They abound at this time of the year, we as a nation have historically not so good at celebrations unless they involve invoking the lesser gods of Rugby, Racing, Cricket or the rest of the international sports that we compete in, usually team sports. There seems to have been an increase in graduation ceremonies, reaching down to our Primary Schools and even Kindergartens, whilst I am not sure about Americanisation of our society perhaps this is one thing we could embrace, but I digress. I attended my youngest daughters prize-giving today I looked at the eager young faces, a certain excitement filled the air, perhaps more that the ceremony reflected the end of the school year, well who wouldn’t celebrate. Tonight I am catering the supper for another bunch of people. 55 of them Graduate from Pathways Bible College, one of my other daughters organises this and has roped me in (willingly to oversee supper. My other daughter (yes three of them) celebrates new life, with the birth of another child.
These three events, connected by my relationships with people in them all are connected in other ways. They all involve new starts. New starts are an important part of life, soon we celebrate New Years traditionally a time of new starts in life. I also will have a new start in 2016 as I celebrate love and get married early in January. The thing about new starts is that there is an implication that there are old finishes. Unlike the birth of another grandchild for me, the rest of the celebrations are bout closing of chapters.
Sometimes chapters close not by our own choice and Christmas time is a poignant reminder of closed chapters for many people, for many there is no celebration of a new beginning there is only deep desperation, sorrow, grief and blackness that is very hard to imagine. Endings that seem complete beyond any resurrection or any new start. What do we say to people in those situations. I have experienced Christmas like this. My situation has involved loss but not of a final kind. Our challenge is what to say to those caught in the kind of change that has a finality, death is the most obvious of these. I have spoken before of a well-meaning but frankly ignorant friend of mine who wanted to give me a hug, the occasion was the death of my brother, I had warned him that should he touch me I would clean his clock, knock his block off, flatten him…. You get the picture. Firstly you see this person didn’t hug me before, why would I want them to hug me then, secondly I didn’t want them to hug me, there was no hug that would take away the finality of that loss, I felt ill at the though of this person hugging me. It is this kind of presumptuous and sometimes gratuitous kind of action that can merely add to the sorrow of the people who are grieving.
What do we say to the broken hearted? What are the right words, well sometimes there are no words, nothing to be said and an acknowledgement that there is nothing that you can say is an acknowledgement of their grief, oh and please, if you didn’t call them before or support them or have a relationship, don’t say if you ever need to talk call me, The only person who feels better with that is you.
Sometimes you see it is just too late, all the should haves could ofs in the world, don’t change a thing. The last thing someone needs to hear is I am sorry I should have talked to them, I thought there was something wrong. Keep those feelings, words, recollections, guilty feelings to yourself, sure seek out a friend to talk them through but not with the person involved if that makes sense.
What you may say has all this to do with celebration, well here it is. I am facing a health scare at the moment, now the seriousness of it I don’t know as yet and I have to say the waiting for results is pretty boring and has left me doubting myself to say the least. It has been complicated by a sever reaction to a medication which has seen me plumb the depths of a living hell from a psychological point of view. I don’t much feel like celebrating right now. I have taken care of the medication issue and am quickly climbing out of that, the health issue well… who knows just yet. The point is that the health issue is a known one, I have notice, should it be an irrecoverable one (and I am pretty sure it is not) I will have had time to make my peace as it were, sort any loose ends out. There are many people out there who wish they could have had the chance, but a sudden, unexplainable ,cruel and devastating act has happened and no goodbyes have happened. There is no antidote to this, but there is a vaccination, though, that is to live your life as much as you can celebrating the day, life, don’t let the sun go down on your anger, try and restore relationships where you can and.
Live, Laugh, Love