I was on a marketing webinar today expecting more of the same.
Ideas for engagement or new ways to sell. I stopped my multi-tasking when the presenter said, “You can start a movement. All you need is to give people actions to take.”
This year has been a mess for so many. I want you to remember mess is part of the process.
Healing comes when we say yes, this is a mess, and still, I want to help.
If you’re in the thick of loss, or the confusion of what small next step to take, simply surviving is enough. Food, shower, maybe a brush through your hair – that is enough.
If you’re on the road and your load is lighter, I’m giving you some actions to take.
This year, I’m morphing previous year’s concept of the Give Light Giveaway.
Choose an action to create good and spark light at the end of the dark year.
Send me proof of your donation, or pictures of your random acts of kindness. I’ll share the results here throughout the month. Contributors will be entered to win a prize pack and I’ll send a few of my favorite things to one random winner.
Send me a note about what’s bringing light and love to your circle of influence and I’ll share here and on social media.
It’s easy to feel like we are alone right now and separated from those we love and even our neighbors. As I learned while my husband rewatched Star Wars Episode 9 this week, “They win by making you think you’re alone.”
There have been so many Dark Sides this year. Don’t let them win. We aren’t alone. I’m here. I see you. What action will you take?
I walked in the door to grief group tonight with my arms full of bags – the worn canvas stretched as I turned to open my arms and hug the once-strangers who I now consider my friends. I bent at the waist and removed my clogs and turned and slid my mismatched socks towards the table.
Twelve courageous women laid out crackers and creamy cheese and plates of cookies to frost with store-bought frosting. We swiped crumbs off of islands and sprinkled flour on the clean counter. Relying on our resourcefulness we used a pepper grinder to roll out the dough. We cut shapes and dunked morsels in chocolate and shook green, red, and white sprinkles over pre-made cut-outs. We sat around a table and said their names and shared the multitude of complex things we feel during the holiday season.
And I stopped and thought, “Yes, this is good.”
Good enough for this year.
And earlier this week, while taking my turn at a four-way stop I apparently cut off a car coming round the blind corner. The horn shook me out of a something-thought and I proceeded to find a parking spot. I walked gingerly to the favorite kitchen store in town and met Mom to wander through familiar aisles.
Looking up from the shortbread display I grabbed my mom and I hissed, “Pause here.”
Around another blind corner, old acquaintances stood eyeing their own gifts and goodies. We pivoted, avoiding the unnecessary moment of awkward eye contact. Running into “before people” in stores on holidays earns you a pity tilt of the head and a sympathy sigh. If they are really unsure, you may get a pat on the hand as well. We turned towards the tea pots and moved through aisles to make our purchases on the other side of the store.
We had planned to spend hours together shopping, just like we used to, and instead we spent three hours talking at a new taco shop in town. At a small table in the back, next to the kitchen, we wept and we wondered how we can let go of the old and create something new.
New traditions. New expectations. New hopes and new chances to shape togetherness because the old holiday traditions will never be the same.
And as we paid the bill and walked into the winter sun, I stopped and thought, “Yes. This is good.”
Good enough for this year.
As I held my mom’s hand and looked her in the eye she said to me, “You know, we never started baking gingerbread snowflakes with the intent of that being tradition. We tried them. They were good, so we did it again.”
I’m borrowing loosely from holiday expectations this year. Different formats for making cookies. Different time spent shopping on Amazon rather than in stores. Different routines and expressions of grief and making space for the sadness our culture demands we package away in pretty red bows. Maybe we’ll do them again. Maybe we won’t.
I spent year one through three trying, pushing, forcing the holly and the jolly and it was horrible.
This year I’m stopping and thinking, “Yes, this is good.”
I’m inviting you to stop and think about just one thing that changed your life for the better this year. When I sit and ponder here’s one that comes to mind for me.
In September, I boarded a plane after a nine hour delay to join 100 young grieving adults. I had the opportunity to lead a writing workshop with The Dinner Party, a national organization who builds community for 20 and 30 somethings and mostly, I was terrified.
