Six years ago my daughter gave me a gift that transformed my life. I realize that is a bold statement but I genuinely feel that way. The gift was an iPad. Now understand that I learned windows on a desktop with lots of tears and bad words. I could email, look at the internet, and do some graphics but nothing like my iPad. It was easy to use, I never felt like the iPad would blow up if I hit the wrong key, and no tears were involved. No I understand you might think that my daughter helped me learn but no she told me I was on my own after setting up my email and cloud account and showing me where I could find apps to download. I taught myself and opened up an online store. I worked social media and with three different printers over 4 years I could master anything. I do almost EVERYTHING online. The reason I tell you this rather long winded story is this: I’m not young. I cringe when I have someone tell me that they can’t learn computer, they can’t keep up, or they don’t want to. I cringe because I am the same age as the people telling me this and all I hear is fear. I help when they ask a question in regards to “online questions” and I even go so far as to do a lot of things for them online which I don’t really mind at all. I do worry how isolated seniors will feel as technology flies at the speed of sound these days. Each year a senior doesn’t learn the more they will not understand what the generation below them is talking about, the more they won’t understand the world and how to function within it, and the more they will be afraid.
If you have lost of loved one whether it be years ago or as recent as this past year then you know how difficult the holidays are. You might even have some well meaning person to remind you of how hard holidays are without a loved one , as if you didn’t understand.
I lost many loved ones on special or holidays, New Years Eve-brother, Christmastime- brother, stepfather- my wedding anniversary, 4th of July- mother, my birthday- brother. Although this is an unusual amount of loved ones to lose by the age of 40 , it is also an odd number of celebrations to loose loved ones on. I decided i needed to embrace these holidays which is how my business FloralMemorials came about. My husband was a contractor and often had wooden stakes and the idea came to me to paint and decorate them so I could have something to decorate the graves for any holiday or celebration. This need to celebrate has been an amazing experience for me and one that I am most grateful for.
Those deaths have been 20-30 years ago and I have found that those days in between holidays have brought me the most comfort, understanding, clarity, and peace. Every single day a thought drifts through my mind or I drive by a part of town that sparks my memory but always with a smile and no longer with a tear or lump in my throat. Those days in between are just as important if not more than the few holidays we share. Own those days they can’t be given back to you and they are amazing.
My family members, as it happened, passed on or near holidays, Christmas time, Fourth of July, my wedding anniversary, New Years Eve, my birthday. It’s not like they planned their deaths to occur on days that would be a constant reminder of their deaths that’s just the way my road in life lead.
I had children that I was raising so I kept my thoughts about this “holiday passing” to myself and refused to let the holidays be anything but happy for my family. It was hard, but not painful to the point I couldn’t function, that would come later.
It’s funny how we can fill our lives and our minds to distract us from our troubles. I told myself that I was a strong person and that I carried on for my kids and their happiness, after all you can’t walk this earth wounded very minute of every day, right?
This is what I learned the hard way…..
Distractions are just that, they keep you busy but you don’t heal. I woke up one morning and my kids were grown and thriving in the world and I looked around for someone I knew and that’s when the grief and pain of losing everyone came down on me like a wave of nausea. It was Christmas time and I fumbled through crying to myself everyday and not understanding why. Grieving, although it might make others uncomfortable, is necessary part of our human function. When we grieve we are aware of our loss and the changes it will make in our lives. When we choose to be the strong soldier our grief will find its way out of our bodies sometime in some form whether we want it to or not.
If you are grieving then carry on and don’t worry so much about others feeling uncomfortable around you, you can always apologize later if you want. Distractions are just that – distractions – not because you are super human or emotionally untouchable it just means you are choosing not to deal with something at that particular moment.
Grief will come, it’s just part of who we are as humans.
While living with my Grandmother, from the age of 19 until my marriage at 25, we would have so many discussions about everything you can imagine. We would spend hours talking about family, kids, sex, marriage, childhood, mistakes, and so much more.
