Thanksgiving meant a car trip from Ft. Worth to piney woods of E. Texas (more tall pines in a mile than Amarillo will manage in a year).
Both grandparents were dry land farmers with supporting live stock, chickens, Bill the horse, and a smoke house that lingers with me still. To a kid they were rich...I never saw any money because they had very little.
Thanksgiving the adult sons, daughters, and endless kids came for the special garden veggies, corn bread and more from iron skillets, perhaps a turkey, more often a few less chickens than began the day.
What made this special even today? What rituals do we all follow today learned long ago? Perhaps a pie....butter really from the cows....or humble grandfathers giving an even more humble prayers.
Thanksgiving builds stability in our memory bank of how to live life.
Thanksgiving enriches my, and hopefully yours, understanding of the meaning of family.
There are recipes followed, fragile bowls and plates, and cell calls made on this special day.
This would not be a Hope & Healing Place blog if I did not also give words to those who most special child, spouse, grandparent, or friend died on or near Thanksgiving. At the HHP center some families take a calendar break for a year while others make it through, as best they can, for the kids. We encourage families to leave space at the table
"for the one not there."
Thanksgiving is special because of yesterday but also for today as we all today build our today's meaning and recipes into this day. Share your memories and stories as Comments....Your memories strengthen us all.
I really can still walk into that unpainted smoke house, full of wonder and promise of an even better tomorrow.
National Children's Grief Awareness Day began locally in Pennsylvania several yrs ago and now nationally. The 150 grief centers around the nation,
and others, call attention to children and teens and their unique grief journey when there is a family, peer, or family death. The death can be anticipated or sudden loss.
Younger children are often called "the forgotten mourners"
as we all tend look over them in our own numbness and struggle with a
Each child or teen attempts to make sense of what has happened
in their family, school, or community world as best they can with each stage of developmental and age.
So, on Nov. 21st, Hope & Healing Place calls your attention to the grieving child and teen.
The death might have been recent, last yr, or event 5 or more yrs ago. Adjustment to grief changes as
children age, ask different questions, and need more or maturing information to match who the child is today.
Blessings to our children and teens.
Hope & Healing Place serves children and teens each day and we see the miracles of healing that happens as
children trust others, tell their story, and continue to learn, grow, heal.
Roger and Mary have both recently retired.
RV trips with their daughter and grandkids was their joy.
And then, a tragic car accident on wet highway ended their daughter's life.
Now, with one phone call, Roger and Mary were moving two grandchildren into their down-sized condo and at the same time grieving the missing of their daughter.
Roger and Mary's story is not unusual.
They love their grandkids and are committed to walking this grief journey with them every day.
This "new family" attended our Generations, family support group to learn coping skills and continue the adjustments with their mother's sudden death.
Everyone's calendars and daily activities have changed.
The RV is parked, replaced with soccer and cheerleader practice.
Roger and Mary do not have the same energy as when their daughter was a young teen.
Both grandparents and grandkids are learning how all this will work together.
They will struggle with their grief in their individual age and together as family.
They have faced the pain of loss and honored their mother and daughter on her birthday.
Roger and Mary's story is a combination of the stories of so many grandparents and grandkids who attend support groups in grief centers in so many cities across America. We are proud of their courage. We stand with them to find the soccer fields, share tears of missing, and celebrate the small, daily achievements important to all families.
Tina's story is similar to others who have experienced a spouse death and her struggle with missing, yearning, and continuing to live each day with Hope.
Tina's husband died 4 months ago. A medical death without prior health warning.
Tina enrolled in our Journey Support Group where she not only found a safe place to tell her story but also listen and learn through the stories of others in our circle group. Group by group, story by story, Tina has begun to restore some sense of normal, even though this is a "new normal" for Tina and her son.
Tina's husband and son had planned spring trip to several colleges.
Now, with sudden income loss and unplanned expenses of a funeral, those college plans are not as secure as before her husband's death.
Tina is going to make it through 2013 with a new sense of Hope as she and their son enter 2014.
What Tina has learned is none of do this grief journey alone.
What Tina has learned is friends and family can say hurtful things, even when trying to be helpful.
What Tina has learned is she now shares a story with so many other women (& men).
What Tina has learned is this journey she did not ask for will be yrs of facing new challenges, learning and sharing coping skills that work for her, and know others are with her all the way.
