Every year around the holidays I encounter people with stories who tell about their current or past holidays that have been less than cheerful. Far too often we consider the yearly festivities that take place, must be gloriously happy and filled with fun and frolic. But in other families, there are those who must suffer through a time when everyone else is being happy and they are in a most dark and saddened state. What likely makes it even worse for them is seeing nearly everyone else enjoying this time and they are left feeling all the more alone.
Several times I’ve heard people say the death rate is much higher in and around Thanksgiving and Christmas. I wouldn’t be surprised if the longer dark nights and the cold tend to give the spirits of those who are ill more of a push towards the glowing door that stands between life and death.
Someone I had a chat with several days ago spoke of his mother who is at death’s doorstep, and in a most determined tone said, “She’s going to pull through this because she’s a strong woman and we’ve had enough death in our family for one year.” That’s all I could say was, “I do hope you’re right”. After walking away I thought, “Who are we to determine when someone else’s time has come to exit this world?” Having had some of my relatives pass during the cusp of Christmas days, I know full well how the Christmas season has more of a negative effect on the grieving process. I knew a woman who for some years said when she goes, she’s going to go out with a bang. The strangest of coincidences was that she passed quietly away in a hospital bed on the 4th of July. I smiled and thought, “Wow. She had already prophesized her own death.” If I had only known, I would have likely lit a few firecrackers for her before she became suddenly ill and died. It’s hard to say what words to offer those suffering during these times other than an attempt to empathize their grief and likely find a candle to light for them during their hours and days of darkness, and make a wish for their burdens to be lighter.
Not long ago I was on the periphery of several people who were very angry at nearly everyone regarding a natural death of a loved one. I couldn’t help wondering why they were so angry. Keeping my distance, I was left to simply consider they were in a state of denial as well as guilt. Death doesn’t wait for someone to make amends or play catch-up with things that should have been done or words that should have been spoken. When the book of our lives is opened by a divine hand, it is also closed with that very same hand. Someone told me several days ago that years ago he went to a fortuneteller and she said told him that he would live to be 79 years old, and if he paid her another $50.00, she would tell him how he would die. I’m glad he didn’t take her up on the offer. Every day of our lives is a gift and we must continue to be mindful it is to be lived to its fullest. Let’s take just a moment or two and reflect on the sorrows of others who are experiencing their holiday of sadness.