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Friday, November 19, 2010


We all fear it. No one wants to talk about it. Yet death is as certain as life and no one can escape its grip.

Some of us find comfort through faith; that there is something after death. Nirvana, heaven, another incarnation perhaps; yet no one really knows for sure. That's why we must make the most of the life we know is certain - here and now.

This time of year seems to exacerbate death. Some who are dying, hold on through a holiday; others die before it comes. Survivors experience profound loss at subsequent holidays, for many years to come. A wise therapist once told me that layering new memories on top of the sad ones helps you deal with that time of year, and to move forward. It doesn't mask the grief, but it brings a new perspective. One that celebrates the good memories of those we have lost, and associates the holidays with current, happier times in our lives.

I know this from experience. I lost a young husband the day before Thanksgiving. The time leading up to subsequent Thanksgivings was unbearable; even as I formed new, happy memories to associate with the holiday. By the third year, I realized I wasn't so tense and irritable all of November. While I took the time to reflect and remember, no longer was their a "death grip" on me all month.

Today, so many years later, I still remember, but now I look forward to Thanksgiving with my cousins, who are very close to me. Now, Thanksgiving is something I look forward to with happy anticipation, not dread.

Have patience with yourself. Build new memories while cherishing the old.

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