Rituals & Spirituality

(Seasonal) Grieving and Grateful in November

thanksgiving cornThe November Dilemma

November has always seemed to me to be like a crossroad month. It is both fall and winter in its weather. But essentially November for most of us means a time for thanks as we gear up for the upcoming holidays and a time for grieving as we officially let go of Autumn’s beauty and move into the more stark landscape.

November begins on the first with an acknowledgment of a religious holiday, All Souls Day, or as the nuns used to say, the cleansing of that horrible day prior, Halloween. But what is it about November that leaves us lingering, in the beginning of the month, lost and fragile? What is it about November that leaves us feeling delicate and brittle? How can we make sense in this preparation month, of our crazy, busy “to do” lists? But more importantly, why can’t we enjoy it for what it is; a kind, gentle introduction to the mayhem to come. [Read More…]

10 Coping Tips For Grieving Parents

COPEEach of us grieves the loss of a child, or any other significant loss, in our own way. And each of us has our own way of coping with our grief. Some bereaved parents may benefit from seeing a therapist, attending a support group, talking to friends or being with family. Still others may simply need time alone to come to grips with their emotions. There really is no right or wrong way to grieve.

The following is a list of suggestions that may help grieving parents in their journey. But remember, everyone’s journey is unique. And each part of the journey can be different. So even if something doesn’t work for you now, it may help you during another leg of your journey.

Give yourself permission

As you travel your grief journey, you will encounter many things that you did not expect to encounter since your world was turned upside down. Give yourself permission to experience the feelings, emotions and thoughts that emerge as you figure out how to live with and in spite of your loss. [Read More…]

Autumn Musings

leafIn Love With Death

Fifteen years ago, I was talking to a woman at a party who told me she absolutely hated the Fall season.  No bones about it – she loathed it and would never feel any different, no matter how many picture perfect postcards you could wave of New England’s vibrant color change.

To this day, this mystifies me. My favorite month of the year is October.  I am invigorated from October 1st till well after the Christmas holidays.  The month of October rejuvenates my spirit and I believe that the air I breathe in during that month sustains me for the rest of the year.

This same woman told me that the only thing she felt during the fall was the impending notion of winter.  It was as if on exactly September 21st, her bones began to brace themselves for all things cold.  At the time she had two small children and I asked her if the kids liked jumping in piles of leaves, apple picking, or of course, the thrill of Halloween.  She told me that she didn’t do leaf piles(there might be ticks) and yes she did Halloween but it was generally in a safe place like the mall.  [Read More…]

The Long Wave Goodbye

Dear Reader: Each year, I repost this essay, written when my children were young. However, it remains true to me; the original wave is etched in my heart and mind forever.  school bus

Today, I waved to my daughter riding away on the bus. The silly kind of wave – two arms, as if jumping for dear-life and flagging down a passing ship.  We both continued waving until the bus was out of sight.  Walking back to my house, I had a lump in my throat. I am both happy and sad.

I’m sad for the time which is passing so quickly; sad, too, that I see that my parenting must be working well – my own daughter still longs for me.  (I did not have that with my own mother.) I waited a long time to become a mother (again). I will continue to try my hardest to fulfill her need until her hands stop reaching for mine, the arm waves stop, and I see her waving to her friends – not me. That time is coming. In fact, it’s just around the corner.

Writer Kelly Salasin blogged, “There are so many deaths in mothering, beginning at the beginning, and arriving every day after. But equally matched with these deaths are the blessings of a new life – new growth – new possibility.” These words resonate with me and touch my heart. [Read More…]

How My Dad Taught Me to be a Dad

Nicholas D'Ambra's dad IVI’m not an expert at being a Dad, but I learned a lot from my own father, who happened to be the best. He wasn’t perfect. He definitely made mistakes. However, he made those mistakes seem like integral threads in the blanket of parenting.

He always put his family first. Like his father before him, my Dad worked hellishly long hours to provide for his family. I couldn’t list five things he ever purchased for himself. He would often go without, so his kids could go with.

