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Coping with the Holidays

“Comfort comes from knowing that people have made the same journey.
And solace comes from understanding how others have learned to sing again.”  – Helen Steiner Rice

It just happened to catch my eye. Not that I was looking that way for any particular reason but, not only did it catch my eye, it caught my curiosity. Of course, I had to take a closer look.

There, at the edge of the carport under the rose bush, was a curious hump of pine straw. I wasn’t sure what had gotten under the pine straw to make it hump up the way that it did, and my mind raced with ideas, none of which made me very happy. Animal! I knew it was some sort of animal, but the thought of any animal creating that type of hump wasn’t anything that I really wanted to find. Could it be a mole or a vole or ants or a snake? What?! The only way to solve this mystery was to have a look.

Taking the long way into the yard to get the first glimpse from a distance didn’t tell me anything. Closer inspection was needed. Slowly I inched my way to the pine straw hump and got down for a good look. Much to my surprise and gratitude, I found not an animal at all under that pine straw! WHEW! What a relief!

What I did find was a mushroom! A spindly stemmed mushroom with a slight bend in it from the weight of the pine straw! As the mushroom grew, it had pushed the pine straw up in such a way as to create this odd hump. It was quite a find! It was something I’d never seen before.
I’ve thought about that discovery a good bit. Here are a few of my ponderings: Pine straw, individually, doesn’t weigh that much, but for several inches of it to be put in a garden area, collectively, the weight has to increase some. Mushrooms are stronger than I realized. Even the more spindly stemmed ones!
Day after day, that mushroom, in its growing, had to push up that pine straw. That’s impressive. How long had that mushroom been growing like that before it finally caught my eye? The image of that mushroom under that mound of pine straw has stuck with me. I realize that there are many lessons to be found in it. Surely there is a lesson to be found as it relates to grief.

Grief has a way of layering in our lives. One thing, then another, seem to begin to pile up on top of us when we find ourselves in the midst of grief. That’s the way grief can feel for some of us. We find ourselves in a fog, unable to think clearly, often unable to move in any direction.

Grief has a way of feeling like a huge weight upon us, affecting every area of our lives. Especially in the death of a loved one, this weight may often feel unbearable. Maybe we can even see where the grief could feel like that layer of pine straw under the rose bush, those pine needles of grief that keep falling on top of us until the weight of grief takes its toll on us.

Then, along comes the mushroom and offers us, in its natural growth, a different perspective. What if I risk a little growth, even in my grief? What if, even when the weight of my grief feels overwhelming, I try to do something, anything, to make a difference in my grief? Just a little something may help — make a phone call to a friend, offer to do something for someone else, take a walk, read a book, sit outside in the sunshine. Ease into it. Your grief is going to be with you for the rest of your life; some days will be better than others, but it will always be there. But maybe, just maybe, like that spindly stemmed mushroom, when you risk a little growth each day, you may discover that you’re able to lift some of that weight of grief. Be certain that, because of the weight, you’ll find yourself a little bent in places that you weren’t bent before. That’s ok; you’re not the same person you were before your loss. Then, like that mushroom peeking out from under that pine straw, you’ll be able to see out from under that grief a little better. Maybe you’ll be able to get a different perspective on your life. Be careful, though, because you might find a beautiful world out there that’s been waiting patiently on you! Are you ready to take that risk?

As we enter the holiday season, another layer of grief will be added to our lives. For many, this will be the first holiday without your loved one, and this will be difficult. For others, even though it may be years since your loved one died, the sting of not having them with you is still felt. It’s ok to hold onto traditions if that’s what works for you, but it’s also ok to let go of traditions, honoring them for the purposes they served, but trying something new or slightly different if that seems better. Grief continues to be an individual journey, even in times of holidays. Be aware that others will also be affected by their grief, but no one’s grief will be felt the same by all.

Here at Hospice and Community Care, we are ready to grow in your journey with you, if you’d like. Sometimes you may need a pep talk. Sometimes you may need to share an idea with someone. Sometimes you may just need to know that you aren’t alone. Whatever we can do to support you in your grief growth journey is what we want to do. Please give us a call.

Lee Ann Livingston
Spiritual Care Provider

October 1, 2020

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