Another year winds down as many prepare to celebrate the holidays of their choice. What a year it has been. As I look back I see many losses in our village, country and world. It often seemed that getting news of a death was becoming a weekly event. I do not think I shall ever erase from my mind and heart the now famous photograph of the tiny child survivor sitting in an ambulance terrified and alone after a local bombing. Our country and our world have been through so much. In so many ways, we are a world in grief.
With the media focus on this year’s painful and sad events, it is easy to forget the good in our world and in our lives. Yes, we need to know about all the evil, the destruction, the deaths and losses, but we must be careful to balance our awareness and exposure with the fact that there is also an incredible amount of goodness, beauty, love, generosity, kindness, joy and more. We cannot allow ourselves to get totally overwhelmed over the long haul by the tragedy in our lives and world.
I believe deeply in being aware of losses, in deeply owning our own pain and grief. We must do that or these will destroy us, buried alive as they will become. I also believe we must do all we can to heal our lives and our planet as we simultaneously seek out and steep ourselves in true joy, beauty, kindness and love. It is all about balance. If we find ourselves constantly drowning in loss, pain, destruction and fear, the energy and motivation we so desperately need to bring healing to our lives and planet will become lost and suffocated — drowning in our own tears. We can and must experience pain. It is our growing edge. It motivates us to improve our lives and it is unavoidable. We need to see it, feel it, acknowledge it, but we just cannot allow it to take total control of our lives, our energy, our motivation or our attitudes.
This is a month of looking back, of being present to both joy and pain, and of looking forward with hope and commitment to what matters in your lives. It is a month in many traditions to prepare for the birth of joy by looking quietly inside to our own souls, lives and choices.
I wish you the courage it takes to deal with and feel your own and others’ pain as you also seek out, create and steep yourselves in deep joy.
Mary Friedel-Hunt MA LCSW is a psychotherapist, thanotologist and certified bereavement counselor. Mary sees clients in Spring Green and can be reached at email@example.com; P.O. Box 1036, Spring Green, WI 53588; or