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8 Ways to Honor a Loved One’s Life on Halloween

By Exclude from Top Posts, Seasonal

It’s the Halloween season, and people all over are decorating their homes, buying candy, and making costumes. But for you, this year might be different. Grief may be taking a toll on you emotionally, physically, and mentally. The holiday may be especially difficult for those whose lost loved one truly enjoyed Halloween and called it their favorite holiday.

Rather than hiding for the holiday and wishing it away, why not give it a meaningful twist and take time to honor and remember your loved one’s life, especially if they valued the Halloween holiday? You can fill the holiday with meaningful and positive actions that will help you make it through the day (and possibly bring some joy to others). Think about what your loved one enjoyed most about Halloween – it can be a small yet meaningful aspect – and focus in on that idea, inviting others to join you in making the most of the day and honoring your loved one.

Dr. Alan Wolfelt, a nationally respected grief counselor and educator, says, “You don’t get to go around or above your grief. You must go through it. And while you are going through it, you must express it if you are to reconcile yourself to it.” One way you can begin to work through your grief is by allowing yourself to feel the pain and expressing your emotions through purposeful, meaningful, and positive symbolic actions.

If you aren’t sure where to get started, take a look at these 8 ideas for honoring a loved one on Halloween. If none of these work for you, that’s okay. You can brainstorm your own ideas that are more fitting for your loved one’s life and memory.

1. Make a Costume

Costumes are a big part of Halloween. If your loved one enjoyed the holiday, you might consider creating a costume that would make them smile. For instance, if they loved Disney princesses, make a costume based on their favorite one. No matter what they loved – Marvel movies, John Wayne, the color red, or cats – think of a way to incorporate it into a costume in their honor.

2. Visit Your Loved One’s Grave

If Halloween was special to your loved one, you might consider taking time to visit their final resting place. Depending on the cemetery’s regulations, you could leave flowers, candy, or even a few seasonal decorations. While there, you can tell your loved one how much you miss them and share your holiday plans.

3. Plan a Halloween Gathering

If the person you are grieving loved a good Halloween party, you might put on a fun celebration or attend a costume party in his or her honor. You could ask some friends over – new ones and old ones – and have an unforgettable Halloween bash. Put together some of your loved one’s favorite treats and add a few of your own. Then, simply enjoy the time of friendship and fun. Afterward, you can write a letter to your loved one or visit a place where you feel close to them and tell them all about it.

4. Participate in a Halloween-Themed Run

If your loved one enjoyed Halloween and also loved participating in runs from 5k’s to marathons, then taking part in a Halloween-themed run might be the perfect fit. You can dress up as your loved one’s favorite character or wear an armband or t-shirt that says, “In Memory Of” and join in the Halloween festivities.

5. Take Part in a Traditional Halloween Activity

Depending on what your loved one liked about Halloween, you might join in on some of the traditional fun to honor their memory. For instance, you may take the family out to go for a hayride, wander through a corn maze, carve a pumpkin, or enter the scary depths of a haunted house. Or, you could stay close to home and give candy to trick-or-treaters. Alternatively, you could take part in a fall festival in your community. Sometimes, choosing to honor a loved one means carrying on old traditions in their memory, even as you enjoy the things they did and make new memories along the way.

6. Bake a Favorite Fall Recipe

If your loved one was a baker, you can honor their memory by whipping up the family’s favorite fall recipe. Whether it’s moist pumpkin bread, ginger snap cookies, pumpkin pie, or candied apples, you and your family can enjoy a tasty fall treat and remember the good times that you had with your loved one.

7. Watch a Scary Movie

Some people love a good scary movie and make a tradition out of watching their favorite flicks every Halloween season. If that was your loved one, grab some popcorn and treats, invite your friends over, and relive all the nail-biting moments that you and your loved one enjoyed together. This is a great time to share memories about your loved one. It also allows you to continue a tradition that he or she really enjoyed.

