It's "Time" For The Holidays:
Broke For The Holidays?
Give The Gift of Time
By Frank Kermit
One of the reasons that people site as legitimate cause to stay out of dating going into the holidays is the awkwardness of buying a holiday gift for someone that you just started seeing.
Some people even site that the enormous cost of a gift for a significant other is enough to push off any potential new partner until after the start of the New Year.
The presupposition of course is that a gift for someone you are dating must be expensive. Although individuals may feel such a pressure, and some new partners even communicate having this expectation, there is no written rule that a holiday gift for a new partner (or a more established partner) need be an expensive endeavor.
In fact, whether new relationships or ongoing long-term relationships, some of the best gift ideas are centered on sentiment, not expense.
Your time is the greatest gift you can offer someone you love. Forget expensive toiletries, accessories or knickknacks. Offer a home made coupon for one night in, heated left over's, watching a movie, and a relaxing foot massage. If you find someone that appreciates that gift as much as you appreciate giving it, you might also be able to figure out that you have a keeper.
The idea of your Time being possibly the greatest gift for the holidays applies to all relationships, not just the romantic ones.
When it comes to kids, expensive toys can be nice and a novelty. However, with a little imagination, sometimes the box it came in turns out to be more fun.
Grab some crayons, markers, modeling clay (yes, that means you pull yourself from the computer, phone or broadcast episode of whatever), and let those kids teach you the magic of turning an empty box into a castle-pirate-ship-school-bus-that-flies-through-outer-space.
Younger kids may not fully remember everything you did or said at the time, but on some level, they might just remember how you made the kids feel.
On a more serious note, if you share custody of your kids, give some thought about arranging for your kids to spend time with both parents so that your kids can enjoy some family time with both of you without having to be split.
This may not always be possible, depending on the circumstances of the break up.
However uneasy it may be for one, or both parents, toughing it out for just a little bit of time, even just a couple of hours, can mean the world to a child especially if your kids are really hurting from the split this holiday season. Of course, this is taking into account that your situation may not make this possible for a variety of reasons; but if you do have the possibility to make something like this happen without ending up fighting in front of the kids, you might think about taking the opportunity.
Sometimes the time you can gift isn't about you spending time with the recipient of your gift, but to allow the recipient to be able to spend time with someone else.
A home made babysitting voucher to watch the kids to give parents some time for a break and a date-night can be more welcomed than any popular item on sale at the shopping mall.
Do you know someone that is working through most of the holidays, or stuck in a hospital room, someone in mourning, or living in a special care facility?
A trip to spend enough time to have a cup of coffee and catch up on conversation can warm hearts: yours and the person you are giving some time too.
It is easy to get caught up in the gift-frenzy of the holidays. It is also easy to feel that you might be letting some people down if your budget it tight and couldn't afford the nicer items on everyone's gift list.
Time is a gift that most people often overlook as being a valuable gift, until one day they wake up and realize there isn't any left. Make the most of your time and make the most of your holidays.
Gift Giving Guide
For The Stages of Dating
By Frank Kermit
The holiday season tends to also be a time of gift giving for many cultures. Shopping for just the perfect gift for your loved ones can be challenging enough.
However, what if the person you are shopping for is someone that you just started dating?
Perhaps someone you are dating casually and have no plans of introducing the new love at a holiday function.
Perhaps it is someone you are dating in secret without any plans for it to last beyond a few weeks.
Perhaps you had a weekend fling with someone during the year, and although nothing serious came of it, you remember that person fondly.
Are there appropriate gifts for such people?
There is also the dreaded circumstance of wanting to get a gift for an ex of yours, with whom you have remained friends with, or at least are civil with, for the sake of co-parenting or maintaining a social circle.
Gifting has the potential to be as complicated as the people and relationships we have with them.
So to make your holiday gift giving a little easier, here are some tips.
Dating someone regularly, where you see a potential future, requires some thought and planning.
Since this is the person you will likely bring to your holiday parties as your partner, choose a gift that serves two purposes.
First, it should be a gift that shows you have been listening and paying attention to what your partner has been saying.
Second, it would be a good idea (but not necessary) to get a gift that your partner can wear when presented to your family and friends.
For example, if your partner has an affinity for a particular animal, a pendant, broach, or cufflinks related to that animal that your partner could wear when meeting your friends and family may be a good gift.
