December 1, 2011

Looking up

I wrote a few weeks back about the idea of first firsts…about the space between the life you’re living and the reminders of the past when we take a trip down ‘this time last year’.

For people living with life and sadness and loss the arrival of Christmas can surely shake the ho ho ho’s out of you. I know that I start to resemble the grinch when I see reindeer antlers on cars I secretly hope those little rudolph remnants get ripped off driving into a suburban shopping centre ¬†(can you tell that Christmas isnt my most favourite holiday of the year)?

When I used to work directly with families living with unresolved losses Christmas was a tricky time – the setting of the table reminded people more of who wasn’t there rather than who was. The passing out of presents brought the reality home that the simple gift of giving couldnt be shared with that person. And for those that embraced spirituality the message that they were all part of a family was a little too distant for those who felt they had not much to hold on to.

We might talk about the rituals of loss but the rituals of life are often more closely linked with what is absent. Through the year the times we where are encouraged to sit and be with the ones we love automatically provides the flipside notion of who we dont have.

I didnt necessarily learn any new skills in managing the holiday season from the families I worked with. There werent any top 5 ways to get through the season but I did notice that the art of bunkering down and surviving it became the task that they all aspired to. We all often reflect that in the bracing for the day we hate that once it passes, it becomes a little like a giant life lesson band aid – once we rip it off we see the little scungy mark it left behind and then we try to focus on moving forward again.

Life is an interesting little mix of lessons and learning…for all those living with the first firsts I hope that the morning after gives you some space to breathe, to rip off that bandaid and to keep looking onwards and then ¬†maybe upwards.

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Loss, Mental health

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