Chanukah (Dec. 24-Dec. 31) is a holiday rich in Jewish history and traditions. Some refer to it as the Festival of Lights due to the lighting of Menorahs and the miracle relating to the oil. In the time of the Holy Temple, one jar of oil lasted eight days. This is also the reason for why the holiday lasts eight days.
This year, while I enjoy celebrating with family and friends and eating the symbolic foods of the holiday, including potato latkes (pancakes) and sufganiyot (fried donuts), I will remember a patient of mine who was a Holocaust survivor.
Several years ago, as part of a corporate walking challenge for hospital employees, I invited a Buddhist monk, Bhante Sujatha, to lead a group in a meditation walk at a beautiful nature preserve labyrinth. The labyrinth is circular in shape with winding paths that draw you back and forth until eventually you reach the center. It is said that the back and forth motion engage both sides of the brain and create a sense of calm, somewhat like rocking a child in a cradle or gliding through space on a swing. Because so many of us were making our way through and we all began at the same time, we regularly needed to move aside, as people passed us on the way back from the center.
A little girl giggles with uncontrollable excitement at seeing Santa walk down the stairs...
A pre-teen boy anxiously awaits as the announcer calls the next Bingo card selection...
And, a toddler smiles as she clutches her newly acquired baby doll...
What do all of these things have in common? The annual JourneyCare All About Kids Program Holiday Party! With the theme of “Walking in a Winter Wonderland,” nearly 200 children and their families from our All About Kids palliative care and hospice program were recently treated to food, fun, presents, and a special visit from Santa at the Stonegate Banquet and Conference Centre in Hoffman Estates.
While the death of a loved one is one of life’s most difficult times, the holidays can compound our sense of loss and isolation. When we're experiencing the pain of grief, the last thing we want to do is participate in any kind of holiday celebration. We want the pain to end, and we can’t imagine being around others at a time that is supposed to be full of joy when we are so burdened with sorrow.
This is a normal way to feel, but since we can’t cut out the calendar from late October through early Januaryof the next year, it might be helpful to modify our plans, and most especially to take good care of ourselves.
Consider the following suggestions: