About Donna:

Donna Mantone-Adinolfi is a writer who focuses on the Spa lifestyle, Spa travel, health & wellness, and nutrition. She advocates a philosophy of mindful well-being and devotes herself to educating others on ways to improve their physical and mental health through the columns she writes for Balance Magazine and Lifestyles 50+ Magazine as well as her daily life.

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On the Fifth Day of Christmas, my spa friends gave to me

December 18th, 2007 by Donna

a message of comfort and joy!

This is from one of my columns and is about celebrating the season, being with family and for some it may be going home or welcoming home our loved ones. 

 

 

This time of year may also be more difficult for others who have lost a loved one, whether recently or not.  We are touched by the loss and while we grieve as part of the journey, we can also find a way to let joy into our lives this season and throughout our lives.  I am also speaking from personal experience and have recently come across information that I wanted to share with you.  I hope you will find comfort in these words and peace in your journey. 

 

In my heart of hearts I know my loved one’s wish for me was to live a joyous life and pursue my dreams.  He lived with courage and led with kindness and although he physically isn’t here, I know he’s in my heart and that will get me through the holidays and life. 

 

I’ve included an outline below of helpful hints to help make space for holiday joy from Intuitive psychologist Susan Apollon, author of Touched by the Extraordinary: An Intuitive Psychologist Shares Insights, Lessons, and True Stories of Spirit and Love to Transform and Heal the Soul. I hope you will find comfort in her insight.

 

First, give yourself permission to cry.  Apollon’s mantra on dealing with grief is “face it, embrace it, and replace it.” In other words, the only way to “get over” sadness is to experience it. “If you need to cry, cry, even if you’re at a party and have to leave the room,” says Apollon. “You might even set aside an evening to get in touch with your grief. Fix the cocoa you used to drink with your mother or go through your photo albums. It’s healthier to feel the sadness and loss than to detach yourself from it. It’s right and normal to grieve; just don’t make it the dominant part of who you are.”
It’s okay to break tradition. It’s also okay to say no. You know your own limitations, says Apollon. If you simply can’t face hosting your annual holiday feast, complete with dozens of relatives, don’t try to soldier through it for the sake of your guests. People will understand. In fact, it’s okay to leave town altogether. “Some people find it helpful to get away completely, to somewhere that doesn’t remind them of holidays past,” notes Apollon. “You might consider a tropical vacation, or you might take the time to visit a friend across the country. Doing something completely different can be a good coping mechanism, especially for that first tough year.”
Honor your lost loved one in a way that feels comfortable to you. It’s usually better to acknowledge your loss than to pretend that nothing has changed. You might light a special candle for your loved one, hang a tree ornament in his memory, or bring out a favorite photo. “Some clients actually set a place at the table for their missing family member,” says Apollon. “I’ve even had a few tell me they received a ‘message’ of gratitude from their loved one for acknowledging him or her! On the other hand, some people discover that the empty chair is more upsetting than comforting. Do what feels right to you.”
Invite your loved one to be a part of your holiday experience. Apollon means this literally, not figuratively. She suggests that you talk with your lost loved one and share your feelings with him throughout the holidays. Ask for guidance and help from the person. He will hear you and may even send a sign—perhaps a whiff of his cologne or a smoky image in a photograph or a synchronistic moment—so pay attention. “There are many ways to communicate with someone who isn’t with us in the physical sense,” says Apollon. “Journaling your feelings to the person can help you release your pain and provide a greater sense of clarity. I often encourage my clients to verbally invite the person they are missing to be with them and to ask them for signs. However, don’t anxiously wait around for the signs. Ask and then let it go. Allow whatever happens to unfold naturally.”
On the other hand, if you absolutely can’t find any holiday joy, go find some other kind. Maybe you’re too depressed or too angry with God to celebrate Christmas or Hanukkah even in a tiny way. That’s okay, says Apollon. But don’t deprive yourself of all joy. Go to a movie. Meet a friend for coffee. Take a long nature hike with your beloved dog. “The law of attraction says that if you want positive experiences, you need to do something that feels good,” Apollon points out. “Make it a priority to do something that brings pleasure, even if it’s not holiday related.”
Learn to be conscious of the moment. Practice being fully present in the now; it truly is where joy resides. “Every day of your life, every moment of your life, you can choose joy or not,” Apollon reflects.  “Of course, no one feels joyful all the time, but when we learn to live in the present—to really pay attention to how food tastes or what a child’s laugh sounds like or how the snowflakes look against the edge of the woods—we can savor moments of delight even in a time of grief.”
Realize that miracles really do happen at the holidays. Here’s the thing about the holidays, says Apollon. They really are magic. You knew this as a child but may have forgotten it. But spiritual occasions like holidays allow us to step outside the box we live in most of the time and let miracles in. “Paradoxical as it sounds, grief and holidays are a lot alike,” she reflects. “They both help us detach from trivial things and focus on what’s important, what’s real. Open your mind and heart this year and see what happens. Maybe you’ll feel a sense of connection with your loved one who passed on, or maybe you’ll feel joy for the first time since your loss. Either one might qualify as a miracle.”
Touched by the Extraordinary: An Intuitive Psychologist Shares Insights, Lessons, and True Stories of Spirit and Love to Transform and Heal the Soul (Matters of the Soul, 2005, ISBN: 0-9754036-4-8, $19.95) is available at bookstores nationwide and from major online booksellers.  For more information, visit:  www.touchedbytheextraordinary.com

 

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