December 2006, two months after my brother passed away, I attended a ‘getting through the holidays without your loved one’ seminar at the local hospice. There were about 20 people there--teenagers and older folks, men and women. Little did I know at that time (because I was still in a complete fog), it was going to be so helpful each holiday season thereafter. The two women speaking from hospice were extremely knowledgeable and kind. They talked about how the grieving process is a roller coaster; we made memory keepsakes of our loved ones; we shared our stories if we wanted; and one really wonderful thing they did was give us a little gold jingle bell on a ribbon. It was to signify how much ‘jingle’ --happiness for the season-- we wanted to allow ourselves to have. If we wanted to be a part of the joyfulness of the season, then we can hold it in our hand and jingle it for as long as we wanted. If we’re not feeling in the mood for the holidays, then maybe just one shake of the bell would do. No matter how we felt about the holiday season, we were told that it was okay if we didn’t want a lot of ‘jingle’ this time of year.
It was such a simple gift yet so effective. I have kept that little bell on a stand in my foyer ever since. I look at it every day and remind myself that--even though the holiday season is over-- I am the one who has control over whether or not I want ‘jingle’ as I go about my day and it’s okay to want a lot or none at all.
I encourage those who have lost a loved one to contact your local hospice. They are not only incredible caregivers, they have programs and counseling on bereavement. Click here to find the local hospice near you.