It makes for a great conversation piece. With that in mind, it could also time to go all the way with an engagement ring (after all, it ‘tis the season).
Dating someone casually, or dating in secret where you will not be presenting him or her to family and friends, calls for a more social gift.
A gift certificate to outings that you both like to frequent usually works well for these relations.
If the two of you spend time together watching movies, then movie gift certificates or online movies to watch at home, are fine choices.
If you are looking for a gift idea for someone that you only shared a short-term dalliance with, keep the gift inexpensive and simple.
A dollar store greeting card is more than enough. (I discourage e-cards, because they often end up in spam folders).
Holiday cards are also great gifts for the ex because although it is a nice gesture, it is nothing so grand that might wrongly communicate a desire to reconcile.
In both cases where you are no longer involved with a person, but still want to share a wish of peace, a standard greeting card is more than perfect.
It really is the thought that counts.
Just do not over think it.
Getting into brand new relationships is tricky enough, but when new relationships start around the holidays, it can be even trickier. In fact, there are even people who boycott dating just before or during the holiday season because they do not want to deal with extra challenges.
One of the challenges that new relationships face during the holiday season is trying to figure out how appropriate it is to attend a holiday gathering, be it an office work party, or a holiday family dinner. It is not always easy to navigate whether or not you need to invite your new relationship partner.
Bringing a new partner to a holiday gathering of any kind is an outward sign to everyone around you that your relationship (no matter just how new it is) is getting more serious. That will be the automatic assumption for most people.
Where this may get unpleasant is when one partner in the new relationship is looking forward to sharing the holiday gatherings together, and the other partner feels that it may be too soon to attend such events as a couple.
Although it is good to know exactly where each of you stands, especially if you both have different views of your status, it can also be disappointing to find out that you and your partner do not seem to agree on the level of commitment that exists.
As a coach, I have been asked if it is wise to bring a new partner to a holiday gathering and to introduce your new partner as -just a friend-. I always advise against this. If you are going to introduce your new partner as just a friend, one of two things is likely to happen.
The first is that people may assume that you are actually involved and wonder what must be wrong with the two of you for not admitting it (perhaps assuming that your partner is already married and cheating?).
The second is that those people who actually believe the two of you are -just friends- may unknowingly make a pass at your partner, in your presence, because they assume that as -just friends-, your companion must be single.
After all, if your companion weren’t single, that person would be out with a significant other, and not hanging with another friend at a holiday gathering.
When trying to resolve this dating dilemma, the issue is not actually how long you have been dating, but rather the level of commitment of your relationship. It does not matter if you only started dating two weeks prior to the holidays, two months prior to the holidays or have had been seeing each other for two years prior to this holiday season.
How long you have been involved is not a deciding factor when choosing to bring your partner to a holiday gathering. It has everything to do with how serious your commitment is to one another and if you are intending to build a future together.
A couple that has only been dating for two weeks but is already secure in the idea of getting married and growing old together should attend holiday functions as a couple. A couple that has been seeing each other dating casually for over a year with zero intention of making any sort of long term commitment should not involve one another into holiday gathers.
If either of the partners in this new relationship is not fully prepared to accept how attending holiday functions together will be interpreted by family, co-workers and friends as a sign of a more serious commitment, then the ethical choice is not to attend them together, until such a time as you get more serious.
Everybody‘s Holiday Happy, Except You
By Frank Kermit
Do you hate it when everyone around you seems to have something extra to celebrate this year for the holidays, except for you?
You aren’t alone.
Sometimes, it can be a little frustrating when holiday announcements from your friends and families seem to leave you feeling a little less merry because somehow, you could end up feeling somewhat, left behind.
It is not always easy to celebrate with others, when whatever it is they are joyous about, is a little reminder that your own life may not be where you thought it would be by now.
In fact, one of the reasons that some people hate the holidays is because of how much they are reminded of just how unhappy they really are.
Did your closest friends introduce you to their newest relationship partner? Great! Makes you one of the last of your group to the single for the holidays.
Did someone in your family use the holidays to announce a new baby on the way? Great! Makes you doubt if the same thing will eventually happen to you before you feel like quitting after trying for 2 years and still not having a kid.
Did a friend of yours just announce that they start a new job after the holiday season? Great! That reminds you that you really should update your resume again because your employment insurance is running out and the pressure is mounting.
