Finding comfort and joy during the holidays after losing a loved one can
be a challenge.
My dear mother Loretta, who provided so much love and support, left this earth on November 16, 2013. She was 94. Although she struggled her last years with advancing dementia, she still knew my name and always greeted me with a smile, even in her final days, for which I am eternally grateful.
My family and I are still trying to make sense of the loss and to find a place where recalling memories of Mom are comforting rather than debilitating. I've not found solace in the recent revelations in neuroscience nor in my own meditative practices. In time, I hope this will come.
The magic of stories
Instead, I've discovered the lyrical memoir by Nina Sankovitch who writes about the essential truths of words, stories and memories in Tolstoy and the Purple Chair: My Year of Magical Reading.
"Only now am I grasping the importance of looking backward. Of remembrance. My father finally wrote out his memories for a reason. I took on a year of reading books for a reason. Because words are witness to life; they record what has happened, and they make it all real. Words create the stories that become history and become unforgettable. Even fiction portrays truth: good fiction is truth. Stories about lives remembered bring us backward while allowing us to move forward. The only balm to sorrow is memory; the only salve for the pain of losing someone to death is acknowledging the life that existed."
And, I will add, to acknowledge the many lives lived well in the future, thanks to the lessons and support of a very special woman.
"The truth of living is proved not by the inevitability of death but by the wonder that we lived at all. Remembering lives from the past ratifies the truth, more and more so the older we get. When I was growing up, my father told me once, 'Do not look for happiness; life itself is happiness.' I took me years to understand what he meant. The value of a life lived; the sheer value of living. As I struggled with the sadness of my sister's death...I was not giving remembrance its due. It was time to turn myself around, and to look backward. By looking backward, I would be able to move forward."
Choosing to remember and rejoiceI choose to look backward, which is not my natural inclination. At Thanksgiving I recalled the incredible dinners my mother prepared, especially the remarkable nut rolls (called Potica in Slovenian) and the melt-in-your-mouth apple strudel that no one has yet to duplicate. This Christmas, I will tell stories about Loretta. I'll laugh and cry with family over the sheer joy my mom experienced opening presents and sharing her spirit with others.
Today, my heart is just a little lighter now that I've completed this newsletter. I had been dreading it, but now I realize the importance of words, of sharing our stories. And, in that way, of sharing my loving, exasperating, joyful, cranky, wonderful mother with the world. She would be pleased with her presence being shared, especially at holiday time. Miss you, Mom. Love you even more.
Happiest of holiday wishes to you. Treasure your family and make some lasting memories.
Mental Notes is Evolving
In the coming months, dear reader, you and I will
explore the psychology and neuroscience of branding, both personal and professional. As a result, Mental Notes
will continue to evolve and complement my role as a national brand consultant, speaker and coach. I welcome your comments and questions along the way. Buckle up
for an exhilarating ride!