Helping someone you love when they lose someone they love

During my life I have lost a number of people that I loved. I’m all out of grandparents, I tragically lost my sister, I’ve lost aunts and uncles and dear friends. And almost going on 2 years now, I lost my Mother.

It recently started to hit me that now that I’m over the age of 50, coupled with the multiple dealings I’ve had throughout my life with loss that I should be somewhat of an expert on what to do and say when someone in my life experiences a loss. My wife lost her one and only Aunt this week. Of course I am here for her, I am trying my best to comfort her, be her best friend and I believe I am doing all the right things to console her. But let me make this clear: I am still never quite sure what to do.

No one ever is. It is very heartbreaking to watch someone you love lose a loved one, and you are left feeling hopeless. What can you do, as one person, to ease their pain, to give them comfort through such a terrible time, what is the “Right” thing to do?

One thing I do know for sure is this: The WRONG thing to do is to do nothing at all.

When someone you love dies there is an incredible void that is left and the truth is that many acts of kindness get lost in the sadness of it all. I probably can’t tell you who sent me cards or flowers when my mother passed away, but I can tell you that each time I went to the mailbox there was love and kindness waiting for me and my family.

As my wife is dealing with this loss, I am sure she will not remember how some of the things that got done got done. But I am sure that things will get done by the people in her life that came to help her when she was going through this tough time.

I often say when cooking that the most important ingredient for making a meal taste great is “Love”.

Well, I promise you this: If you reach out with Love and Compassion you are doing the right thing. When someone you love suffers a loss, everything is “The right thing to do”

Call them, send them a card, bake them some cookies, help clean up. And continue to do these thing even after you think that they are “Ok”

People treat grieving people like babies and try to avoid questions and mentioning the awful thing that just happened. Sometimes people try to even avoid the grieving person altogether just in fear that they will say or do the wrong thing that will send that person into tears. The problem with that is so obvious and we all miss it – A grieving person needs to be allowed to be upset. They need to hear the name of their loved one and be allowed to do whatever they need to do with friends and family around them to support them.

As for me, I will do my part, as best as I know how to comfort my wife and family through this loss. Aunt Linda was 72 years old, she was a kind lady, had a great love for reading and animals. She loved her dog. I don’t know much about her life, but I am sure she did some amazing things. She always used to mail me newspaper clippings of sports articles that related to the Jets or the Mets, sometimes just to rub it in my face (being that she was a Yankee fan). She will be missed. Ilyssa has a small family by comparison to mine. Aunt Linda was her only Aunt. There is never solace in saying that you have other Aunts and Uncles of course, but losing the only one you have must be quite hard. I’ll always be here for you Ilyssa.

The Santa Myth

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We should never lie to our kids, lying to our kids is a bad thing. But for many children (including mine), believing in Santa is a normal and a healthy part of growing up.

The notion of a man who flies around the world in a sled drawn by flying reindeer,  entering our homes through our chimneys and delivering presents, all within the span of a single night, is highly improbable, to say the least. Yet the Santa Myth is a long-standing and powerful tradition for many families, and does indeed reinforce good values.

I don’t think it’s a bad thing for kids to believe in the myth of someone trying to make people happy if they’re behaving. Imagination is  normal and helps develop creative minds in my opinion.

The Santa myth is grounded in truth — after all, St. Nicholas is a real person. He became famous for giving gifts and money to the poor, and it’s those values that are important to continue teaching our children.  It’s a real story, it’s a real value and it’s something that inspires our children and us. That’s the spirit of Christmas…

Santa Claus is just one mythical figure many kids believe in, along with the Tooth Fairy, the Easter Bunny and others. Our kids use their imaginations all the time, even if they know the characters they are creating are not real. When kids play cops and robbers, they know they aren’t really cops or robbers.

Christmas brings families together, and the Santa myth reinforces these bonds. Christmas also reinforces some positive habits, like writing letters to Santa. Lots of kids don’t like to write, but they’ll make the effort to write these letters won’t they?

But like many good things, the Santa story eventually comes to an end. Kids stop believing in Santa at different ages. Usually, a friend at school will break the news. I still hold on as long as I could with my daughter, even though I know that she is beginning to question it now. The Elf on the shelf has helped a bit, but even that will not last much longer.

She will soon try to figure it out for herself too, when she starts to notice that the story doesn’t quite add up. For example, she might stay up late trying to catch Santa delivering presents.

When children ask us whether Santa is real or not, we need to decide whether our child is ready to know the truth. I plan on telling my daughter the truth one day, but will always maintain that the spirit of Christmas is very real. I will tell her the story of St. Nicholas and how he delivered presents on his white horse to children in need.

Santa may be a Christmas tradition. But, the spirit of giving to the poor, and the spirit of family and being together — that is universal.

Lets get the kids outside to play!

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A few weeks ago I posted “Educating our children…don’t take away their creativity” 

The weather got a bit nicer this week and my daughter was outside playing with her friends. It was nice to see them outside and it reminded me of the post I had about creativity and the role outdoor plays in providing it. So it inspired me to write this post today.

One of the things that I believe keeps kids creative is outdoor play. Today Kids don’t play outside much anymore. They are watching TV or playing video games. I think they are losing some great creativity. When I was a kid, I would come home from school, do my homework and go outside to play.

I guess there are many factors that have contributed to the demise of outdoor play over the years. Both parents working, more TV channels, video games, the internet, and safety for your children. Years ago, there were more stay at home Moms but we didn’t use that term back then, they were simply Moms that didn’t work. Kids could come home after school. They weren’t taken to childcare or after school care. Today more kids end up in after school childcare and don’t get home until after 6pm or later.

Regular TV consisted of a just a few channels like, ABC, NBC, CBS, FOX AND PBS. Kids could find TV shows to watch only during certain times of the day. No one offered children’s programming 24 hours a day. Now we have dozens of channels for kids to watch everyday, all day.

Kids are spending hours everyday, playing video games. They are glued to a screen. Thank goodness that some of the video games today require you to actually get up and move around. Before these existed they would just sit and play. This time spent indoors used to be outdoor time before.

The internet is the key to email, texting and Facebook. These things have sucked the life out of outside play, not to mention other social behaviors. There are 1st graders with iPhones these days. Kids under 14 years old should not be allowed to even have a Facebook account in my opinion.

This is a very sad factor today. Some kids live in neighborhoods that are not safe, so they can’t go outside to play. Back in the day, kids were able to play safely even in the worst neighborhoods.

Parents today tend to over schedule their kids as well. I’m not against the Karate, Dance and Instrument lessons, etc. But there needs to be a balance. Parents should reflect more on their own childhood and not deny their children the opportunity to have simple fun like they did. Take your kid outside to play dammit!

Kids need outside play time. It fosters creativity. Sometimes kids just want to play and not think. Maybe they just want to run around. Every kid should have some unstructured outside play time every week if the weather permits. And we as Parents need to make this happen!

What ever happened to hide and seek, freeze tag, catching fire flies, red light green light, jump rope, hope scotch, duck duck goose, tag, kick ball and the other games we used to play or just make up on the fly?

What games did you and your friends play?