Did someone make it out of the hospital, or return from active military duty, to be home for the holidays? Great! You have to be sure to go over and say hello, after a quick trip to the cemetery to pay your respects to the person you lost this year.
The holidays are not always fun for everyone.
For some, it is a time when a person finally gets a massive break in life and a chance to find real joy.
For others, the only massive break they are pre-occupied with is nursing a massively broken heart.
If you are fortunate enough to have something wonderful to celebrate this year, please do.
Enjoy your moments and share them accordingly.
Just don’t throw them in the faces of people that you know are struggling right now.
Show those people a little compassion when you can. Invite them to join in with you, but fully understand if they are not able too.
If you are unfortunate during this holiday season, remember that someday in the future you very likely will have something amazing to share, and will want to celebrate with the people you most care about.
When the people around you are asking you to share in their joy, make the effort to be happy for them, and if you cannot do that, excuse yourself so you do not risk tainting the mood.
In the long term, you will be glad you did.
Happy Holidays. Congratulations on your good fortunes, and hang in there whatever your struggles.
Holidays and Inter-Faith Families
By Frank Kermit
The number of interfaith families is growing. It is likely that you or someone you know has been involved at some point in an inter-faith relationship. Love may be blind, but the challenges some couples face in inter-faith marriages can be very real.
According to Dr Sheila Gordon, president of Interfaith Community, religions aren’t really set up to accommodate people creating households where there are two different faiths. She suggests that parents should discuss with each other, their goals of the religion as it regards their children and what aspects of the religion they want to practice, and what they want to get out of practicing their faiths before bringing their children into it.
Some couples face what has been called the December Dilemma, where multiple faiths have days of celebration around the same time.
Some families try to celebrate each holiday separately on their respective days, but allow for decorations of both holidays to be present the entire holiday season (this avoids the December Dilemma of deciding, for example, if they should put up a Christmas tree or a Menorah).
One inter-faith couple told me that they celebrate both sets of holidays and will let their children decide what faith to follow in the future.
Some families just celebrate all the holidays at once in their own interpretation of mixing traditions together.
Finally, other families make a firm decision that the children will be brought up with one faith and one set of traditions, and the parent from the other faith either gives up a faith, or celebrates the holidays more privately, or with less emphasis even if the children are involved.
Basically, it is important for the couple to decide ahead of time, as much as they can, what they believe would be best, not only for them, but for their kids as well. It is important to keep in mind that managing different holiday celebrations and how to incorporate them into your family’s life is a yearlong process.
One thing that many inter-faith relationships face is a lack of acceptance from family and friends.
An old colleague of mine used to be very out spoken about his stance against inter-faith marriage to the point where he would refuse to attend the weddings of his friends and families if they married outside his religion. This eventually led to a lot of abandonment.
Everyone has an opinion about inter-faith relations, and it may not always be in favor of the loving couple.
If you are entering into an inter-faith relationship, and believe it is heading in the direction of an inter-faith family, be sure you are ready to face opposition that you may not have known you had.
Personally, I find it sad when family and friends are accepting of inter-faith friendships, but not accepting of inter-faith romances.
In fact, in my own practice, the biggest challenge to inter-faith couples is not the couple’s inability to work out the role of religion in their lives and the lives of their children; their biggest challenge is getting close family members on board to support them as they would any same faith relationships.
If there could be just one message I could relate to those parents and other family who abandon a loving inter-faith couple it is this:
The taint of your abandonment will never be removed even if you reconcile later.
More often than not, abandoning family re-enter that couple’s life again in the future, and it usually is because you want to see the children of the new inter-faith family.
Think long and hard before you do something that will never be forgotten. I have yet to meet any abandoner that later claimed it was the right thing to do.
Happy Holidays whatever you celebrate!
When Love Ends At The Best of Times
Heartbreak for the Holidays
By Frank Kermit
As the holiday season approaches there are a number of things most people can count on. Time off, shopping, spending time with family and friends (including the ones you may not be particularly fond of), bad weather, exams if you are a student, end of the year projects at work that need to get done, the pressures of holiday get-togethers, worse weather, bad drivers, holiday parties, trips to the clinic, feeling overwhelmed, traveling, even worse weather, travel delays, resolutions, less day light, longer commutes…did I mention the weather? But if you are lucky enough, you might just have that kind of holiday season where you get a glimpse, a tiny reminder of what makes it all worth it. The holiday season brings about a sense of reflection for many people. It is a time, when we look back on all the things we have done or accomplished in the past year (or didn’t). And that is why holidays bring about the end of many relationships.
