Holiday Traditions to Remember Loved Ones

After someone you love has passed away, Christmas, Hanukkah and other holidays and birthdays will never be the same. In recent years my family has had to adapt to celebrating Christmas without my sister, my Dad, my uncle, my father-in-law and this year we lost my Nana. There have been years when it was just so sad that I couldn’t wait for Christmas to be over.

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My sister and I, Christmas 1995.

Remembrance traditions won’t change how much you miss your loved one, or prevent the pain, sadness, regret, anger and other emotions and feelings that may arise. However, I have found that, for me, acknowledging my emotions through intentional actions helps me feel more connected with those I have lost. Sometimes I am surprised by the good feelings that arise alongside the tougher emotions. And at other times doing something in their honour gives me a safe space and time for the tears to come. I have found that allowing the grief, rather than avoiding it, has been the best way for me to begin to heal.

When you are ready, here are some ideas for incorporating acts of remembrance into your holiday traditions.

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Honouring our Losses on Mother’s Day

Mother’s Day can be a difficult day.

The reasons are many. Our mom has passed away. We have lost a child or a baby. Perhaps we are estranged from our Mom, or never knew our birth mother. Or, like me, your Mom may have reached a stage in their dementia where they do not know you, cannot have a conversation, or show no resemblance to their former selves.

We may wish things could have been different. We may long for our lost mother or child. We may miss them desperately.

If our relationship with our mother was troubled, we may be revisiting anger, disappointment or wishing we had someone who was the kind of mother we needed and wanted. Continue reading

Grow Self-Love: A Mindful Planting Ritual

“To love oneself is the beginning of a lifelong romance.” — Oscar Wilde

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If you’re like me, that life-long romance is only just getting started. Although I have met a few people who appear to accept and love themselves, I would guess that most people—deep down, usually unconsciously—believe that they aren’t good enough, that they’re unlovable, or that they are fundamentally flawed or broken.

It’s pretty easy to criticize ourselves, to find fault with ourselves—and hey—if we aren’t conscious enough to do it openly, we sometimes project it by criticizing and finding fault with others! I have been an “expert” at both of those unhealthy strategies and have spent most of my life seeking the love and approval of others, because I didn’t believe that I was intrinsically worthy and lovable. It is only recently, through some powerful NLP coaching that I have had the tools to help change those beliefs, begun to practice radical self-care and am able to start seeing more clearly the light I shine in this world. Continue reading

Love Letters Are Not Just For Couples

This week my Nana turns 95, and as we live a great distance apart, I’m unable to be there for her birthday. So, I wrote her a love letter and popped it in the mail for my uncle to deliver on her special day.

What do I mean by “love letter?” A letter (or video message, song, or poem) to someone you care about, expressing what you love about them, your gratitude for what they bring to your life, and the impact they have had on you. So often these words of the heart are only shared when someone is dying, or at funerals and memorials. Why not share them now?

The “rite” way to turn around a bad day

Let’s say that it’s been that kind of day. Where you lose your keys, and in hunting for them, come across unfinished projects, forgotten messes, and a bill that someone forgot to pay. Your coffee spills, you get stuck in traffic and maybe, just maybe, you now have a headache. It’s the kind of day when everything’s wrong.

What can you do to turn your day around? You may choose the oft-touted healthy strategies of exercise, meditation and relaxation. Or, let’s face it, when we’re having a bad day most of us resort to indulging, distracting, or medicating.

I’d like to offer you another option that you probably haven’t considered: a rite or ritual based on something you already need to do. What makes it a “rite” or “ritual,” is that it is done with purpose and intention.

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