8. Volunteer at a Halloween-Themed Event

If your loved one was someone who loved Halloween and/or the fall season and also loved helping others, you might choose to volunteer at a children’s Halloween event, pumpkin patch, or fall festival in your community. Getting involved is a great way to honor a loved one’s memory, meet new people, and grow through new experiences.

These are just a few ideas to get you started. Ultimately, what matters most is that you feel good about what you did to remember your loved one. Just because they are gone doesn’t mean you can’t still love and celebrate them for years to come.

However, if Halloween is a more difficult holiday for you and you would like to learn about a few ways you can grieve well during the Halloween season, click here to read Grieving Well During the Halloween Season.

Remembering Our Founding Fathers: Benjamin Franklin

By Current Events, Exclude from Top Posts

The Constitution only guarantees the American people the right to pursue happiness. You have to catch it yourself.” – Benjamin Franklin

(Photo: Portrait of Benjamin Franklin)

The Fourth of July marks a great and long-remembered day in American history. It was on July 4th in 1776 that the American colonies declared their independence from Great Britain and became an independent nation. In 1870, Independence Day became a federal holiday, though it wasn’t until 1938 that it became a paid federal holiday.

Our founding fathers consist of seven influential men. They are George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, John Adams, Benjamin Franklin, James Madison, John Jay, and Alexander Hamilton. While each of these men had faults and made mistakes, together they created our nation and continue to be remembered for their patriotism and courage.

In honor of Independence Day, let’s reflect on one of our founding fathers, Benjamin Franklin: his life, his legacy, and the ways we have remembered and memorialized him.

Biography

Benjamin Franklin was born on January 17, 1706. He was one of 17 children born to a man who made soap and candles. He had very little formal education, and at the age of 12, he apprenticed to his brother, who introduced Franklin to the printer’s trade. During his apprenticeship, he read voraciously and taught himself to write. It was the beginning of a lifelong passion for the written word.

In 1730, Franklin married Deborah Read, and they eventually had two children together, Francis and Sarah. Still in the printing business, Franklin soon began to print currency for Pennsylvania, the Pennsylvania Gazette, and Poor Richard’s Almanack (which he also wrote). With his printing business and his investments, he was one of the wealthiest colonists in North America by the 1740s.

Starting in 1736, he began to involve himself in political office, beginning as a clerk of the Pennsylvania legislature. By 1748, he was wealthy enough that he retired, though he remained a silent partner in his business. He turned his attention to other pursuits, both scientific and political.

(Photo: Site of Franklin Museum in Philadelphia, PA)

In the following years, Franklin played a larger role in politics, even spending 18 years in London representing the Pennsylvania Assembly. In 1762, he returned to Philadelphia with the intention of returning to England. But with the passage of the Stamp Act in 1765 and subsequent events, he stayed in North America and sought to bridge the growing gulf between Great Britain and the colonies.

In 1775, he was elected to the Second Continental Congress. The following year, in July 1776, he helped to draft the Declaration of Independence and signed it along with many others. In October 1776, he went to France to petition for military aid. His efforts to secure military and diplomatic ties with France were successful in 1778. The French played a key role in the colonies’ winning of the Revolutionary War.

He lived in France until 1785 when he returned to the United States of America. He died in April 1790.

Franklin’s Legacy

(Photo: Declaration of Independence, which Franklin helped create)

As we look back at Benjamin Franklin’s life, none of us can deny that he left a legacy. Though he lived most of his life caught between worlds, he had a significant impact on the founding of our nation. In his lifetime, he was one of the most famous figures of the Western world. He was a printer, an inventor, a statesman, a diplomat, and a writer. His scientific discoveries included fundamental discoveries about electricity, the invention of bifocals, the odometer, and the glass harmonica. As a public servant, he had a hand in writing the Declaration of Independence, the Articles of Confederation, and his diplomatic efforts in France played a key role in winning the war.