The holiday times can be super challenging if you have a lot going on. It is easy to feel pressure and exhaustion, as if you are being pulled in too many different directions. When this pressure hits, and you start questioning if the relationship you are in is worth it…that means only one thing: you-are-normal.
Holidays have a reputation of bringing out the best in humanity…it can also bring out the worst too. Not everyone can handle the holiday times, and if you are having any issues with the person you are dating, the holidays are ripe to exploit even your most minuscule doubts and have them cause cracks in the foundation of your relationship future.
It may not be until the holiday’s approach that some people take the time to ask if this is the relationship they really want to be in. It may not be until the holiday’s approach that some people must now decide if they are going to introduce the new partner to their family. Holidays can force issues like commitment-talk, future-talk, family-planning-talk, and even the dreaded, so-what-are-we-exactly-and-where-is-this-going-?-talk. (Yeesh! And you thought that people just drank too much over the holidays to make merry…)
And those are only the challenges if you are monogamous. When dating multiple people during the holidays, it can be a bit tricky because there are only a couple of nights that you have to spend with your someone special that have important meanings to it, and if you have more than one someone special in your life, choosing only one person to spend that special night with, usually means that the others will dump you. If you can’t bring all of your partners together to celebrate with you (and hey, that could happen), you might not get to spend it with anyone.
The reverse can happen as well if your preferred partner is seeing more than one person, and happens to choose someone else to share that midnight New Years kiss with, instead of choosing you. It can be easier than you think to end up alone on a major holiday. Being polyamorous doesn’t protect you from the same risks as being monogamous.
Think of the holiday season as a test. Can your relationship survive the holiday hazards? Is the person you are dating understanding about the time you need to prepare for your exams (exams that can change the course of your life)? Is the person you are with just adding to your holiday aches? Are you the one that is making things worse for your partner because the holidays are fueling the fires of your own unresolved issues? It is a pretty safe bet that if your love life cannot withstand the handful of weeks leading up to, and including the holidays, it is likely that the person you were dating would not have been a reliable life partner for you anyways. So the good news about a holiday break up is that you found out before you got more committed or attached.
That still does not change the fact that the end of a relationship heading into, or during the holidays, just royally sucks. It is going to hurt. There is never a “good time” for a relationship to break up. There will always be reasons to stay, even when the most important reason (the fact that you do not want to be in a relationship with that person) says that you need to go. Holidays notwithstanding, if the relationship ended, you are still going to have to deal with the heartache.
If you do end up in heartbreak for the holidays, take every opportunity to make merry and spread cheer with the people you care about (except the one that dumped you), and enjoy the company of people that care about you. Take the time you need to mourn the end of your relationship, but not at the expense of the focus you need for those things (like study time to pass your exams) that WILL stay with you for the rest of your life. The pain is temporary.
There will be plenty of time to focus on the things you want, after you focus on the things you need to do first. And when you do mourn, remember what you LEARNED from your last relationship. If you can find the correct lesson to learn, so that you do not end up in exactly the same situation again, that is the path of finding your relationship redemption.
That is the way to forgiving the most important person you need to forgive in a break up…yourself. Have a safe holiday season everyone.
This is a contributed post.
Like pretty much everyone these days, the first thing you do after waking up is probably to reach for your phone, and immediately start replying to texts and checking social media updates. From then until you go back to sleep again, you’re probably using computers, tablets, and other digital devices, whether for personal or professional use. While the modern tech we have access to has done some amazing things, it’s also totally warped the way we think about human relationships. Here’s how…
Dialogue Lacks Context
This is an issue that we’ve all felt the effects of at one time or another. Often, communicating with someone via a digital medium makes it difficult or totally impossible to detect tone. It can often be very hard to tell when someone’s being sarcastic, sincere or funny, unless you’ve known them for most of your life. This becomes even more of a problem when you’re using online dating apps like Ok Cupid or Tinder to talk to someone completely through text, which may have something to do why more and more people are turning to free chat lines instead. Without the intonation of a voice, and facial expressions to some extent, it can be extremely hard to distinguish what a person says and what they mean.
