We called her Monty. A nickname, for sure, but to call her by her “real” name would mean that you may be talking to yourself, for she may not respond. Looking back, I know that Monty was a gem. We met when I worked in a retirement community. Monty was an “independent resident,” and was she ever independent! She kept pretty much to herself, doing her own thing, but she did like for us to have lunch together as often as possible.
During one of our lunches, Monty was excitedly talking about the new bed linens she had purchased. One thing led to another in our conversation, and we talked and laughed about how we each had learned to make a bed. During that conversation, after comparing notes on bedmaking, I commented about not liking the covers being too tight around my feet but not knowing what to do about it, considering how I was taught to make a bed properly. It was then that Monty confessed to the same dislike and shared what would turn out to be quite the aha moment for me. After her confession, she looked at me and said, “I finally figured it out, and I don’t tuck the top sheet in at the foot of the bed anymore. It makes all the difference. Don’t tuck the sheet in, Lee Ann.”
I will never forget Monty for that one moment. As silly as it seems in hindsight, Monty taught me a great lesson that day. I will always remember Monty for giving me permission to rethink my approach to bedmaking. Through the years, I have come to understand that Monty gave me a much greater lesson that day: Rethinking all aspects of my life isn’t something to be afraid of.
We are now starting a brand-new year. For many, the beginning of the new year is a time of making resolutions. Why make resolutions? There are as many reasons as the people who make them, but the idea of the new year offering a clean slate is appealing to many and may be the basis for resolutions. Maybe the idea is that the new year presents an opportunity to live life differently.
I don’t make resolutions. I’ve never gotten into it, I guess. But, years ago, Monty gave me an idea that has taken root! Rethinking has become very important to me through the years. I am not the same person I was yesterday or many years ago. Surely, in the years of my life, more has changed than just the physical aspect of growing up. Through experiences and encounters with others in my lifetime, I’ve been exposed to so much that affects my thoughts, opinions, and beliefs. Rethinking just makes sense to me.
Is rethinking easy? Absolutely not, and it may take a bit of courage, especially for those things that really matter. But, when I can challenge myself and allow myself to voice my doubts and curiosities, to question and take a good look at my opinions and beliefs, I have made some wonderful discoveries. Sometimes, I don’t budge from my positions but find that they are reinforced as foundational for me. Sometimes, I realize that I don’t need some of the baggage I carry around, and I’m able to experience great freedom in letting go. Always, I find a greater openness to those around me and learn and grow from different perspectives, realizing that we have more in common than what separates us.
As we move into this new year, I invite you to join me in rethinking things in our lives, specifically concerning ideas about grief and the ways we experience it. Maybe you have already been doing this, and good for you if you have. If not, maybe you’ll give it a try. So often, we get caught in the struggle of trying to grieve based on what we have been told by someone or by what we have learned to be the “right” way to grieve. Grief will become beneficial for us only when we give it the freedom to accompany us in ways that bring meaning and honor to our loss.
Who knows? Rethinking your relationship with grief may be the beginning of an exciting journey of rethinking other aspects of your life. I believe that somewhere, Monty is smiling and cheering us on!
As always, I welcome your calls, conversations, and stories. Here at Hospice and Community Care, we care about you and how your grief journey unfolds. We understand that “what’s next?” is never easy but always worth it. If we may provide a listening ear, a companion for your journey, or a casserole, please give us a call. Please note that we are much better in the listening
Lee Ann Livingston
Spiritual Care Provider
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