At the time of his death, he was in disfavor with his friends and family in the United States. This was mainly due to his having lived so much outside of the United States. But nonetheless, an estimated 20,000 mourners gathered for his funeral in Philadelphia.

In June 1790, the Frenchman Count Mirabeau suggested to the French National Assembly that they, too, should wear mourning to honor Franklin. He said:

Would it not become us, gentlemen, to join in this religious act, to bear a part in this homage, rendered, in the face of the world, both to the rights of man and to the philosopher who has most contributed to extend their sway over the whole earth? Europe, enlightened and free, owes at least a token of remembrance and regret to one of the greatest men who have ever been engaged in the service of philosophy and liberty. I propose that it be decreed that the National Assembly, [over] three days, shall wear mourning for Benjamin Franklin.”

Franklin Remembered

Even now, we don’t have to look far to see the many ways that Franklin has been remembered and memorialized. Many schools, counties, towns, universities, and parks have been named for him. Fittingly, as he once printed currency, his face is on the $100 bill. And now, a museum stands where his home and print shop once did, and his written works are remembered and quoted. Ever heard “A friend in need is a friend indeed” or “A penny saved is a penny earned”? Those are Benjamin Franklin’s words, and they continue to live on.

(Photo: Statue of Benjamin Franklin)

It is through permanent memorials, like schools, museums, and statues, that we ensure a lasting tribute for those who have been loved and lost. Memorials also allow us, as people, to honor those we wish to always remember. Just as we create memorials for our heroes, we also create them for our loved ones in the form of grave markers, scholarship funds, or memorial donations.

The Importance of Legacy

As we reflect on Benjamin Franklin’s life, think also of your own life. Are you leaving a legacy that you and your family can be proud of? Have you shared what’s most important with those you care about? If you look at Franklin’s life, his legacy was peppered with both good and bad. It’s up to you whether you have an accidental legacy or an intentional one. Whether your legacy empowers others or brings them low.

(Photo: Statue of Benjamin Franklin outside the Old Post Office Building in Washington, D.C.)

With our legacies, we contribute to the future. The things we do and say affect the lives of others and have the power to create good or bad. What we do matters. What Benjamin Franklin did matters. Most of us are not prominent people. Our names are unknown to thousands, or even millions, of people. But then, fame and glory aren’t the point of a legacy. Instead, it is our responsibility as good men and women to create legacies that will take our families and the next generation to a level we can only imagine.

Let’s learn from Benjamin Franklin’s successes and mistakes and live lives that positively impact others and create legacies worth remembering.

Remembering Our Founding Fathers: James Madison

By Current Events, Exclude from Top Posts

The happy union of these states is a wonder; their constitution a miracle; their example the hope of liberty throughout the world.” – James Madison

(Photo: Portrait of James Madison)

The Fourth of July marks a great and long-remembered day in American history. It was on July 4th in 1776 that the American colonies declared their independence from Great Britain and became an independent nation. In 1870, Independence Day became a federal holiday, though it wasn’t until 1938 that it became a paid federal holiday.

Our founding fathers consist of seven influential men. They are George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, John Adams, Benjamin Franklin, James Madison, John Jay, and Alexander Hamilton. While each of these men had faults and made mistakes, together they created our nation and continue to be remembered for their patriotism and courage.

In honor of Independence Day, let’s reflect on one of our founding fathers, James Madison: his life, his legacy, and the ways we have remembered and memorialized him.

Biography

James Madison was born in 1751 in Orange County, Virginia, to a successful planter. He was the oldest of 12. In 1771, Madison graduated from what is now called Princeton University. He returned home to Virginia in 1772, and in 1775, he became a militia colonel.

In 1776, he attended the Virginia Convention, and around that time, he met Thomas Jefferson. The two would enjoy a lifelong friendship. In 1780, he served as one of Virginia’s delegates to the Continental Congress. However, in 1787, he began work on a document that would fundamentally change the fledgling nation – the U.S. Constitution.

