Friday, December 14, 2018

Insight: When it’s not so jolly

By Lorraine Glowczak

It’s 5:27 a.m. on publication day and this editorial/insight is due in a couple of hours. I’m staring at a blank page and I haven’t a clue where to begin. It’s not because I have writer’s block. I know exactly what wants to come out on the page, but it doesn’t fit my agenda and idealized version of a holly, jolly Christmas. So, please bear with me as the words I’m trying to control take control over me.

Decorations, gifts, lights, holiday cheer, family, friends and Christmas music that begins before Thanksgiving – I bask in the delight of it all. Christmas is my favorite holiday and there is nothing that prevents me from celebrating with full blown exhilaration even when the dark ridges of not so pleasant times knock on the peripheral edges of my merriment.

This time of year also brings with it the memory of my mother and two close friends who all made their escape into the heavens during holiday seasons of the past. So, while I’m bouncing around with Christmas joy like some elf on a shelf, I am very aware that it’s also a season when being jolly is not necessarily a universal American experience -be it poverty, a job lost or death.

I have plans to meet a friend for coffee soon whose adult daughter is preparing to make her own transition – saying her goodbyes to her young children, husband, siblings and parents during a time of supposedly “good cheer.”

“I just need some time away to talk about something different for a change,” my friend confessed, wishing to escape for just a moment, the pain of a child’s impending death.

I’m not quite sure how or if this prayer thing works – but I sure do hope and pray that I don’t say something that may cause further heartache like, “There is a reason for everything” or “God needs another angel in heaven” or perhaps even worse yet, “Have a very, merry Christmas!”

In my effort to prepare for our gathering, I reached out to the google gods for some quick advice from quasi-professionals. If you are also in a similar circumstance, here are two pieces of advice I found to be most real in approach:

1)      Admit it. Tell them you do not know what to say. The author of an article on offers this advice: “It’s okay to tell the truth if you don’t know what to say. Your honesty allows the [individual] to know you are a safe person to talk to because they’ll know you aren’t trying to fix them.”

2)      Admit it, again. Tell them you can’t imagine how they feel. The same author from the website noted above states, “No two relationships are the same because they are comprised of two different people. So even if you’ve [had the same loss] you could never know exactly how another person feels. At best you only know how you felt when your loss occurred.”

‘Tis the season to be jolly. Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukah and holiday greetings in whatever way you choose to celebrate the season. But if it’s not so jolly for you right now - I have no clue what to say and I can’t imagine how you feel. I cover my heart with my hand and bow before you with a very simple prayer, “May peace be with you. If not now, perhaps sooner rather than later.”

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