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When Christmas Isn't Merry

Excerpt from Daily Cures, Wisdom for Healthy Aging by Connie Mason Michaelis

This holiday season, which includes multiple celebrations, is full of elevated emotions. We often overlook the possibility that those feelings might be negative for some people. In contrast to the excitement of family gatherings and children playing with new toys, these are the painful memories of those who are not here this year. The longer we are privileged to grow old, the fewer family and friends are still with us. How many elders tell us that they’re the only one of their siblings left? The loss of family and friends is a common grievance of aging Seniors. On the one hand, they are blessed to grow old, but it clearly leaves them with a smaller circle of peers and family members of origin. It is especially poignant when those deaths happen during the holiday season. As you read obituaries this time of year, do you think how difficult the following holiday season will be?

We need to be sensitive to this conundrum. Perhaps our Merry Christmas greetings could be more thoughtful. The most important message of the season is the communication of love and hope. Being a good listener and conscious of the fact that there can be painful memories that are surfacing, would make us more sensitive and compassionate. Especially with our Elders, the effort to consider not only their long life but acknowledge the losses along the way. Sharing those memories as well is often the kindest way to celebrate the true meaning of this season. Christmas is also a time to slow down, listen, and share all the sacred memories of the past. As we approach Christmas, Hanukah, and a beautiful New Year, let’s be more sensitive to those that are struggling with loss.

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