When the Constitutional Convention met in May 1787, they intended to amend the United States’ current governmental document, the Articles of Confederation. However, they created a new document – the Constitution – and Madison was the chief recorder of information and played a key role in the Constitution’s creation. At first, the Constitution faced opposition from several states. Madison, along with Alexander Hamilton and John Jay, wrote a series of persuasive letters (the Federalist Papers) in an effort to get the Constitution ratified. It worked.

(Photo: Grounds at Montpelier, Madison’s estate)

Just two years later, in 1789, Madison won a seat in the U.S. House of Representatives and was an instrumental force behind the Bill of Rights, which was adopted in 1791. In 1795, Madison married Dolley Payne Todd, and tired of the political battles, he retired to his family home, Montpelier.

However, he returned to politics in 1801 to serve as President Thomas Jefferson’s secretary of state. After Jefferson’s two terms, Madison became the fourth president of the United States in 1808. It was during his presidency that the United States fought against Britain in the War of 1812.

After leaving office, Madison returned to Montpelier with Dolley. There, he ran the plantation and helped create the University of Virginia (along with Thomas Jefferson). He assumed leadership of the school in 1826. He served as college chancellor until his death on June 28, 1836.

Madison’s Legacy

(Photo: U.S. Constitution)

As we look back at James Madison’s life, none of us can deny that he left a legacy. He is often called the “Father of the Constitution” and was a driving force behind the Bill of Rights. If nothing else, it is due to James Madison that Americans today have the right to a fair trial, freedom of speech, and the exercise of religion. He was an intellectual, a patriot, our fourth president, and a man whose ideas shaped a nation and established the rights we enjoy today.

Following his death in June 1836, former president John Quincy Adams (sixth president) was asked to deliver a eulogy in Madison’s honor. He said:

Let us look back then for consolation from the thought of the shortness of human life, as urged upon us by the recent decease of James Madison, one of the pillars and ornaments of his country and of his age. His time on earth was short, yet he died full of years and of glory – less, far less than one hundred years have elapsed since the day of his birth – yet has he fulfilled, nobly fulfilled, his destinies as a man and a Christian. He has improved his own condition by improving that of his country….”

Madison Remembered

Even now, we don’t have to look far to see the many ways that Madison has been remembered and memorialized. Buildings, counties, towns, military vessels, parks, and statues have been named for him. Any time children learn about the Constitution, the Bill of Rights, and the early days of our nation, James Madison will always be mentioned.

(Photo: Capital Building in Madison, WI, which was named after James Madison)

It is through permanent memorials, like schools, museums, and statues, that we ensure a lasting tribute for those who have been loved and lost. Memorials also allow us, as people, to honor those we wish to always remember. Just as we create memorials for our heroes, we also create them for our loved ones in the form of grave markers, scholarship funds, or memorial donations.

The Importance of Legacy

As we reflect on James Madison’s life, think also of your own life. Are you leaving a legacy that you and your family can be proud of? Have you shared what’s most important with those you care about? If you look at Madison’s life, his legacy was peppered with both good and bad. It’s up to you whether you have an accidental legacy or an intentional one. Whether your legacy empowers others or brings them low.

(Photo: Bill of Rights)

With our legacies, we contribute to the future. The things we do and say affect the lives of others and have the power to create good or bad. What we do matters. What James Madison did matters. Most of us are not prominent people. Our names are unknown to thousands, or even millions, of people. But then, fame and glory aren’t the point of a legacy. Instead, it is our responsibility as good men and women to create legacies that will take our families and the next generation to a level we can only imagine.

Let’s learn from James Madison’s successes and mistakes and live lives that positively impact others and create legacies worth remembering.

Remembering Our Founding Fathers: John Jay

By Current Events, Exclude from Top Posts

America belongs to ‘We the People.’”  – John Jay

(Photo: John Jay in his chief justice robes)

The Fourth of July marks a great and long-remembered day in American history. It was on July 4th in 1776 that the American colonies declared their independence from Great Britain and became an independent nation. In 1870, Independence Day became a federal holiday, though it wasn’t until 1938 that it became a paid federal holiday.

