie entitled Christmas Without Grandmother as he has also been dealing with the death of his last grandparent. This book is designed to help children with grief. The problem was, I had no idea how to go about finding an illustrator, so I implored my friends to ask around. Several more months of living quietly and peacefully went by and out of the blue, Arvie announced he would like to try illustrating my book. Though Arvie is a man of many talents, I honestly had no idea that he could draw, but of course, I wanted to give him a shot.
Sometimes, when we have our moments of quiet, an old dream may come to mind. Perhaps we recall something that we enjoyed doing when we were children. Or, maybe there is something YOU always wanted to do and never did. Arvie said that music was so consuming that he never developed his drawing skills. As a child, he took advanced art classes, but it had been many years since he had drawn anything, and it was something that he used to enjoy.
So, the last few months, though Arvie is still mostly quiet, he has been drawing and he is definitely hired to illustrate Christmas Without Grandmother! Whether he ever performs again is his choice, but in this season of quiet, he is content being alone and not on stage and creating beautiful artwork. I hope that you can use your time of grief to use your imagination and dream again of what may bring you joy in the future!
Christmas Without Grandmother will be released in the fall of 2017 and is designed to help children to cope with the loss of a loved one, particularly through the holiday season.