He always made time for his children. At the end of a 14-hour day, he would help coach my Little League team. I would wait for him to come home in summertime at the top of our block, sitting on a wall. He smiled whenever he saw me there. I would get into the car and drive the short distance home where he would grab something to eat on our way to practice. [Read More…]

Taking Back Mother’s Day

Ode to Mom

I am the youngest of eight children. I was born in 1963, a bygone era of large families and stay-at-home moms.  My mother had eight children within 13 years with a few miscarriages thrown in for good pregnancy measure.

We are Irish Catholics with no sense of rhythm and therefore yearly pregnancies were the norm.

While I remember us celebrating Mother’s Day as adult children, I have no recollection of what that day looked like for her when we were all young.  I know that Mothers Day existed, because Woodrow Wilson signed the proclamation in 1914 declaring it a day of honor for mothers. [Read More…]

Is Mother’s Day Just Another (Obligatory) Hallmark Holiday?

Nicholas' mom II remember reading somewhere that a stay-at-home mom’s salary hangs somewhere around $112,000 a year. This includes overtime, which… lets’ face it…it should. The hourly average comes out at .25 below $18 per hour. Where we live, we pay a good sitter $15 per hour, so that hourly rate is, if anything, low (insert wide-eye emoticon here).

The two things we do not value enough in this country are stay-at-home parents (I’m including Dads here, because times have changed, people!) and teachers. It’s ironic, really, because as Americans, we want to be the best in all things and we value family so very much.

And if we value family so much, then why are moms… and dads who stay at home so under-valued/under-appreciated? [Read More…]

By |May 2nd, 2015|Categories: Commentary, Daily Living, Gay Fathers, Rituals & Spirituality|Tags: , |0 Comments

The Power of One – A Gift to Yourself

Valentine's Day - Huff PostTwo year’s ago, in my Huffington Post Valentine’s Day essay, “The Power of One,” I wrote about how important Valentine’s Day is and how I start thinking about the upcoming holiday soon after the last holiday ends!  I explained how I spend several months formulating who I’ll send cards to and who I’ll call/see/meet simply to say “I love you” and express my thanks and gratitude for being in my life.

How, in the weeks leading up to it, I’ll buy V-Day boxer shorts (once cotton, now solid silk) for my now fully-grown stepchildren (and their partners); the largest Reese’s chocolate heart I can find and heart pajamas for my husband; a heart necklace and/or bracelet for my young daughter and the proverbial stuffed animal with heart for my rapidly growing elementary school son (who, at this point, is finding this very unsettling). [Read More…]

By |February 13th, 2015|Categories: Commentary, Daily Living, Rituals & Spirituality|Tags: , |0 Comments

Valentine’s Day: The Power of One Helps Make a Whole

It’s hard to explain my (utter) fascination with Valentine’s Day. On the therapist’s couch, this near-obsession has been explained away as a move to fill an unfilled heart, a response to a loveless childhood and a push to find my own heart — all true, but not a fully convincing argument for those accustomed to my ongoing madness.

Each year, I ruminate about the next holiday… well… after the holiday ends. Like my young daughter’s obsession with her next birthday, I begin formulating how I’ll spend the day, who I’ll send cards to and who I’ll call/see/meet to say “I love you” and express my thanks.

In the weeks leading up to it, I’ll buy V-Day boxer shorts (once cotton, now solid silk) for my now fully-grown stepchildren; the largest Reese’s chocolate heart I can find and heart pajamas for my husband; a heart necklace and/or bracelet for my young daughter and the proverbial stuffed animal with heart for my rapidly growing elementary school son (who, at this point, is finding this a bit unsettling). [Read More…]

By |February 12th, 2015|Categories: Commentary, Daily Living, Rituals & Spirituality|Tags: , |0 Comments

The Heart’s Memory Lives On

Lori Pelikan's V-Day card IOn my kitchen counter there sits a small basket. In the basket, there is a small, folded-up piece of notebook paper. I have kept this note for 36 years. It is yellowed and slightly torn at the corners, but I haven’t been able to throw it out. It has a very special Valentine’s Day message to me.

I remember the grade school days of giving Valentine’s Day cards to all of my classmates. My mother would drive me to the store and I would painstakingly pick out the perfect box of Valentine’s Day cards for my friends. After handing them out in class, I can clearly see myself breathlessly waiting to open the cards from my friends, especially the boys. Somehow my girlfriends and I could always figure out which boy liked us. [Read More…]

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