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Grieving and the Holidays: Canadian Thanksgiving

October 8, 2017 4 comments

 

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There are certain days for those who grieve that act like emotional land mines.

Thanksgiving is one such time for me. During this holiday, my emotions feel more intense than, on what I might call, normal days on the grief journey.

Thanksgiving was always a big family time growing up, and in our marriage. I have lovely memories of the joy Brenda had decorating the house for the season, and preparing for “her babies” to arrive for the big family dinner. This year, Thanksgiving converges with our wedding anniversary. This amplifies my emotions evoking moments of loneliness, sadness, despair and even anger.

The grief group I attended after Brenda’s death helped reiterate that all of these feelings are normal, though I would add, not pleasant. They taught that feelings are part of the process of grief and that we are to accept our feelings, whatever they may be, and not deny them or push them away. They also shared the importance of preparing before special days like holidays, anniversaries and birthdays. It is because we are used to associating the holidays with good times and our loved ones, so we will miss them all the more at these moments of the year.
Those of us on the grief journey must contemplate in advance what we are going to do, and who we are going to be with on these special days.

Brenda's MarkerSo, I have done some preparing. I have planned to spend quiet time at the cemetery giving thanks for our marriage and the incredible seasons of life that we lived together. I truly do thank God for those years and the memories. Brenda used to teach leaders “memories never depreciate and are worth investing in.” So true in my life right now.

There are other things such as having time to read my Bible, seeking both strength and comfort from the words found there. I attended a hockey game early in the morning to watch my eldest grandson play and receive the MVP trophy. Any time with my grandchildren always helps. Today, I went to church with Jeremy and Shari and Mac, Ellie and Georgia. In the afternoon I have arranged for gardening and supper with life friends who will surround me with love.

Then, on the holiday Monday, my family, all thirteen of us, will gather around the dining room as my “daughters” Kristin, Shari and Kirstie excitedly prepare and serve our traditional turkey feast. This gathering will provide time to identify where we are on our grief journey and express thanks for “Mom” and other things in our lives. As I mentioned, this would have been our 41st wedding anniversary. So, I am thankful that I will not be alone, but surrounded by those closest to me.

If you are grieving a loss, it is easy for these “special days” to sneak up on you, so be careful. You cannot eliminate the feelings, but you can prepare for them. I’ve been told that no matter how long it has been, you still carry a portion of your grief with you. That portion will be with you for the rest of your life. Emotions, you thought you had already dealt with, will come flooding back at unexpected times, but on these special days, you can anticipate. I’ve already begun to think and plan for Christmas.

When I am discouraged, or at a low point relating to my loss, the only real remedy is to look to the Father. God truly is the source of all healing and I am making the decision to remain close to Him despite my emotions. This morning the words written by the psalmist in Psalm 42:6 reminded me of this, “My soul is downcast within me; therefore, I will remember you.” So, even though I feel struck by grief once again, I am choosing to depend on God and I will praise Him and give thanks. For “though I am struck down, I am not destroyed.”

In Brenda’s journal entries, she often wrote what she was thankful for even as she faced death. I read this today and her list made me smile:

• God’s heartbeat in my life.
• The gifts of prayer and scripture.
• My loving family.
• Encouraging friends.
• A roaring appetite.
• Pretty good energy.
• The hope of Christmas, now just weeks away.
• So much love and goodwill at every turn.
• Hope.
• Laughter.

What are you thankful for today?

TRANSITIONS: Exploring life changes as maturing adults

March 19, 2016 5 comments

I am pleased to announce I will be speaking with my good friend Dr. Paul Pearce at a special “Adult Get Away Retreat” at Barnabas on Keats Island April 15-17. The setting is spectacular. A quiet spot on Keats Island overlooking Howe Sound with comfortable and spacious rooms, delicious meals and warm hospitality.

This weekend is open to all adults—married or single. It is a spiritual retreat that includes relaxation, meeting new people and fun.

This faith-focused weekend will give you rest and renew your soul.

Our theme this weekend is  TRANSITIONS: Exploring life changes as maturing adults and it is a particular  Having just gone through, and still going through a huge transition in my life after the death of my wife Brenda the whole topic of transitioning in life is both relevant and meaningful to me.

Canadians approaching retirement are now the fastest growing demographic in the country. The sharp increase can be attributed to the aging “baby boom” generation, who account for almost one-third of the nation’s population.

“Transition is a great deal more than change…It’s a growing and a maturing and wisdom gaining process…It’s an opportunity to renew our dreams and refresh our calling. (Max De Pree).”

Everyone copes with aging differently. For many the so-called “golden years” are “years of adjustments” as we deal with changes such as winding down our careers, moving, becoming a caregiver, adjusting to a fixed income and other such consequences of aging. Some changes are expected and easy to cope with. Others can shock one’s sense of stability such as an unexpected decline in health, finding meaning and purpose after a career, or the loss of a loved one.

This weekend is for those who are approaching or already into the change of a new season in life (55+/-). Together we will explore how to embrace times of change and to better understand biblical teaching as we become, “mature and complete, not lacking anything” (James 1:4). There will be practical helps in learning how to face and deal with life decisions differently as well as learning from one another so we might change and adjust to find new life and growth in our spiritual journey.

I cannot express how meaningful it is to talk about upcoming life transitions in advance of being thrust into the situation. I want to invite friends and friends of friends to come join with us for this relaxing yet meaningful weekend.

Specifically Paul and I will be engaging you on the following topics, all in the beautiful setting of Barnabas, one of my favourite places on the planet.

Areas related to Transitions

  1. Spirituality
  2. Wellness
  3. Personal Equity – what you bring to this time of life.
  4. Social
  5. Vocational – what am I going to do?

Cost:

$215 (per person) shared accommodation
Fees include program costs, six meals, two nights accommodation, transportation and all taxes

Contact Barnabas directly to register or for further information. Need Assistance?
Call Evelyn: 1 (604) 886-2220

Categories: Aging