For a few weeks now, Rennie and I had been making plans to head to Texas this Thanksgiving weekend to be with our parents. It was NOT going to be easy, we really needed to work, but our hearts longed for ‘home’- the first home we grew up in with the parents who loved us to adulthood and beyond.
But that was not to be- and for several days I have physically grieved what couldn’t be and struggled to see what was. Isn’t that how it is sometimes? We get consumed by what we don’t have and we forget to see what is right in front of us.
However today as I sat around our dinner table filled with family (Brielle and her hubby Jason, along with Jason’s parents, Gary and Betty Augsburger) I was filled with gratitude. Our last minute dinner party was a special moment I was glad to be part of. And while I knew what I was missing ‘back home’, I was grateful for this lovely shared experience.
But even around this table we spoke of the absences we all felt this year. Ren's dad passed away the day before Easter. Betty’s mom’s home-going was a week later. Our kids had each lost a grandparent. We reminisced of holidays past- some of them were not wonderful, though we found things to be grateful for even then.
My thoughts this year have often gone to those who are struggling this holiday- either because of the loss of a loved one, or a frightening diagnosis concerning their health., or a job loss or relationship ache. So many are facing such difficult circumstances during this season. The fact that the days are getting shorter and, at least in Ohio, have been cold and often gray, only amplifies the sense of loneliness and isolation.
As you gather with your ‘family’ - whether they be family by blood or by choice - who are the people in your life that are hurting? Perhaps they have smiles that feel pasted. Or maybe they politely declined an invitation to join in - again. Or maybe they seem to be lashing out in conversations that does not seem consistent with who you know them to be.
What can you do to come alongside them during this time?
Here are a couple of things I have thought of:
Don’t expect too much.
Sure you can invite them to your events. If they come, embrace them. If they don’t, accept them. Being in situations where you feel like you should feel happy- but you aren’t- is hard. If they ask what they can bring, let them bring something simple. If they don’t ask- don’t ask them to bring anything. Sometimes just showing up is huge!
Don’t be afraid to talk about their pain.
If they don’t want to talk about it, be ok with it. Some people need to talk, other’s would rather not - at least not in a big group. Perhaps they would share more in private. But even then, let them lead.
If they want to talk, LISTEN!
They don’t need to you to have answers, in fact, as much as they wish someone could take the pain away, they don’t want you to fix them. They just need to tell you what they are seeing, and feeling. Sometimes it is really hard to listen deeply, especially if you are experiencing your own emotions related to their loss. Hear me say, “THAT’S OK!”
If you feel you are not the one to come alongside your loved one in their pain,
consider giving a gift that says “I see you! I care about your pain.”
My heart breaks for the person whose heart is breaking this holiday season. That is why I am offering a special ‘coaching’ package- GREEN HOPE COACHING FOR THE HARD STUFF - though it is not conventional coaching. It is more a partnering of one person who has known what it is like to struggle with pain- and one who is experiencing it now.
I don’t have answers, but I can help ask the questions to help your loved one process their own answers, emotions and behaviors during this difficult time. I know that while grief/ pain/ brokenness is a lonely journey, we don’t have be alone in it.
You can find out more about GREEN HOPE COACHING FOR THE HARD STUFF here.
I also want you to know about the THANKSGIVING SPECIAL ($20 Savings) if you reserve your month long support package- for your loved one, or for yourself before Sunday, November 25th at midnight (Eastern).
Because of the sensitive nature of these sessions, I have a limited number of openings so that I can better serve those I work with. Click on the link to find out more and reserve your spot today with the added savings.
Whether you take advantage of this offer or not, my prayer is that you will take advantage of the opportunity to share HOPE this holiday with those you love.
Green Hope in a sometimes Brown World.
Here’s to a HOPE-filled holiday!