Too Much Tech Can Lead to Isolation
While tech is just another tool for a lot of us, it’s become a full-blown addiction for some, particularly those in younger age groups. A frankly disturbing amount of kids these days are becoming inexorably attached to the various features and entertainment resources that modern tech offers, and gradually becoming more and more withdrawn from the real world. Instantaneous chats through social media, email and text are taking the place of physical, in-person interactions and discussions. In a world where it’s not necessary to leave the house in order to talk to people, a lot of people won’t! While this kind of isolation only gets truly severe in a handful of cases, it’s still a very real phenomenon, and one which can cripple some people’s social skills.
Tech Has Accelerated the Development of Relationships
I thought I’d round this post off with a more positive note. Over a third of marriages in the US now start online, and this figure isn’t expected to go down in the near future. While I couldn’t find anything on how fast these relationships went from introduction to mushy love messages, I’m willing to bet that technology speeds the development up significantly! With all the tech we have these days, we can wake up to texts from our partner, meet them at some point in the day, and then carry on our conversation with ease no matter where we are. While some would argue that this takes some of the excitement and magic out of a new relationship, I say that it’s brought people closer together. It’s now easier than ever to get to know someone over a much shorter period of time, and establish whether or not you’re right for each other.
The Holiday Mistake Singles Make
By Frank Kermit
There are many mistakes singles make, that keep them single. The holiday time is no exception.
At a time when the motivation to meet someone new to date may be at an all time high, some single people make the mistake of shelving their hearts, and put off dating new people, until after the holidays are over.
On the surface, it seems like a good idea. Going into the holidays, is a busy time.
Planning for holiday parties and gift buying, trying to finish work related projects before taking time off, and studying for final exams makes the time leading up to the holidays a period of high stress.
Who has the time or energy to even think about starting to date, or pursue meeting someone new?
So really, what is the problem with holding off dating until after the holiday season is over?
Well, there isn’t really anything wrong with it per se. If you do not want to date, then do not date.
However, giving into this mindset is habit forming.
After the holidays, comes the period after New Years and it is too cold to go out to be social and date. Then comes Valentine’s Day and there is way too much pressure to face dating someone new. Springtime is too wet outside and no one likes how there bodies look coming out of the winter blues and final exams again. So let’s wait until summer rolls around. Then in summer, there are so many places to visit, vacations to plan, work projects to finish before heading out on vacation. Did we mention the humidity? Ok, and the kids are out of school, so no time for social dating then. We will get back to dating in the fall. Back to school, need a vacation from your vacation, and mending the broken heart from the loss of your summer fling, it is no time to date serious. Halloween already? I don’t want to date in costume, what am I? A clown? Next month when all the creepy decorations come down, I will make the effort for sure. Golly, weather changes are making me sleepy. Oh gee, so much to do because the holidays are coming up!
Does any of this sound familiar?
If you are perpetually single, it should.
Using the holidays as a way to avoid dating is just another excuse in a long line of excuses.
There is no perfect time to start dating.
The best time to start is right now.
Sure the holidays are hectic. So what?
There will always be lots of reasons to avoid dating.
You only need one to start, and that is because you want to.
No one wants to be alone over the holidays.
That is what makes it one of the best times to get out there and be social and meet new people.
It is OK to want to meet someone new to date, and it is OK to want to do that over the holidays.
So if you have the chance to shake off the holiday rush, and the opportunity to get out there, meet new people and a date comes your way, go for it.
Always go for it.
You likely spend a lot of time getting gifts for other people, so why not give yourself the gift of dating during the holidays.
You deserve to be loved as much as anybody.
Single Going Into The Holiday Season
By Frank Kermit
The holidays can be a time of reflection for some to evaluate if they are where they would want to be with their love lives.
Many people who are struggling can end up asking themselves questions such as:
Why are all my friends in relationships, and I am still single?
Why does she just want to be friends with me?
Why won't he commitment to me?
While the holidays are usually associated with great images of joyous celebration, and scenes of happiness surrounded by family and loved ones, not everyone feels festive, especially if they are still trying to find a soul mate to share the holidays with.
