2020 - October - Gazette - Healing Through the Holidays

By: Dar Bellissimo
Friday, November 13, 2020

Healing Through the Holidays

Who knew the Pope tweeted? Apparently I haven’t been in the know. With so much darkness in the news these days, I was happy when I recently came across Maria Shriver's Sunday Paper, “A modern digital newspaper to inspire your heart and mind.” I subscribed, and when the October 18 edition arrived in my inbox, I read Maria’s article in which she shared this papal quote, “Tenderness is the path of choice for the strongest, most courageous men and women.”

After doing a little research, I learned that this quote came from the Pope’s October 13 tweet. The full tweet was:

“Tenderness is love that draws near and becomes real. A movement that starts from our heart and reaches the eyes, the ears and the hands. Tenderness is the path of choice for the strongest, most courageous men and women. #FratelliTutti” @Pontifex 13 October 2020

Tenderness. What a great word. According to the Oxford Dictionaries, tenderness means gentleness and kindness, or feelings of deep affection and devotion. The Pope describes it as love that “becomes real.” He tells us that it starts in our hearts before moving to the rest of our bodies. The Pope says it’s the path the strong and courageous take.

I’ve met many of these strong and courageous people. People who lost loved ones, answered grief’s question, “What really matters?” and lived from that place. It takes strength and courage to do so. It also takes attending to that movement of love that begins in their hearts, hearts that sometimes feel broken or even shattered.

With a broken heart, it can be hard to know what to do. Some grief “experts” suggest that mourners have needs and tasks to help them on their journeys. (Everyone is the expert in their own grief.) Psychologist and researcher William Worden is one such expert who created the four tasks of mourning in his book, Grief Counseling and Grief Therapy:

  1. To accept the reality of the loss.
  2. To work through the pain of grief.
  3. To adjust to an environment in which the deceased is missing.
  4. To find an enduring connection with the deceased while embarking on a new life.

In our upcoming Healing through the Holidays series, we will be looking at each of these tasks and discussing ways to address them while also navigating the holidays. Healing through the Holidays is a lot about balance – balancing remembering our loved ones with engaging in life, balancing honoring old traditions with making new ones.

It takes strength and courage to “walk through the door” to attend this virtual series. Meghan McGraw, NCC, CRC, RN, HNB-BC, and I recognize that and will make it a safe place for participants to speak from the love and grief in their hearts. It’s been my experience that over the five weeks of the program, parts of that love and grief move to tenderness.  

If you or someone you know is missing a loved one this holiday season, please consider joining us at Healing through the Holidays on Mondays, November 16, November 23, November 30, December 7 and December 14 from 6:00 to 7:30 p.m.

Other tenderness supported gatherings include:

For more information, please visit the Bereavement Gatherings and Events page on the Koch Funeral Home website. To reserve your spot and receive the invitation links, email Jackie@JackieHook.com, call 814-404-0546 or visit the Koch Funeral Home Facebook page, @kochFH.

And if you are interested in finding tenderness during your own virtual or in-person gatherings this holiday season, check out the Have the Talk of a Lifetime resources on the Koch website. These resources will help you and your loved ones share meaningful and unique life stories with one another.

This holiday season, why not do as Donkey in Shrek implores, “… you gotta, gotta try a little tenderness?”

Jackie Naginey Hook, MA, is a spiritual director, celebrant and end-of-life doula.  She coordinates the Helping Grieving Hearts Heal program through Koch Funeral Home in State College.  For more information, please call 814-237-2712 or visit www.kochfuneralhome.com.

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