I’ve offered many tips for holiday survival through the years, but when it came time to compile them for this post, I was overwhelmed. What good are “Fifty Ways to Take Care of Yourself During the Holidays” when I can barely manage to dress myself in the morning? (Remind me to tell you about the day a few weeks after my mother died, when I managed to put on a blouse, but failed to actually button it up until I was walking across the parking lot into my office.)”
— My friend the grief counselor Stephanie Rogers at her blog, “Embracing Your Grief: Mindfully Experiencing the Worst Time of your Life”)
Just like the rest of us, even grief counselors experience grief.
And nothing intensifies pain and grief like the year-end holidays.
My friend Stephanie Rogers–a terrific poet, author, blogger and speaker–is also a grief counselor and Thanatologist, who happens to be grieving the loss of her mother.
I worked in hospice with Stephanie for two full years in a multi-county area of Northeast Texas, I as a chaplain and she as the volunteer coordinator. We became great friends and soul mates.
During a gruelingly painful time in my life–a time in which I was grief-stricken and angry at a certain person and pretty much the world for a while–I made a long-distance call to Stephanie one night and spilled my guts out to her. I called on her because, being a grief counselor as well as a great friend, she’s one of the best listeners in the world.
She didn’t tell me I need to calm down; she didn’t tell me to do this or advise me to do that. She just heard me out, allowed me to vent through some tears, to get the heavy weight that was pressing on my chest off of my chest.
That’s what great listeners do–they just hear you out, without judgment, without trying to fix you, without trying to prod you out of your grief and anger or whatever your ghastly stew of emotions might be.
When you’re walking through one of life’s dark valleys, a great listener is there to quietly walk with you and bear the weight of the cross you’re bearing. (“A grief shared,” goes a German proverb, “is a grief halved.”)
I’ll never forget how relieved I felt after that call to Stephanie and will always be grateful to her–and grateful to a couple of other great listener-friends, who happen to be fellow clergy, who were there to listen to me when I really need somebody to listen to me.
Check out Steph’s post about her first Thanksgiving without her mom at her fine and very fine new blog site.