Many of the comments she made during our life discussions have stayed very vivid in my mind. Some of the things she said I didn’t understand completely until I was older or trying to work through one of life’s many twist.
When I saw this beautiful statue I instantly remembered something she said. “You know your body gets older with time but your mind is still remembering the seventeen year old you once were.” I can remember thinking at the time that being seventeen was a good time in her life. As I have grown older I understand so much more of what she was saying. As you grow older your body does fail you, your happy memories of your youth come to mind so much more than they used to, but keeping that seventeen year old mind and heart is what is so important.
My Grandmother passed away just a few months short of her 104th birthday. I believe she is now forever 17.
This post is in honor of her birthday, October 11.
Now I should start this post by telling you I’m a baby-boomer, and the millennial generation is a favorite group of mine.
First let me remind anyone reading this post that we were all young even though we are very selective with our memory when it comes to how we behaved, our opinions, our attitudes towards others who were older than us. I can remember thinking that I was smarter, better acting, and our opinions were ,of course, so much more important than our elders. Now having said that, I think we could agree that feeling “all knowing” when you are young is just a normal part of growing as a human.
What really bothers me about the next generation that follows mine is that they are being bombarded by the internet , as well as my generation, as to how pampered, babied, or spoiled they are. Now don’t get me wrong I suffered the same comments when I was young by the generation before mine, but the internet and news seem obsessed with the Millennial generation.
Let me remind anyone reading this that EVERY generation of humans has had a burden to carry: divorce, wars, depressions, social change. And it is completely human to think that our generation was the most remarkable group of humans that ever lived. The Millenials will suffer from this selective memory as they grow older just as every generation before them has.
Now that I’ve covered the WHAT I’m going to tell you WHY!
My children are all of this generation, and as a proud parent I just can’t imagine criticizing an entire group of people from which my children belong. I admire what I have learned from this generation and I have learned a lot. The tech age arrived so quickly and as a mother I had to learn right along side my own kids in order to help them with school and their futures. The tech age surpasssed my knowledge quickly and by the time they were teenagers I was asking them for help learning about one new tech item or another.
This generation holds no fear when it comes to the truth and never ask one a question you don’t want to hear the answer to. My generation was more about hiding truths from our parents than confessing or explaining them. I admire their fearlessness as a group. They don’t fear trying new things, going new places, or starting their lives over and over in various cities and job markets. I never even imagined living anywhere but where I was born and you stayed at a job as long as possible!
Now don’t get me wrong there are some things about Millennials that concern me like tattoos for instance, I do believe the generation following the Millennials will have some comments to make in regards their obsession with body art. I’m also concerned the stress they endure will have on their minds and bodies as the societal burdens they carry will become very heavy, national debt, retirement, parenting, politics, the list is long.
What I pray is that the Millennial generation will come out the other side with some of these current problems solved so they can grow old and complain about the generation that follows.
It was fear that drove me to believe that others might want to buy my crosses, it was fear that drove me to learn how to use my Apple iPad, it was fear that drove me to learn social media, and yes it was fear that drove me to open Ecommerce shops to try to sell my crosses.
You see, the fear of not learning something that so many others were able to accomplish was greater than my fear of failure. You’ve probably heard the saying, “better to have tried and failed, than to not try at all”. I believe those words and they make sense to me.
The problem is that as we get older we become ever so stubborn and set in our ways. We don’t like to admit our stubbornness out loud or even silently in our minds. What if you had someone say? “I want to help you get this figured out, finished, achieved, or comfortable working on this.”
Not in the real world right? Apple retail stores have such a “someone”. All you have to set up an appointment for your project, learning need, classroom project, family reunion photography, or any idea in your head. You can set a time and the place will be at the Apple retail store.
Which brings me to the second problem when we get older, we hate to ask for help. This is easy too, don’t ask, just go to an Apple store, or make a reservation online , and tell them you would like to spend Today at Apple to (fill in the blank). Bring a friend for courage if needed, and let the fear leave your mind and accomplishment fill your smile.