Our founding fathers consist of seven influential men. They are George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, John Adams, Benjamin Franklin, James Madison, John Jay, and Alexander Hamilton. While each of these men had faults and made mistakes, together they created our nation and continue to be remembered for their patriotism and courage.

In honor of Independence Day, let’s reflect on one of our founding fathers, John Jay: his life, his legacy, and the ways we have remembered and memorialized him.

Biography

Born on December 12, 1745, in New York, John Jay was born to a wealthy merchant family. He later graduated from King’s College (Columbia University) in 1764 and began his career as a lawyer. He quickly became known in New York political circles and was elected to represent New York at the first Continental Congress in 1774. During this meeting, representatives discussed colonial resistance to Britain’s oppressive laws.

Also, in 1774, John Jay married Sarah Livingstone. They would have six children together, one of which was William Jay, who would later become one of America’s most important abolitionists and friend to Frederick Douglass.

(Photo: Columbia University, where Jay attended)

At the beginning of the conflict with Great Britain, John Jay desired a peaceful resolution with Great Britain but fully supported the Revolution. He served as president of the Continental Congress in 1778 before traveling to Spain, seeking support for the colonial cause. Though his efforts in Spain did not produce the desired results, in 1782, he went to France and helped negotiate the Treaty of Paris, the document that ended the Revolutionary War.

After the treaty was signed, the Articles of Confederation became the first constitution of the United States. However, in 1787, it became apparent that a new constitution was needed. James Madison was a driving force behind the U.S. Constitution and Bill of Rights we still use today. However, the document wasn’t supported by the states in the beginning. Therefore, John Jay, Alexander Hamilton, and James Madison banded together to write The Federalist Papers, which argued in support of the new Constitution. Soon thereafter, the Constitution was ratified and went into effect.

In 1789, George Washington appointed Jay as the Supreme Court’s first chief justice, a position he held until 1795. He resigned his position as chief justice to serve as governor of New York. In 1801, Jay retired to his family farm, and he died on May 17, 1829.

Jay’s Legacy

(Photo: Gavel in a courtroom)

As we look back at John Jay’s life, none of us can deny that he left a legacy. He drafted New York’s first state constitution, served as a key negotiator at the Treaty of Paris, served as New York’s second governor, and became our very first Supreme Court chief justice. He was a writer, a patriot, and a bastion of support for the U.S. Constitution.

Though he is the most forgotten of the founding fathers, he still had a significant impact. Walter Stahr wrote a book about John Jay, and in it, he says: “Unlike John Adams, who spent a lot of time defending his place in history, Jay does not spend a lot of time on that. He answers letters as they arrive but doesn’t seek out writing engagements. The War of 1812 (between the U.S. and Britain) is very worrisome because he devoted a lot of his time to avoiding that. And he worried about the emerging tensions between North and South. In the end, he’s more worried about America than he is about John Jay.”

Known as a quiet man who never lost his cool or his dignity, Jay, along with the other founding fathers, played a key role in creating the nation we live in today.

Jay Remembered

Even though Jay is not as famous as his counterparts, he is still remembered and memorialized. Many towns and counties in New York are named after him as well as a number of schools. Also, James Fenimore Cooper, author of The Last of the Mohicans, used Jay’s childhood home as inspiration in one of his written works. When children learn about the founding of our nation, John Jay will always be mentioned.

(Photo: Supreme Court building)

It is through permanent memorials, like schools, museums, and statues, that we ensure a lasting tribute for those who have been loved and lost. Memorials also allow us, as people, to honor those we wish to always remember. Just as we create memorials for our heroes, we also create them for our loved ones in the form of grave markers, scholarship funds, or memorial donations.

