Since its January, we can't get the word resolution out of our mind. We hear it every year at this time and in fact, usually about this time of month we find out just how many of those resolutions we can't keep. Maybe one of the reasons is that January 1st brings around a long to-do list of things we find really hard or just plain don't want to do. Goals and resolutions may be good for us, but they aren't always easy. That's a lot of pressure. In our last blog, we mentioned some resolutions that that may help if you are grieving the loss of a loved one, we hope these may give you comfort. But as we were contemplating resolutions, we looked up the definition - the firm decision to do or NOT DO something. That second part is often left out. Curious. Can you think of things that you do that if you stopped doing them, you would feel a bit better? Maybe a family tradition that only makes you sad, or a friend that really isn't a friend or a task that doesn't need to be done, but you've just always done it. Take some time and think about it. What can you resolve NOT to do that will change your life for the better? We don't mean just NOT eating sweets, but something that speaks to your soul that lets you release a burden that will make life in 2019 just that much better.
If you have lost a loved one this year, especially in the recent past, the start of the New Year may be the perfect beginning to make some changes that will help you manage your grief as the months progress. Here are a dozen suggestions for New Year's Resolutions that may bring you comfort as you move forward with your life and your memories.
1. Be honest with how you feel, not only with others, but with yourself.
2. Speak freely, your loved one's name.
3. Live in a way that your loved one would have wanted you to.
4. Support someone else.
5. Seek professional help and learn about the process of grief.
6. Be open to happiness and let go of guilt when you feel joyful or are enjoying life (this one is hard).
7. Give away belongings that only increase your grief.
8. Journal on a regular basis or blog if you feel like sharing your thoughts with others.
9. Donate your time or financial support to a cause that was important to your loved one.
10. Read more, find a hobby, walk more, learn something new.
11. Get more sleep
12. Speak your mind and don't feel like you have to be strong. Don't be afraid to reach out to someone else.
It's a New Year, a new beginning, resolve to make it the best it can be.
The holidays and grief are an unwelcome pairing. There is no time that is easy to grieve, but for a season filled with reunions of family and friends, songs of joy and celebration, remembering our loved ones and the fact that they are not here to share these times with us, can be unbearable. There are plenty of good resources to help you through these weeks, however, one suggestion in all we've read stands out as a very good idea that has the potential of healing for more than just the season. The idea is to start a new tradition in honor of those we have lost. Traditions are about family, and friends. They are reoccurring events or deeds that bind us together with purpose and memories. By changing the focus of the way you celebrate the season, you can move in a new direction based on what may have been important to your loved one. You can still enjoy the meaning of the season and join it with the loving memories you have of those who have passed. So think hard about what they might want as a new tradition for celebration. Will it be something to make you laugh, a generous gift to a favorite charity, time spent on a cause that was important to them? Consider something that will allow you to spend time with the people you love, something that will make you feel connected. Sharing your talents and time can lift your spirit and bring your family together. The options are endless and can be inspiring and will give your tradition a new sense of meaning. The focus placed on something new that blends memories of the past can be healing in itself. This season, try not to hold in your grief, but shout out the love and joy you had with the loved one you lost - for all to remember and treasure this holiday season and for many to come.
When you are feeling blue or mourning the loss of someone dear in your life, happiness can be hard to come by during a season that focuses on being merry. Turning to your family as a support system to get you through the upcoming weeks can be the best answer. Consider reaching out to your family to assist you in making decisions regarding the traditions and tasks that you usually take on during the holidays. Make a list of all the things that you traditionally do such as buying gifts, decorating your tree and/or house, sending Christmas Cards, reaching out to old friends, volunteering your time at church or a local organization, going to parties. Have a good look at the list and see what is still important to you or what you might be able to forego this year. Then have an honest and upfront conversation with your family seeking their assistance with these tasks before the stresses of the holiday season get everyone out of balance. Taking these steps early on will bring back some of the joy that has gone missing while the memories of a loved one lost weighs heavy on your mind.
A few Thanksgiving holidays ago, I received a small card in the mail from a friend. The message was short and quite simple. It read "Thank you for being in my life. I am grateful for you everyday." Wow! That made an impact on me. During this season everywhere we look we see messages wishing us "Happy Thanksgiving"; from advertisers hoping for huge Black Friday sales, on social media with cute dancing turkey GIFs and with decorations in stores, businesses and homes. There is so much focus on the day, the dinner, the pies, the relatives flying in from out of town, so much to take our minds off what is the very simple message of this wonderful holiday....to give thanks. Maybe this year, if you have time before the day when loved ones gather, think about a few special people, maybe those who may be alone on Thanksgiving. Is there a way you can say thank you to them, for being a special part of your life?
