The Holidays and Hope

The Holidays and Hope

The seasons are changing.  We are now experiencing much cooler weather in South Carolina, a few leaves are changing colors, warmer clothing is being worn, there are many reminders in the stores that Thanksgiving and Christmas are rapidly approaching and, soon we will make the annual daylight savings time change.   The harvest season is reaching a time of completion yet; plans are already underway for planting the winter crops or perhaps plan for the spring. 

Perhaps you are in a season of change in your personal life.  What are we harvesting this season in our personal lives?  What new are we planting in our personal lives?  What are we thankful for?  What are we hoping for?    What changes may be helpful?  What should stay the same?    Do you ask yourself these questions?  I know many folks who do.   

We are approaching both a season of hope and yet, a season that for many may also dig up some grief and questions about hope.

A resident recently asked me “please take me to the front so I can get a ride home”.    She has recently been placed in a long term care facility and is grieving that she is no longer in her ‘home’.   She also is enjoying the care, love and activities of her new residence and yet, yearns for a ‘ride home’.   She is both hopeful and grieving.    Do you ever feel something like this?   Do you know someone else who may be struggling with finding that balance between acknowledging grief and finding hope? 

How do we balance hope and grief?

The goal of everything, including suffering/grief, is hope.  God intends for sufferings /grief to produce hope…through faith.      Hope is an elusive gift; a quality of the spirit.  Hopers are the ones who endeavor to beat back a crisis or affliction and resume perhaps a new normal in life. 

The question for many is; how do we as a suffering humanity dispense hope?  

Tis the season to brush up on dispensing hope!

. Be present with someone.  This is a gift.   Are you worried about what to give someone this holiday season?  Try the gift of hope with your presence with them.

. Share a moment of humanity.  Write a note, poem, or even one word to someone who may be in a crisis this changing season.

. Call someone, listen and affirm them in their feelings and needs.

. Call someone IF YOU are experiencing a crisis in the changing season and holidays. Allow someone to be a part of your needs.

. If you practice a faith, and I hope you do, practice a moment of silent and holy time for yourself and with loved ones on a regular basis.  Attend a local faith service, even if you do not belong to a church, synagogue, mosque or other faith community. Call a church, synagogue, mosque or other community group of your choice and ask for a ride to join them.

. Do not allow yourself to be completely engulfed by the secular world of the holidays.  While the holidays and seasonal changes may offer one moments of joy and happiness in sharing with others, they have also been known to create crisis.

. Hope and faith have been proven in many personal lives of faith to be healing and medicinal.

Seasonal changes, time changes, and changes in life all have one thing in common.  All change, regardless of whether it is considered a good or not so good change, may bring with it grief. One may be happy in the moment and hopeful and yet feel moments of grief, sadness of longing for what was.    In this season when daylight is shorter and darkness comes earlier, or in the season when expectations may run high for the holidays, grief may slip in.  If this is the case, how does one navigate this grief with more ease and grace?   

. Expect grief.  It is a normal human emotion.  Make space for this grief and allow oneself to be…

. One may be both sad and grateful simultaneously. 

.Honor the loss during the holidays…talks about the loss you miss. Affirm life and hope

.Create new customs.   

.Find someone to help.  There are holiday grief support group’s available and other means of support.

.Write a holiday letter or journal a poem to your loved one or about your loss

. Be honest about your feelings when asked.

. Practice self-care.   

. Give oneself space and a quiet time for the soul

As we look back on the year past and, the  seasons of  life, the new seasons ahead  and, the new year, may we look forward together , hopeful, confident in faith that it will be one of growth towards positive expectations, naturally confident on something great happening.   

“May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope” (Romans 15:13)