Yesterday on Twitter, I was invited to participate in a link up. (Thank you Hope N. Griffin!) I was extremely excited and flattered that I received this personal invitation.
The topic everyone was to write on was how you’re finding joy in every day. She posed a few questions, then reminded us that Advent is about peace and resting in the joy of the Lord.
I took some time to ponder on what she wrote in an effort to get my creative juices flowing. I seem to be lacking in that department these days, and it has dawned on me that it is because I am not feeling peaceful in my soul. I’ve lost my joy in the past few days. If I am completely honest, the troubling blue funk was attempting to take me down this past weekend, immediately after Thanksgiving.
We have so much to be thankful for, as I covered in a post just last week. So why the blue funk?
Everyone is busy with their Christmas shopping now that this special holiday is upon us. But, that isn’t what is troubling me.
You see, my sister’s birthday is December 13th. It should be a time of sweet celebration, yet … this time is filled with sadness as she has been gone 14 years now. And what’s more, just when I think I’ve overcome the struggle to get through the holidays without this bothering me … I realize that it has all but consumed me. I’ve been on edge due to this being in the back of my mind. I’ve been short, snapping at my loved ones, or irritable for no reason, or so I thought. Other times, I’m extremely quiet and withdrawn. Then it hit me today as I was thinking of what Hope asked on her blog.
Every year, on the first Saturday in December, we attend The Angel of Hope Ceremony. Here, gathered with others who have lost loved ones, we honor their memory. We have been doing this for several years now, and this year will be no different. My sister’s plaque is on the wall at The Angel of Hope Monument in our town.
It is hard to visit the cemetery at times, so here, we find some comfort standing beneath the large angel statue in the garden. Even if it is just a piece of stone with my sister’s name itched into it, it is there as a reminder that she lived, loved, and touched a part of our hearts. Her memory will live on forever.
So how will I get my joy back at this time?
The same question can be asked for people every where that are struggling at this time, as I know I am not the only one having trouble during the holiday season. There is a young man, close to our family, that is struggling after losing his granddaddy a few short months ago. His pain is still fresh and new, as I believe this is the first holiday season they have had without this very special member of their family. There are others that have lost valued friends, and they are trying to cope as well. I know another gentleman that lost his mother and sister, so I imagine his pain is great during this holiday season, although he won’t mention it. A lot of people internalize their pain, holding it close to them, while others are afraid to acknowledge it for fear of it hurting more if they do. Others will eventually speak about their loss, but the majority of the time, people will suffer in silence and try to deal with their pain alone.
For me, I am choosing to reflect on the good times and the wonderful memories I have of my sister. To take back my joy and push this blue funk cloud right on out of here, I am choosing to reminisce about the time I took my sister to Folly Beach. She wasn’t one to frequent beaches, as her milky white skin reflected. On the off chance that she would, she returned looking like a lobster. Yet, on this particular day, she wanted to go with me to the beach, and so I took her to one of my favorite beaches of all time. There, I watched my sister smile, deep from her soul, as she jumped the waves that were crashing in. I can still see her standing with her back against the waves, feeling self conscious at first, allowing them to move her slightly forward as she resisted against their strength. Finally, she gave in and allowed the child within to play, jumping each wave as they rushed in.
Now, each time that I’m tempted to focus on her absence, I will, instead, try really hard to focus my attention on fond memories I hold close to my heart of her. I encourage anyone else who is struggling to find joy this holiday season to do the same.
Your loved one would not want you sitting around crying over them. Instead, they would want you out and about enjoying the sights and sounds of the holiday season. So, go. Get out of that chair, leave the gloomy room in your house where you sit and overthink things, analyzing it until you feel worse … and focus on having fun in their honor. Talk to them along the way, or even comment in the presence of others what your loved one would have enjoyed about the activity that you’re sharing with them. Or do something to celebrate their life. Don’t focus on how they died (which is really hard in my case, since my sister committed suicide). Instead, focus on how they LIVED!
To those missing loved ones this holiday season, I’m right there with you. But, we have to turn this sad sack train around and jump on the Polar Express to happier times, even if that is by taking a stroll down memory lane each time our thoughts derail.
Thank you, Hope, for inviting me to join in. While I’m almost certain this isn’t what you had in mind when you invited me, thank you for allowing me to write what has been troubling my heart. Now that I have acknowledged it and shifted my focus, I will pray for God’s peace and joy as we prepare to celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ in just a few weeks.