The Importance of Legacy

As we reflect on John Jay’s life, think also of your own life. Are you leaving a legacy that you and your family can be proud of? Have you shared what’s most important with those you care about? If you look at Jay’s life, his legacy was peppered with both good and bad. However, it’s up to you whether you have an accidental legacy or an intentional one. Whether your legacy empowers others or brings them low.

(Photo: American flag flying in Washington, D.C.)

With our legacies, we contribute to the future. The things we do and say affect the lives of others and have the power to create good or bad. What we do matters. What John Jay did matters. Most of us are not prominent people. Our names are unknown to thousands, or even millions, of people. But then, fame and glory aren’t the point of a legacy. Instead, it is our responsibility as good men and women to create legacies that will take our families and the next generation to a level we can only imagine.

Let’s learn from John Jay’s successes and mistakes and live lives that positively impact others and create legacies worth remembering.

Remembering Our Founding Fathers: Alexander Hamilton

By Current Events, Exclude from Top Posts

Those who stand for nothing fall for anything.” -Alexander Hamilton

(Photo: Portrait of Alexander Hamilton)

The Fourth of July marks a great and long-remembered day in American history. It was on July 4th in 1776 that the American colonies declared their independence from Great Britain and became an independent nation. In 1870, Independence Day became a federal holiday, though it wasn’t until 1938 that it became a paid federal holiday.

Our founding fathers consist of seven influential men. They are George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, John Adams, Benjamin Franklin, James Madison, John Jay, and Alexander Hamilton. While each of these men had faults and made mistakes, together they created our nation and continue to be remembered for their patriotism and courage.

In honor of Independence Day, let’s reflect on one of our founding fathers, Alexander Hamilton: his life, his legacy, and the ways we have remembered and memorialized him.

Biography

Born in the British West Indies in January 1755 or 1757, Alexander Hamilton was the illegitimate son of Rachel Lavien and James Hamilton. When he was 11, Hamilton’s father deserted the family, and not long after, his mother died.

For a time, he worked as an accounting clerk, where he first learned about international commerce. With his employer’s help, Hamilton went to America to pursue an education. He arrived in America in 1773. Soon after, Hamilton took up the colonials’ cause.

By 1777, he became George Washington’s assistant and trusted advisor. For the next five years, Hamilton worked closely with Washington. Also during this time, Hamilton married Elizabeth Schuyler, with whom he would have eight children.

(Photo: George Washington, whom Hamilton served under)

Following the Treaty of Paris, which ended the war, Hamilton remained with Washington until 1782, at which time he left to pursue a career in law. Hamilton enjoyed a large amount of success, distinguishing himself as one of New York City’s finest attorneys.

Hamilton continued his involvement in politics. He served as a New York delegate, joined James Madison and John Jay in writing the Federalist Papers, and under George Washington’s presidency, became the first secretary of the treasury.

In 1800, Thomas Jefferson narrowly won the presidency. Aaron Burr served as Jefferson’s vice president. When Jefferson ran in 1804, he did not include Burr on his ticket. Instead, Burr ran for the New York governorship, but lost. While frustrated and angry at this loss, Burr read a newspaper article that quoted Hamilton as saying that Burr was “the most unfit and dangerous man of the community.”

Burr demanded an explanation, which Hamilton refused to give. Burr then challenged Hamilton to a duel, which Hamilton reluctantly accepted. On July 11, 1804, the duel took place. Hamilton received a fatal wound and died the following day.

Hamilton’s Legacy

(Photo: Statue of Hamilton outside the U.S. Treasury building)

As we look back at Alexander Hamilton’s life, none of us can deny that he left a legacy. He served as a delegate at the Constitutional Convention and was a major author of the Federalist Papers. But most importantly, he served as our first secretary of the treasury. In this role, he created a modern financial system, funded the national debt, founded a bank, and established a mint with the dollar as currency.