Tina's story of loss, adjustment , and healing is similar to other women and men enrolled in our support groups.
As a FBook or web blog reader what is your story? How can Hope & Healing be a part of your journey?
We are here, ready to serve.
Last week's blog on women and work and home brought good comments but also "What about men?"
This blog applies to both women & men but today is about men.
One of the many truths is that generally men are Rewarded & Encouraged "To Do Too Much."
Promotions, salary increase, even more work!
When I worked at trauma center we would have to pry cell phones from heart attack patients on a gurney being moved to Trauma 1. After a angry moment about "I have to too much to do to be here...give me my phone," many times there would be Relief because an external reason meant these men had to stop, could not do more.
African-American, Hispanic, Asian men faces face additional challenges to serve on boards, coach football or baseball, be a dad and spouse, and find their way through work and offices. As one dad said to me recently, "I could serve on 10 community boards tomorrow. There are not enough minorities in a position to do all this; I struggle every day to Do It All."
Volunteers in most non-profits, excluding great places as Kid's Inc., are women. Hope & Healing Place are blessed to have many younger volunteers as well as more experienced volunteers. The latest trend is volunteering Couples, which is great! We hear and the couple strengthening each other and learning together.
I also know about "Doing Too Much," I am on the lap top or iPad at 6:30am with often an evening meeting or group....&, like many of us men, "I love what I do."
Like I recommended for women last week, we men have to find our health, our balance, and still face daily challenges of home, office, and community. Yes, "We All Do Too Much"...both men and women. There is a truth that we can do more by doing less and go faster by going slower.
Good comments last week...I hope some men will comment on this 30 second read....We all continue.
A working mother, married, with children, parked her car in front of a store to get diapers.
This was her last stop after a long work day, child care, food for dinner.
She could not get out of the car. She could not move.
From this experience she wrote a book
She heard quickly from thousands of women and mothers who "got it."
Each of us daily attempt to work from long lists, achieve more, do more in our cars than driving.
Hope & Healing Place has younger women staff and volunteers.
; Daily they carry bags, kids, lap tops.
Many of these great leaders are tired, burdened with over-loaded calendars, rarely stop moving.
Regularly I tell these moms and spouses to leave...go home...I changed the locks!
Perhaps a grief and loss center attracts the performing, achieving mothers more than other places, but I think not.
We are daily attempt to put 16 oz of tomatoes in an 8 oz jar....and wonder why that never seems to work...why we can't catch up with the "Now" that drives us all,
So, if our lists will never shorten, what to do??? A few small starts to a balanced life.
-- Take 10 minute breaks, walks, be still
-- Go to that exercise class...value your health as "your time"
-- Tell your supervisor you need help and support so you are not setting in your car and not be able to move
-- When you know you are blurring the lines with lists, tasks, calendars, have a sort list of true friends who will share a latte in a moment's call.
Hard to admit but we each can, really, only achieve or do so much each day, night, weekend.
We are now raising a generation of younger women who have learned from us to do more, be more.
Now, together, we can also show these younger women health and wellness....OR, maybe these younger women can show us the better path?????
An ESPN host recently said "Baseball is a Story sport."
My immediate thought was "That is what grief work is.....Telling Your Story....and listening to the story of others.
Storytelling is the most effective way of communicating who you are as well as connecting to others.
Storytelling puts a death in a family or peer in context who children , teens....all of us.
Storytelling can explain what happened, the impact of loss, and set a path to healing.
Storytelling is a way of understanding ourselves and our family.
I had long ago uncles and grandparents who told stories in E. Texas pine forests.
I remember not the stories but the importance of their being in a chair circle, of listening, of hearing what is now in some ways a lost art.
At Hope & Healing Place our staff and volunteers have many roles.
One role we value highly is as "a gatherer of stories."
Our story library is now moving to video on HHP web, Utube, and more.
Families and individuals will share their grief journey for posting in social media as their way, and our way, of supporting the story of others, of giving encouragement, of saying "This is not easy....You will be OK....You do not do this grief journey alone."
Stay close as we introduce you to the video storytelling by families and individuals who want to share their grief story with you.
What is your story??? We are good listeners at Hope & Healing Place.
Join Our Email List