When Christmas Isn’t Merry

Connie Michaelis, Lifestyle Consultant for The Piper Assisted Living and Memory Support

This holiday season, which includes multiple celebrations, is full of elevated emotions.  We often overlook the possibility that those feelings might be negative.  In contrast to the excitement of family gatherings and children playing with new toys, are the painful memories of those that are not here this year. The longer we are privileged to grow old, the fewer family and friends are still with us.  How many elders tell us that they’re the only one of the siblings that is left?  It is a common grievance of aging Seniors.  On one hand, they are blessed to grow old, but it clearly leaves them with a smaller circle of peers and family members of origin.  It is especially poignant when those deaths happen during the holiday season.   As you read obituaries this time of year, do you think how difficult the following holiday season will be?

We need to be sensitive to this conundrum. Perhaps our Merry Christmas greetings could be more sympathetic?  The most important message of the season is the communication of love and hope.  Being a good listener and being conscious of the fact that painful memories can surface during the holidays put us a long way down the path to showing love and compassion. It is so important with our Elders to consider not only their long life, but acknowledge the losses they have endured along the way.  Sharing those memories as well is often the kindest way to celebrate the true meaning of this season. Christmas is a time to slow down, to listen and to share all the sacred memories of the past. Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukah and a beautiful New Year from everyone at The Piper!