I was absolutely floored by the beautiful, brave people who showed up despite terrible things happening in their young adult lives. People read obituaries, shared funny stories, and built altars in honor of loved ones. We drank wine and toasted and sang songs and I found myself, for the first time, in a group of twenty five others who lost their dads.
When I shared my experiences, I was met with affirming mhmms and head nods rather than blank stares. While I have been attending a grief support table for two years now, this was the first experience I had where I felt completely welcome in my grief. I’ve known in my head I wasn’t alone. These people helped me feel less alone in my heart. You can read more about my experience here.
If you jumped ahead, pick up here:
Welcome back. This year I’m increasing my fundraising goal for The Dinner Party and am hoping to help raise $1,000 as TDP continues to grow. From April to September the organization placed over 2,500 people at tables all across the country and they need your help.
With an ambitious goal of being as well known as AA for alcoholics, we hope to grow this phenomenon as a fabulous grief support option for young people all across the country and need your help.
Give because you loved Roy
Give because there are thousands of young people are grappling with life after loss
Give because you love me
Give because you are craving a space to tell your story
Give because there is power in community
Give because connection makes a difference
I hope you’ll join me this year – thanks for reading – and if you know of other wonderful people who would be willing to donate, please pass along my note.
With so much love,
My feet stand confidently on this wooden box, supporting me as I take a deep breath.
Here it is folks.
My apple cart / soap box rant.
It’s Father’s Day. My third one with out him. The first year this loss was fresh, fresh, fresh. Teeth had sunk in and crunched away a giant part of me. I texted my friend who had lost her dad three years prior and I asked, “Um. What the hell am I supposed to do on this day?”
She responded, ” My first year I stayed off social media, got in bed and waited for it to pass.”
She granted me permission to do just that.
Last year we spent the day putting new mulch in our front yard. Ate pizza with my father-in-law and I’m sure I cried privately. I still stayed off social media.
This year, I’ve been working very hard on finding a community of people who understand and can relate to these swimming feelings of loss. I’ve whispered prayers for friends who can walk through this with me.
To my surprise, I found a lot of support on the internet.
I signed up for a Father’s Day gift exchange through Modern Loss. I write on the private group boards and think of the ol’ AOL chat room days. I ponder how these strangers behind their computer screens bravely share their pain and frustration and joy.
I submitted my answers to Father’s Day questions posed by The Dinner Party – a grief group specific for 20-30 somethings who have lost important people in their lives. They were going to pick 24 stories to highlight – one each hour today – and were overwhelmed when over 150 people responded to their prompts. I received the email with this round-up of powerful pieces at work. I scrolled through this list and tears filled my eyes while a sense community filled my heart. They included every single submission.
Unfortunately …. beautifully … I am not alone.
I get it now. I’m in the Dead Dads Club. A lifetime membership to the suckiest group.
New members join every day.
I think of the line they start every Al-Anon Meeting with – We’re sorry for what brought you here, but we’re glad you’ve found your way.
This year, I believe in the power of my story and I’m using my voice. I’m scrolling on Facebook and won’t be staying in bed. I’m putting up pictures and writing poems and high-fiving with those who get it.
If you need to stay in bed and sip white wine that’s fine too.
Because there are SO many people who get it.
These people not be my intimate friends, but they, my fellow members, have brought me support and nodded “uh-huh” and wiped away tears from across the country. All on the internet.
I see Dad today – in the places he’s missing – but also in the places where we are living.
Cheers to the dads throwing ball, changing diapers, grilling steaks today. The ones who throw their kids in the air, teach tots to ride trikes, those working to pay the bills and put bread on the table. Cheers to the dads who are hurting. Those struggling with depression, or unemployment, or grief of their own. Cheers to the men who have no blood relation. Those who care deeply about the development of others. The ones who are bosses. The ones who are putting others before themselves. Cheers to the dads who are expecting. Those watching their wives bellies grow. The dads who are dreaming.