The good news is that this is actually one of the BEST times of the year to go out to meet someone new to date. This is the time of year when people are usually the most open minded when it comes to trying to date different types of people than they previously dated beforehand for one simple reason:
No one wants to be alone for the holidays.
The pain of being alone as the holidays approach can be so fearfully devastating that some people may end up settling for less than what they want just so that they are not by themselves.
In other cases some people even go back to an ex and an emotionally unhealthy relationship because of the convenience, than to face the holiday season without a partner.
In fact, some people actually find dating an ex, even if the relationship was toxic and ended badly, more preferable than dealing with the awkwardness of starting to date someone new.
Fear based decision making can lead to more mistakes so much easier than most people think.
Here is a little exercise that you can do right now to avoid the pitfalls and mistakes singles tend to make going into the holiday season.
I want you to imagine your IDEAL holiday celebration.
For example, if you are afraid to be alone on New Year’s Eve without anyone to kiss at that first stroke of midnight, then sit down and visualize exactly what your IDEAL New Years Eve celebration would consist of.
Do not focus on specific people.
I want you to focus on YOU during those future projections. What are you wearing? What are you doing? How are you feeling? How do you look? What are you talking about?
Are you putting your newly learned dance steps into practice trying to seduce the new love of your life on the dance floor that will lead to your first magical midnight New Years Eve kiss? Are you charismatically enticing someone using your new charming communication and graceful storytelling skills?
Once you have that ideal in mind, work your way back to this moment in time to where you are right now, and ask yourself what you would have to do between now and that event to make your dream vision come true.
Sign up for dance lessons? Learn the art of small talk? Pick out a venue and new outfit for that night?
When you have an idea of where you want to end up, then you will better know what you need to do right now in order to get there.
If you are alone as the holidays approach, EMBRACE it. You have a choice. You can either feel sorry for yourself, or you can start to take action today and focus on what you can do right now, to be able to attract someone new into your love life.
Mourning for the Holidays
By Frank Kermit
Doesn't it seem like so many people die around the holiday season?
I wrote this article after I attended the funeral of an old colleague of mine.
I made every effort to attend the wake and the funeral. Meeting his family for the first time and feeling their grief reminded me that the holidays are not always a time a joyous celebration.
For many people it is a time of mourning and bereavement remembering lost loved ones. There is never a good time to deal with the death of someone you love, and for it to happen so close to the holidays is no exception. What it does mean is that the holidays will be more challenging as people still come together, and the need for compassion and understanding is at an all time high. It is not just because grief will cause people to be sad when most people are expected to be enthralled with making merry. It has to do with the different ways that people grieve.
One person's method of grieving may be completely out of line with how another person expresses sorrow. If you remember one lesson from this article, it is this: Show compassion and acceptance for the way someone needs to grieve, even if it is the exact opposite of what you would prefer that person utilizes to manage mourning. Since the funeral, I have been swarmed with memories of Christmas pasts. I wanted to share some with you and also share some ideas about mourning the holidays.
When my grandfather died in the 1980s, I was still in elementary school, and too young to really understand the effects of grieving for death. What I remember was being taken out of school for a few days while the family came together around my widowed grandmother, and having to attend a funeral home wake and a funeral service. I do not remember understanding everything that was going on around me at the time. What I do distinctly remember is that every time I was reminded of something that I wanted to tell my grandfather, I had to come to acknowledge again and again that he was gone.
Other than the death of pets, it was the first time a human family member died. Although my grandfather died earlier in the year, I do have a distinct memory of how my immediate family and our extended family had to balance celebrating the holidays and honoring his memory.
That Christmas was a somber one. We did not have the loud massive family get together that I had become accustom too. I have a hazy memory of my grandmother breaking out in tears missing her husband at one point while being the center of attention, probably opening a gift of some kind at the table.
When I later returned to school in January, I was faced with that obligatory writing assignment of the (what you did over the holidays) composition. Not sure what to write given the loss my family was suffering, I asked a family member for guidance and was told to basically "make up something acceptable".
In short, I was told to describe a wonderful scene complete with laughter, singing Christmas songs and even threw in some street caroling on the way to a midnight mass...truly a far cry from the quiet, almost depressed real life version of a mournful holiday eve.
Heck, it is not like my family ever did street caroling or singing songs when they were not managing mourning the holidays anyways. Too busy talking loudly, preparing food, eating food, and then recovering from the meal.
