Memorial Day marks the beginning of summer for a lot of people, and they’re excited if they get a 3-day weekend to celebrate. That’s fun, and I used to have a boat so I know. But the day means more to the millions who want to honor, not only the soldiers we’ve lost, but someone dear in their own lives. Adjustment to major loss is hard, but this is for sure: There are no rules. There is no one way to react, no one way to behave. It’s a very personal journey that well meaning friends and family cannot dictate nor judge. Only you know.
If Memorial Day brings anguish for you, here’s a couple of ideas to try that might make it easier. Set a time limit ahead of time. “I will spend 30 minutes tomorrow remembering.” The trick is to decide ahead of time so it’ll be easier to switch emotional gears when the time comes. (Brains believe what we tell them!)
Here’s something else for you to do ahead of time. Humor can play a big part in grief recovery, so it has its own chapter in my book, Emerging from the Heartache of Loss. Decide ahead of time to focus for a day, or even an hour, on the good times you had together and their wonderfulness instead of how much you miss them. Smiles lead to chuckles which might lead to laughing out loud, and laughing through tears eventually cancels them out.
It might seem weird matching up the words “hospice” and “humor,” but some hospitals embrace the mood-elevating effects of laughter. Volunteers from the Hospice Smile Team in Southern Florida stuff jokes and riddles into real prescription bottles before handing them out. The labels read “Laughter is the best medicine — take as needed.” This humor therapy goes a step further, providing Comedy Carts and Clown Rounds to hospital patients. Here’s a quote to remember from a nurse involved in this program: “One of the greatest gifts we can share with others is a smile. As families work through a loss or prepare for a celebration of one’s life, it is important to share their funniest moments!” Leslie Gibson, RN, Suncoast Hospice