As is often the case, I will share an impactful message from professionals who author and contribute to editorial content that I have researched. Such is the case here, with a timely note by award-winning author, speaker, and grief specialist Gary Roe. For over 30 years, he has been a compassionate and trusted voice in grief-recovery bringing comfort, hope, encouragement, and healing to hurting and wounded hearts. This article was actually written for the Thanksgiving holiday, but I chose to include it now for the Christmas and New Year’s holidays, since they are upon us in full force.
The title of this blog is Missing Someone, to which you can have a number of interpretations. The most obvious instance would be someone who has passed away, with others being those who have moved away, been deployed in service of our country, a dream relationship that has broken and ended, etc.
In my case, it’s watching my senior-senior parents drift aimlessly as they bide their time in the nursing home. It is terribly difficult to interact with two people who were once vibrant both mentally and physically, and now have dementia and numerous other physical ailments to the point where they have chosen to isolate themselves. They are totally reliant on the care provided by the nursing staff and other support services, and what I can provide, at least in some small manner. So, while they may not have departed this life, I am missing them every day, but more so at this time of year.
“None of us Boomers are immune. We are surrounded by festive décor, tantalizing food and drink, family gatherings, fun and smiles all around, and expressions of gratitude everywhere. However, underneath the warm hugs and smiling faces, many of us carry wounded hearts. We’re thankful to be with those we love, but there’s also an ache inside that won’t go away. Many of us are missing someone this holiday season, while the holidays can be wonderful, they can also be hard.
Holidays have an astounding ability to surface our losses. During this season, we’re surrounded by voices of the past—cherished memories that we hold dear. We smile, but perhaps we also want to cry. And if we’ve had a loss recently, we’re hyperaware of who’s missing this year.
So, what do we do with that?
The healthiest option is to be real with yourself about what’s happening inside you. That will mean finding a way to express your heart this holiday season. It’s possible to take your own heart seriously—including the pain, the grief, the sorrow and the emptiness rattling around in there—and still make this holiday season good and meaningful.
According to Mr. Roe, here are three quick tips for navigating this holiday with a wounded heart.
First, give yourself permission to miss those who are no longer here, however you might define that. If the right person is missing, your world can feel empty, and perhaps you’re heartbroken or feel shattered inside. We steel ourselves to put on a good face, we hide our grief, we wear a mask and say the right things and participate in all the niceties.
We were all made for connection, that’s how the human species relates. So, when someone we love departs, our heart cracks. If you’re missing someone, it’s okay to hurt. Listen to your heart, because the pain of missing not only honors them but your relationship with them. Give yourself permission to grieve.
Second, find ways to talk about them. Their absence follows us everywhere, it permeates everything. Your heart needs to express itself, you’re grieving because you dared to love.
Find ways to talk about the one or one’s you’re missing. Speak their name—out loud and often. Afterall, there is power in a person’s name, and your voice speaking their name is deeply meaningful. As the memories come, share some of them. If you’re alone, talk out loud, or write it down. You’ll be surprised how healing talking about them can be.
The grief is inside you, and it’s looking for a way out. The more you keep it in, the more likely it is to leak out in ways you won’t like. Others have grief inside them too, by being real and authentic, you give them a chance to express their hearts also.
Be bold, take courage, speak their name, share a memory or story, and honor them by remembering and mentioning them.
Third, make a simple plan to honor the one(s) you miss. Here are a few possibilities:
- Light a candle in remembrance.
- Buy them a card or write them a letter.
- Set up an empty chair and tell them what you’re thankful for about them.
- Make a donation in their honor.
- Serve in a cause that was important to them.
Be creative and do what makes most sense to you. But keep it simple. Grief is an expression of love, so take your heart seriously. This holiday will be different, but it can still be good.“
My thanks to Mr. Roe for his wonderfully insightful advice. Before I had the opportunity to read this message, my heart was filled with tears and sorrow. My BoomerGuy, who happens to be my rock, and I put together a Christmas plan where we honored my parents by giving back to the nursing home staff. As you might guess, it was unique to us. Due to their limitations, my folks might not acknowledge our efforts, but the gratification it gave Bill and me along with the hugs we received and smiles we put on the faces of the nurses, the maintenance staff, the front desk welcoming committee, the kitchen and laundry personnel was our way of wiping away some of the tears.
As Boomers, we all have a story. We’ve lived long enough to have experiences like I’ve described above, and each one is a unique mark of history in our lives. Allow yourself time to sort it out and grieve where necessary, then take the bold step of honoring those you miss. Trust me, it will help you cope and set new ways to be thankful during this Holiday Season.
I am your #1 BoomerGal, at www.boomergal.com, wishing you health and happiness this Christmas season.
“Owning our story and loving ourselves through the process is the bravest thing we will ever do”
Editorial Contribution by Gary Roe, the Wellness Directory