Tough days of the year that stop us in our tracks
You’re supposed to be happy!
Father’s Day, Mother’s Day, Christmas, Eid, your birthday, someone else’s birthday, anniversary, the list goes on…notable days of the year that are meant to be happy celebrations.
And yet they can stop us in our tracks if there isn’t anything to be happy about.
Dear friends and family are missing their fathers on Father’s Day and so many other days bring sadness in a similar way if you can’t share good times with the person who is meant to be guest of honour.
It’s not just bereavement, it might be that you don’t have the close relationship you see other people celebrating. An already difficult situation can be made worse because of a special date on the calendar.
I was all revved up with a tissue
Here comes my Dad again! I was shopping for a Father’s Day card and saw some really gorgeous ones with the most beautiful sentiments that other people were choosing. I felt the tears coming and reached for a tissue because I knew there would be no point getting one of those cards. Dad wouldn’t understand them and probably wouldn’t even look at the picture if his focus was elsewhere. Alzheimer’s has changed my Dad from someone I can go to for advice and practical help to someone who needs help getting dressed and remembering to eat.
But it’s not taken him away altogether and he loves really obvious smiley faces. In that moment in the card shop I realised I needed to focus on what I HAD got. Not on what was missing. Inside my head, but in a very loud voice I said, “Those people are choosing the right card for their Dad and that’s what I’m doing too”. I stopped wishing he could understand the soppy cards and immediately saw the perfect one for him: Pingu and his Dad on a snow mobile with big open penguin mouths, looking like they were having the time of their lives. It’s not what I would have chosen before but it’s the perfect card this year.
I put my tissues away and bought the card with a smile on my face.
A different way for tough days…
This strategy works in other ways too. I watched an amazing video of an Oprah Whinfrey show on you tube where Gary Zukav talks to a couple who lost one of their twin babies. Watch it here (with a tissue)
I can’t imagine many things more sad…and yet it’s the most heartening, empowering thing to watch. What Gary describes is that when we allow ourselves to be forever torn apart by the grief, what we are missing, in fact what we turn away from, are the gifts that they came to show us. I hope you watch the video, you’ll get a much better idea from hearing it first hand, it’s only 5 minutes long and he explains it in the most careful, gentle way, it’s had a massive impact on the way I see loss.
How can you feel better about tough dates?
Here’s the way we can make this work. Instead of thinking “Oh, that date will always make me think of that loss” we decide – with a strong voice – “That date will be my chance to celebrate the joy that soul brought into my life”.
It’s not easy, it’s not what we’re taught to do, but it frees us and it frees our loved ones. We focus on what we have, what we had and where the joy was. And then we can find more joy in the present moment.
So now it’s Monday already and I watched my Dad as his eye caught the card.I hope you’re not looking for the neat ending about him loving the penguins! He barely noticed them but what did catch his eye were the sparkly star stickers (you know how I love those!) that I had put inside. There’s always something good to find in any situation 😉
You choose your perspective
You may have all kinds of notable dates coming up. I offer you the option – whether you want to focus on the joy and love that came into your life or hold tight to the thorny pain of it leaving. Maybe it’s time to use celebration days to do just that, even if it’s not how you’d choose life to be, you can focus on the gift.
The date comes around whether we like it or not. We can choose whether it’s a reminder of pain or a reminder of love and joy.
Join me in letting go of ‘tough days’ and turn them into ‘special days’ and celebrate our gifts.
Big hugs, lots of love,