You may have heard of the Mexican holiday, Diá de los Muertos (Day of the Dead) and thought that it was simply a Mexican version of Halloween. The holiday is actually a multi-day celebration, coinciding with Halloween, the American holiday on October 31, All Saints' Day on November 1 and All Souls Day on November 2. Diá de los Muertos is rich in Mexican culture and is an important holiday to honor and remember those who have passed away. Up until recently, many people were not aware of the true meaning of Diá de los Muertos, which includes celebrations filled with colorful painted skeletons known as Calavera Catrinas. But recently, the Disney animated movie "Coco" gave a glimpse into the rich traditions of this holiday. If you have not seen the movie, it is a wonderful, colorful, loving look at the way families and friends gather together to remember those who have died and help them through their spiritual journey. The holiday includes celebrating by setting up altars, visiting and tending grave sites, writing poetry and decorating with calaveras. Traces of this celebration can be found back as far as the Aztec culture. How can you join in Diá de los Muertos? Find a community near you that is celebrating or simply take time to reflect on loved ones lost to you and wish them well on their journey home.
Could this be the right thing for your family?
We are so very proud to be associated with the Margie Hilgenfeld Tree Memorial Program offered through the nonprofit organization Anaheim Beautiful. The program was named after my mother Margie, shortly after her passing in 2015. A former president of Anaheim Beautiful, my mother founded this program which has brought so much comfort to so many.
This program is made possible through a partnership with the City of Anaheim Community Services Department and Anaheim Beautiful offering the opportunity to plant a tree in a City of Anaheim park on behalf of a friend or family member. The cost is $300 and provides a 24-inch box tree, a certificate and the ability to attend the tree planting with a brief ceremony. Additional funds collected through the tree memorial cost go to support the Anaheim Beautiful Thelma Jordan Scholarship, awarded annually to provide financial support for a young Anaheim resident pursuing a career in Urban Environmental Studies. A nice way to pay it forward.
Additional information on the Margie Hilgenfeld Tree Memorial Program can be found on the Anaheim Beautiful website: www.anaheimbeautiful.org.
Is There a Right or Wrong Way to Grieve?
With today's influx of information from so many avenues, there is no shortage of advice when it comes to the grieving process. Reading about grief and listening to experts or even family and friends won't necessarily guide you to the best way to get through a devastating loss. Every person is unique, with different personalities and ways of coping with stress or sadness; even culture can play a role. The important thing is to be respectful of the way someone chooses to grieve and, if it is you, be gentle with your own needs. Allowing others to provide support is generally known to have a positive impact on the grieving process. How much and how soon support should be provided will be something that is tailored by the person experiencing the loss. Give them space and time and keep a careful eye. - Excepts from MyCareletter and a reprinted article from The Centre for Grief Education, McCulloch House, Monash Medical Centre.
What is the History of Cremation?
The final disposition of the deceased depends on personal preferences as well as cultural and religious beliefs. Cremations as a method of the disposal of a body dates back to 42,000 years ago according to archaeological studies. However, in many parts of Europe the process was forbidden by law, punishable by death or even used by some religious authorities as a punishment for heretics. Advocating for cremation began in the Europe in the mid 1600's and the first official recorded European to be cremated was not until 1769, although it was an illegal cremation. In 1874, the Cremation Society of Great Britain was founded for the purpose of disseminating information on the process and adopting the best methods to perform cremations. As a result of a legal case in 1884, which stated that although the law did not state that cremation was legal, it also did not state that it was illegal, the first official cremation in Great Britain was performed in 1885. This preceded the Cremation Act of 1902 which allowed cremation in Great Britain in authorized places only. The process was infrequently used in the United States as well until the early 1900s. Today, the cremation rate is nearly 40 percent in the United States and more and more people are opting for cremation as part of their funeral services. We will address some of the reasons people choose cremation over traditional burial in future blogs.
Parable on Immortality
I am standing upon the seashore. A ship at my side spreads her white sails to the morning breeze and starts for the blue ocean. She is an object of beauty and strength. I stand and watch until at last she hangs like a speck of white cloud just where the sea and the sky come down to mingle with each other. Then someone at my side says, "There she goes."
Gone where? Gone from my sight...that is all. She is just as large in mast and hull and spar as she was when she left my side and just as able to bear her load of living freight to the place of destination. Her diminished size is in me, not in her. And just at the moment when someone at my side says "There she goes," there are other eyes watching her coming and other voices ready to take up the glad shout, "Here she comes."
Henry Van Dyke.