Finding Holiday Joy Amid the Grief

Coping with grief during the holidays

group of lanterns

Although this season brings  fun and festivities, many of our friends

find it hard to feel joyful when their hearts are heavy with grief.

Whether from a  recent loss, or  one many years ago, grieving for the loved ones who won’t be here to celebrate with us can dampen our holiday spirit and  lead to depression. 

  • I think of my friend  who has lost both a sister and a son this year.
  • I remember my friends who tragically lost their teen aged daughter in a car wreck just a few days before Christmas many years ago.
  • I consider my medical colleague who is battling cancer.
  • My heart aches for my friends who lost a young aunt to an undiagnosed medical condition which suddenly proved fatal .
  • I’m sad for my friends and their children who will spend their first Christmas after a divorce.
  • And my husband and I  still grieve the loss of our parents and siblings at Christmas even after many years.

As one friend wrote-

“This is my second Christmas without my husband.  It has been tough, but also a reminder that God is the god of all comfort. That works for me. And… it is a reminder to pray comfort to anyone who has faced a loss of a loved one including precious pets. Loss from any source needs a comforting friend.”

If you know someone who needs a “comforting friend”,  please take the time to reach out to them so they know someone cares and they are not alone.

 

Here is advice from Nancy Guthrie on

What to say to grieving people. 

“Honestly, the most painful thing is when you’ve had a loss and someone around you—because of the awkwardness — never acknowledges it. That’s what hurts the most.”

 

xmas house

 

 

On the Harvard Health Blog, Dr. Anthony Komaroff  advises on 

Coping with grief and loss during the holidays

 “Grief is not a tidy, orderly process, and there is no right way to grieve. Every person—and every family—does it differently. This can cause emotions to collide and overlap, especially during the holiday season when the emphasis is on rebirth and renewal.”

 

 

My family and I wish all of you health and wholeness in body, mind, and spirit.

                              Dr. Aletha 

man and woman in front of the Alamo at Christmas
My husband and I at the Alamo in San Antonio Texas at Christmas

More holiday tips from Watercress Words at these links-

How to anticipate and relieve holiday stress

Healthy holiday eating made easy

And please consider my affiliates and advertisers for your holiday gifts, your support helps  fund this blog and increase its value to you. Thank you!

A Natural Woman- Carole King shares a lifetime of music, a season of pain

Her life reminds us that people who appear successful and accomplished in some areas of life, may be unhappy and hurting in others. We may never know the pain that some have walked through to get where they are.

A Natural Woman: A Memoir

Although Carole King did not write “A Natural Woman” for herself (she and her first husband were asked to write it for Aretha Franklin), the song aptly fits her life also.

She grew up in a close Jewish family, attended school where she excelled in performing arts and graduated early. She married young and  loved her husbands (four of them) passionately. She doted on her four children and did all the typical mom things- driving them to activities, homeschooling, sewing their clothes. She cooked food that she grew herself and even milked a goat she owned. She welcomed grandchildren and cared for aging parents.

She could almost be any 70 year old woman- except she is a Grammy award winning singer/songwriter who has written over 100 songs, including many of the greatest hits from the 1970s. In 2013 she became the first woman to be awarded the Library of Congress Gershwin Prize for Popular Song.

inserts from our Carole King music CD collection
inserts from our Carole King music CD collection

Ms. King was at the height of her career in 1972 when my husband and I met, and found we had a mutual appreciation for her music, and still do. So, even though I don’t read memoirs of celebrities, I made an exception this time. I wanted to know more about this talented woman, and I was not disappointed.

As  I listened to the book’s audio version, read by the author,  I marvelled at  how she managed to live such a normal and successful life while experiencing a series of traumatic experiences starting in childhood. These included

  • a sibling with physical and developmental disabilities
  • the dissolution of her parents’ marriage
  • financial instability in her early career
  • the breakdown of her four marriages
  • an extended civil lawsuit
  • accidents resulting in serious physical injury
  • exposure to mental illness and substance abuse

The last issue is noteworthy in that it led to two of her divorces. It also led to several years in which she suffered verbal and physical abuse from one of her husbands, who was mentally ill and addicted to drugs. She candidly admits that she submitted to it,  thinking that  she deserved it, he didn’t mean to hurt her, and that he would change. Fortunately, one night she literally woke up with the conviction that she needed help. Counselling helped her develop personal resources to resist and stop the abuse. She urges women in similar circumstances to seek help and recommends

 The National Domestic Violence Hotline | 24/7 Confidential Support.

I am sad that she  experienced such pain in her life, all the while brightening other lives with her music. She said that music helped her cope with the challenges in her life.

Her life reminds us that people who appear successful and accomplished in some areas of life, may be unhappy and hurting in others. We may never know the pain that some have walked through to get where they are.

Carole King insists that she never wanted to be a star or diva, and she zealously guarded her privacy. According to this book, she valued most her family, relationships, writing songs and sharing her music. I am glad she also decided to share this side of her life and the lessons it teaches .  Thank you Carole King.

a selection of Carole King’s music (these are affiliate links)

Tapestry  Carole King’s first and most successful album

Beautiful: The Carole King Musical  the story of Carole’s life and career

Live at the Troubadour Carole King singing with her friend James Taylor

exploring the HEART of health

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                              Dr. Aletha 

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