Free and easy, two of my favorite words!
What is your definition of “HAPPY?
I remember when I was a little girl and how I loved looking forward to a holiday. My younger brother and I celebrated them together in every wish, dream, and moment. It was our time then. We would excite ourselves with the idea of Easter morning chocolate bunnies and spring toys. Christmastime we spent hours thumbing through store catalogs marking the pages of everything we wanted by bending the page or using a permanent black magic marker to circle the desires that year. We would Trick or Treat on Halloween and come home to sort and group our candy in neat little piles before counting them and gorging ourselves. I would always run out of chocolate candy first as I had an enormous sweet tooth and my brother would pretend not to notice that I ate his when mine was gone.
These holidays were my childhood and were some of my best holiday moments. No one realizes that until those moments are long gone. As an adult I was given the gift of having children to celebrate these moments with and I loved every second of every holiday. Even as I celebrated these moments I knew that they would stop some day and my job would warp into the final stage of observer. My participation would be more “watching” than “doing”.
At first the role seemed strange to me but I have learned by watching my children being the “doers” in holiday celebrations just how lucky I really am. I love reliving in my mind how my younger brother and I celebrated together and the only sad part is that he is not here to share our memories together. I watch my children build their own lives and I know how lucky I am to have raised them and had those moments. I still love holidays and the family time that they bring but I have learned that it’s ok to sit them out and let them be celebrated by the here and now. I enjoy watching others live what I have learned. I hope that my children will see someday how wonderful their lives have been as I do now.
I saw this post on Pinterest and it caught my eye immediately. I thought what a great idea. I’m not saying I would post this sign at a funeral but I do like the idea of talking about what NOT to say. If you are attending a funeral for someone you loved, cared deeply for, or respected, then this set of guidelines is a very good start.
Hugs– now not everyone is a hugger. I am but I agree big squeezes are uncomfortable on many levels.
Bigger Plans and Better Place– I agree it’s better to not assume that you understand the grieving families belief in bigger plans and better places. Please, never assume that everyone shares your beliefs in the ever after because they don’t.
At Least– any sentence that starts with these wordsis not comforting to those grieving. Some examples I’ve heard:
At least he didn’t suffer
At least he didn’t know it was going to go that way
At least you have other children
At least your young you can remarry
At least he made sure you were taken care of
I could go on and on with the “at least”
The fact is, any sentence that begins with those two words is not helpful. It sounds like some sort of consolation prize.
Then what does one say to a grieving family member at a funeral?
If you aren’t comfortable with hugging try these words;
I’m so sorry for your loss
I’m here if you need me
I’m going to miss ———–
A fond memory is great ……….but not in a family reception line.
Laughter is great too …………but more appropriate at a reception following a service.
Reaching for their hand and giving a warm smile to let them know you have been thinking of them is always welcome.
The most important thing to remember is you should be there to comfort them not make the day uncomfortable.
I wish I could write a blog post on “How Not To Get Distracted” but that is NEVER going to happen. As a human I have found that distractions in our lives can be bad…..but they can be good too. A neighbor posted on our neighborhood Facebook page that she wanted to apologize for almost running into someone with her car at the intersection. The neighbor went on to explain that her mother was in the hospital and she was running on empty and not as focused as she should be.
When I read this I immediately understood how she felt as I’m sure many people would understand how she felt.
I can remember when I was raising a family there were many times I was thankful to go to work because it was a distraction for something that was going on at home; an argument with my husband, a problem that I knew I couldn’t solve, or a child that had run me ragged in arguments. Work was actually a good distraction!
Now I have had my fair share of bad distractions; certain Apple apps I’ve downloaded, books I can’t put down, any game, and of course TV programs that I won’t list here. I only consider these bad distractions because they seem so self indulgent and mothers by nature don’t partake in a lot of self indulgent activities, at least not without some guilt involved.
My life has been one ongoing distraction and I am grateful.