by Peggy Sweeney
Fall is my favorite time of the year. I enjoy the cooler weather, the beautiful colors of Mother Nature, the crunching leaves underfoot, breathtaking sunsets, and bright full moons. Soon it will be time for us to put on warm clothes and snuggle in for the cold, snow, and icy days of Old Man Winter.
Before we know it, the holiday season will be here. This year, though, the pandemic has changed all of our previous years’ plans for a joyous time. Most families and friends will not travel from near and far to gather around a holiday table a king would surely envy. We may skip the extra hours of cleaning the house, hunting up traditional recipes, and cooking delicious, once-a-year meals. We won’t get caught up in the hustle and bustle of shopping at the mall for buying gifts to exchange at Christmas and Hanukah. This year, many of us will ring in the New Year alone.
My mother would often tell me, “This too shall pass,” when I was disappointed that life didn’t present itself as I would have liked.
What is most difficult for me today is not being able to hug and kiss those I love. Mom’s words sustain me in spite of the pandemic.
There is no doubt that I will be able to travel again to visit family and friends. Hugs and kisses will be abundantly shared with everyone.
If you are newly bereaved, you may ask yourself what is there to celebrate when someone you love has died. How can anyone be happy when feeling sad and lonely? Why should you give thanks when your heart is empty, and you do not seem to have a reason for living? Thanksgiving. Christmas. Maybe this year, we should cancel them.
During the past year, perhaps your child died. Maybe it was a spouse, parent, friend, or cherished relative. What do you have to be thankful for this holiday season? Give thanks for the life this person lived. Give thanks for the love that was given and received. Give thanks for the memories of your days together. Laughing times and crying times. Good days and not so good days. Celebrations and memorable holidays of days gone by.
Even though we may not be together on Thanksgiving Day, let us remember those who have died. Let us celebrate their life by sharing memories. Mention them by name. Tell stories of special times together. Yes, there is sadness in remembering, but joy in knowing they will always live in our hearts. Memories are forever!
I would hate to have these family days of Thanksgiving and Christmas erased from the calendar. I believe that every day should be a day of thanksgiving. Let us begin this season by focusing on the true meaning of the holidays. Our culture has chosen a path that emphasizes the material things in life rather than the richness of the gifts and talents we possess and those of our friends and loved ones.
Even though you are grieving, you have much to be thankful for. Give thanks for your loving friends who unselfishly walk your grief journey with us. They share many warm hugs to lift your spirits. You should be grateful for your tears and sobs that help to remove the pain in your heart. Cherish the pictures and mementos of your loved ones that give you something tangible to hold. Give thanks for the lessons you’re learning on your journey through grief.
On a personal note, I have many blessings to be thankful for this year. I give thanks for my family and friends. I am grateful for warm, sunny days and quiet hours. For all the families and professionals who have placed their trust in me to help them understand and cope with their many losses. I am incredibly grateful for the men and women in the first responder and healthcare professions, particularly my brothers and sisters in the fire and EMS services. I thank God for the special people in my life who have given me love and hugs during my grief journeys.
Although this year may be filled with sadness and grief for many of you, I wish everyone a loving day of thanksgiving. I pray that you will find comfort to be able to celebrate the many blessings you have received over the years.
The pandemic? This too shall pass.
Copyright Peggy Sweeney
About the Author: Peggy Sweeney is a retired mortician and continues serving as a bereavement educator. Peggy has over 20 years of experience helping families and professionals cope with personal tragedies. She has served her communities as a firefighter, EMT, and a Hospice volunteer. She has published numerous award-winning articles on loss and grief and continues to share online her personal stories as well as from those who are grieving.