As a geriatric care manager, I know I have reached an important milestone when a client shares with me disappointments that have been tucked away. I have found these disappointments and regrets to be most prevalent as birthdays, anniversaries and holidays approach.
As these clients confide their respective disappointments, I think to myself how the scales of parental balance are different in childhood. I recall when someone’s birthday or a holiday was approaching, I was told to make the congratulatory call. But such coaching only goes one way. I know there is a mother or father hoping for a call from his/her son or daughter. And I also know there is a “history” that is stopping that call from happening. But who am I to tell an adult child to call home? Instead, I try to provide a mother or father with ways of coping with this unwelcome time. The following are several approaches I suggest:
- Be gentle with yourself. If you don’t want to celebrate you don’t have to.
- You decide what you can comfortably handle, not others.
- Stay away from Facebook (yes, I did say Facebook!) and other social media sites. A smile may be only for the camera.
- Override your instinct to isolate. Loneliness feeds on itself.
- Spend time with people who care about you, who are nurturing and supportive.
- Create rituals to remember loved ones, including pets.
- Head off problems. Think about people or situations that will trigger stress and how you can best handle the situation.
- If old traditions cause heartbreak and depression, change the tradition. Start traditions that make the most sense in your life now.
- Stay in the NOW at family gatherings. Don’t go to the past or dwell on resentments, it will only get you down.
For all of us, practicing gratitude and appreciation for what we do have, will remind us of the fullness each day can offer.