Sunday, April 20, 2014

Listening to Easter

All about me are signs of renewal.  Easter is here and with it are the always hopeful signs of rebirth: the arrival of a new season of Spring, Christ's Resurrection, plants and flowers bursting forth in bloom and the feeling of being refreshed; of being given the opportunity to start over.
I still make and hide an Easter basket for my young adult son full of chocolates and jelly beans and multi-colored Peeps.  It's a tradition that we both enjoy and these days I laugh as he searches through the house for his hidden basket as I watch and say "hot", "cold" or "warm" depending on where he is in relation to the basket that has sometimes been hidden in places such as the shower, the dryer and the stove.

As my Easter unfolds, the Easter basket search always takes me back to my rambunctious childhood and also to the Easters when my husband was alive.  I know that Easter, and other holidays, are times of great celebration but also are emotionally difficult for those who have just lost loved ones.
I know of a woman who just lost her husband last month to cancer after a long and tough fight.  She has two young sons and my thoughts are with them today.  I know that her family and friends will do their best to make sure she and her boys are included in Easter activities but sadly there is no getting around the pain they all are feeling.
I think people are aware of others who are dealing with feelings of grief during the traditional holiday season of Thanksgiving and Christmas but holidays in general, whether it is Passover, Easter, Memorial Day or the 4th of July, all tend to carry their own little hidden emotional minefields.  Grieving is stressful all by itself and then when you add the pressure and expectations of holidays, it can add up to unexpected meltdowns because it hard to escape the old sights and sounds associated with these special days.
I found these helpful tips from the Hospice Foundation of America and thought they might be good to share:
-- Be aware than an approaching holiday might be a difficult time for you.  The additional stress may affect you emotionally, cognitively and physically; this is a normal reaction.
--Take care not to drink alcohol (a central nervous system depressant) in excess, overeat (which brings fatigue), or overwork.
--Recognize that holidays won't be the same.  If you try to keep everything as it was, you'll be disappointed.  Doing things a bit differently can acknowledge the change while preserving continuity with the past.
--Be careful not to isolate yourself.  It's alright to take time for yourself but don't cut yourself off from the support of family and friends.
--Talk over your plans.  Decide what you want to do and what can be avoided.

Do what is comfortable for you.  May you find what works for you.

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