That time of year—from Thanksgiving through New Year’s. Happiness. Sadness. Hugging those who walk in the door. Remembering who sat in these chairs in years gone by. Familiar songs about happy holidays running from everyone’s playlists.
A friend posted an appeal to help a vet’s family pay for his funeral. In a final family picture he has a smiling little boy in each arm and lovely wife leaning over one shoulder. And his eyes are so empty, another soul carrying the weight of PTSD. Back from another deployment, people caring for him and keeping watch, yet he ended his life. On Thanksgiving morning. Dozens of family members and friends and fellow Marines received the sad news before sitting down to the holiday meal.
There are no traditions for merging the happiest time of the year with the emotional pain of loss, whether sudden or lingering. Don’t think poorly of those whose lives were sadly changed during this time of year. Give them a hug if that would be accepted. Invite them to have a chair and a cup of comfort, yet respect their decision to spend time alone.
Tone down the playlist and let the music of your voice be all they need to hear. Talk about the weather, your favorite sports team, how the dog dragged in something disgusting. Listen with your heart. Let that be your gift.