What I wanted to write is exactly what happened, but for some reason it was important to that family member to keep our grief private regardless of the fact that everyone that knew me, also knew that my grandfather died (being pulled out of school for a week might have been a good hint).
The key word in the directive I received was the word: ACCEPTABLE. As in, it would not be acceptable for our family to experience grief at that time of year. I found it odd, but I chose to obey like a good kid. Yet, I always believed it would have been a much more interesting story if I had told the truth about what really happened that holiday.
The struggle was managing what -I- would have wanted to help me express -my- grief (writing about missing my grandfather and how Christmas was different this year) and what a family member wanted to help them manage their grief (keeping our pain private).
As the years went on, how we celebrated the holidays changed with each year. Some were marked with great celebration for the weddings that took place that year, while others reflected the emptiness left when other family members had died that year. The holidays, it seemed to me, was a time of reflecting on the changing nature of the relationships of the previous year, the loss of some of the people we loved, a reminder of the break ups and divorces happening, and a call to also remember to cherish the good news of new relationships forming and the births, adoptions, and additions of new members into the family.
When my father died after a very long battle with his health challenges, it marked a significant change in our identity as an immediate family. My mother was now a widow, and I was reminded of all our mortality.
There were a few things I left out of his eulogy that I never told anyone. One of those things is that one of his unfulfilled wishes was for him to see me get married and start a family of my own before he died.
A month after he died I celebrated my birthday, my first without him. With each important date that came along (his birthday, his wedding anniversary, father's day, and the holidays) it was an adjustment to the new normal.
With each one I tried different ways to celebrate. Some of them I spent with friends, some of them with family and some I spent alone. On father's day I made a visit to the cemetery bringing my mother with me.
At Christmas, I spent it with my immediate family, and had to manage my own coping method of withdrawing from the crowd with some of my families coping methods of making mountains out of molehills.
At New Years Eve, I spent it alone at home making only a quick visit to another uncle recovering from heart surgery.
What I learned is that each person copes with grief in his or her own way. Some need to party with others, and some need to spend time alone. Some need to cry out at the casket at the funeral home, and some need to yell at the people crying out at the casket because there are people who are too uncomfortable at the expression of another's grief.
If there could be something I hope will make managing your mourning this holiday season easier, it is this: No matter how uncomfortable you are with the way someone expresses grief, show some compassion and simply learn to accept it.
If you cannot do that, at the very least, please shut the hell up. Just because you cannot handle someone else's grief does not make you -stronger- and it does not make the other person -wrong-.
In our pill-popping society, family members may often push for mourning relatives to be sedated, not in the best interest of the mourning relative, but because the family members feel ill-equipped to manage excessive expressions of grief. Never yell at someone for expressing grief.
Give that the person the space and acceptance needed to process the intense emotions. If drugs suppress those intense emotions, then those unexpressed emotions may and likely will manifest in other ways (like emotional blocks or dysfunctional self sabotaging behaviors).
There is no -better- way to grieve. There is only the way that works for you as long as you remember even though mourning is a personal experience, that does not mean you can not get help with managing your grief. It is OK to seek out the aid of a professional, or even a companion willing to listen and who is OK with you being vulnerable and your truest self at your lowest moment.
They say that we each need to live each day as if it were our last. I am not a believer of that personally for reasons too numerous to mention in this article.
However, I do encourage people to live each day as if it were the last day that someone you love will live. If there is someone you want to reach out too, that you need to forgive or remind that you love, or want to apologize too then do it; not because you might die tomorrow, but because that person may die tomorrow. Get the difference?
Once in a while, I remember someone that did something nice for me, and I will contact that person and thank him or her, not because I might not be around, but because I wonder how I will feel if I miss the chance to tell them before that person is no longer around.
Three weeks ago, I attended the funeral of an old colleague of mine. I made every effort to attend the wake and the funeral but I never got to tell him how much I appreciated him, his works and his talents while he was alive. Now, I never will.
Understanding relationships goes hand in hand with understanding the principle that every relationship you have on earth is temporary and that unions between people end either by choice (break up, separation or divorce) or in the best of cases, will end by the death of one of the people in the relationship.
Be mindful of this fact when you take the time we all have (or lack thereof) for granted. Happy Holidays whatever you celebrate and whomever you happen to love.
Dr. Laurie Betito Quotes