Grief and the holidays

January 3, 2023
Abby Lentz
The holidays often bring us to a place of marking our grief. Experiencing our first holiday without a loved one, their absence seems to be everywhere. Our traditions seem to have glaring gaps. Celebrations feel flat without that extra voice we know. That special something that we all bring with us, unique wherever we are, just won’t be there. No one is exempt from grief, not even the King of England.
Many of your know that last year I had several dear friends leave the planet, to find myself attending a grief seminar hosted by AARP. The major concept I took away from the session that helped me process grief is in the chart below. Instead of believing that time heals all wounds, and that my grief would grow smaller, I learned that grief remains the same — while life grows larger to surround it.

Our myth about grief is that over time it will grow smaller (A) when, what happens is our grief stays the same while we grow larger around it (B). (From the AARP Grief counseling session 2022),

Grief has led me into a larger life. In retrospect, I see how death of my father opened me up to going to college in my 30's. The loss of my mother put me on the path to walk my first, and to date only, marathon in Ireland. The decline of our newsletter’s prospects spurred me to leave publishing and follow my passion to become a yoga teacher.

While we mainly associate grief with death, in fact there are many faces of grief besides the permanent loss of a loved one. Divorce comes immediately to mind. Not just the loss of a marriage, but the loss of all our expectations of that union which will never come to be. In fact, the loss of any relationship, for whatever reason, can also leave us mourning. Losing a job or home — even when it’s a positive life move — can also cause grief.

As my 75th birthday approaches, I find I need to grieve physical things that have already departed — like my hips and shoulder, replaced over the last 14 years. Or just the gradual slipping away of other abilities, like being able to sleep through the night. Poses that I once did with ease in what seems like only yesterday, are now difficult or even impossible. However, these losses led me to expand and develop Chair Yoga. Now bringing the benefits of yoga to students who have lost mobility or are unable to come down to the floor.

What I know is that every loss deserves its time of recognition and grief. Sorrow needs to repair itself — whatever your loss — allowing your grief to bring you present with your Self. Hugs, a.

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