Compassionate Love: Displaying compassion for those who struggle with mental illness Nancy Virden (c)2013
She stared aimlessly into snowflakes falling all around. Her children were laughing and chasing each other among potential Christmas trees. A snowball hit her side.
“Hey!” she said in mock anger.
“Mom, how about this one?” Inwardly sighing, she turned to see what tree her family had chosen to adorn the season. She felt empty. Christmas would never be the same. The year had brought with it multiple deaths of persons she loved. Her grief was overwhelming the celebration.
She smiled. “Yeah, that one looks great!”
Dashing through the snow, on a one horse open sleigh…
This would be his first Christmas without family. Earlier in the year his wife had left him, and his children lived far away, unable to make the trip. He regretted his decisions of the past and somehow hoped for a Christmas miracle – restoration of his marriage. Still, he knew he would most likely be alone on Christ’s birthday, and as the church choir led the congregation in singing carols, he tried not to weep.
After the service, an acquaintance approaches. “Hi brother! How are you doin’?”
“Good, good. How about you?”
O’er the fields we go, laughing all the way…
Her business had been her life. She’d built it with her own hands, and for a while it had brought her a sense of pride. Lately though, she’d been losing money. Her choice to close had seemed rather sudden to those on the outside, however she’d lost her spirit for the work much earlier. This Christmas several people would be unemployed including her, due to her final decision.
She paints a happy face over her clouded one and heads out the door to meet a potential buyer.
Bells on bobtail ring, making spirits bright…
“My son’s an addict. It’s been rough for a few years now.” False bravado.
“Will you see him at Christmas?” Sympathy.
“I doubt it. We do have some conversations, though.” Hesitant Openness.
“I’m sorry for your pain.” Empathy.
“It’s hard. It’s been difficult to watch my son throw his life away. Breaks my heart, really.” Vulnerability
“No doubt.” Validation.
“Ok, gotta go. I’ll see you later. Merry Christmas!” Running Scared.
Oh what fun it is to sing the sleighing song tonight…
Dark stories are a reality of Christmas. It’s here to stay… sadness, that is. Recovering alcoholics have to face the parties or stay home alone. Gay sons and daughters have to risk or accept rejection. Patients in hospitals or those mending at home will have a more solitary holiday than usual. Someone somewhere is learning they may not see 2014.
Enough drudgery! Let’s get on with the Christmas spirit!
The original purpose behind Christmas was to extend compassionate love on the entire world at great personal cost. Let’s support rather than avoid the hurting ones this year.
******NOTE: I am not a trained or licensed mental health professional. I am not a doctor. I speak only from my experiences with and observations of mental illness. In no way is this website intended to substitute for professional mental health care.
If you are struggling emotionally today or feeling suicidal, or concerned about someone who is, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline 1-800-273-TALK (8255). Hope and help can be yours.
pic by LUSI on rgbstock.com
*Words in green are the lyrics to “Jingle Bells” written by James Lord Pierpont (1822–1893) and published under the title “One Horse Open Sleigh” in the autumn of 1857.