Though he is not the most prominent of our founding fathers, he still had a significant impact on the success of our nation, particularly in regard to early financial stability. Two days after his death, Hamilton’s longtime friend, Gouverneur Morris said in a eulogy: “At the time when our government was organised, we were without funds, though not without resources. To call them into action, and establish order in the finances, Washington sought for splendid talents, for extensive information, and, above all, he sought for sterling, incorruptible integrity—All these he found in Hamilton.”

Hamilton Remembered

In recent years, Alexander Hamilton’s name has resurfaced because of the success of the Broadway musical, Hamilton, which is based on his life. In addition to this popular theatrical production, we remember and memorialize Hamilton in other ways. Many towns, counties, parks, bridges, schools, and even ships are named after him. Additionally, it is his face on the $10 bill. Anytime children learn about the founding of our nation, Alexander Hamilton will always be mentioned.

(Photo: Hamilton on the $10 bill)

It is through permanent memorials, like schools, museums, and statues, that we ensure a lasting tribute for those who have been loved and lost. Memorials also allow us, as people, to honor those we wish to always remember. Just as we create memorials for our heroes, we also create them for our loved ones in the form of grave markers, scholarship funds, or memorial donations.

The Importance of Legacy

As we reflect on Alexander Hamilton’s life, think also of your own life. Are you leaving a legacy that you and your family can be proud of? Have you shared what’s most important with those you care about? If you look at Hamilton’s life, his legacy was peppered with both good and bad. However, it’s up to you whether you have an accidental legacy or an intentional one. Whether your legacy empowers others or brings them low.

(Photo: U.S. Treasury in Washington, D.C.)

With our legacies, we contribute to the future. The things we do and say affect the lives of others and have the power to create good or bad. What we do matters. What Alexander Hamilton did matters. Most of us are not prominent people. Our names are unknown to thousands, or even millions, of people. But then, fame and glory aren’t the point of a legacy. Instead, it is our responsibility as good men and women to create legacies that will take our families and the next generation to a level we can only imagine.

Let’s learn from Alexander Hamilton’s successes and mistakes and live lives that positively impact others and create legacies worth remembering.

Remembering Our Founding Fathers: Thomas Jefferson

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Do you want to know who you are? Don’t ask. Act! Action will delineate and define you.” – Thomas Jefferson

(Photo: Statue of Jefferson at Jefferson Memorial in Washington, D.C.)

The Fourth of July marks a great and long-remembered day in American history. It was on July 4th in 1776 that the American colonies declared their independence from Great Britain and became an independent nation. In 1870, Independence Day became a federal holiday, though it wasn’t until 1938 that it became a paid federal holiday.

Our founding fathers consist of seven influential men. They are George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, John Adams, Benjamin Franklin, James Madison, John Jay, and Alexander Hamilton. While each of these men had faults and made mistakes, together they created our nation and continue to be remembered for their patriotism and courage.

In honor of Independence Day, let’s reflect on one of our founding fathers, Thomas Jefferson: his life, his legacy, and the ways we have remembered and memorialized him.

Biography

Thomas Jefferson was born on April 13, 1743, in Virginia. He was born the third of ten siblings in a prominent family. In 1760, he attended the College of William and Mary, and eventually, he became a lawyer.

From 1767-1774, Jefferson practiced law in Virginia to great success. During this time, he also fell in love with and married Martha Wayles Skelton. They married on January 1, 1772, and eventually had six children together (though only two lived to adulthood).

Jefferson became involved in the colonial cause early in its development. In 1768, he served in the Virginia House of Burgesses, and in 1775, he attended the Second Continental Congress.

(Photo: Monticello, Jefferson’s home in Virginia)

In 1776, Jefferson was part of a five-man committee to draft a declaration of independence. He wrote the first draft in 17 days. After the Declaration was adopted on July 4, 1776, he returned to Virginia where he served in the Virginia House of Delegates and then as the second governor of Virginia.

Afterward, Jefferson retreated from public life until the untimely death of his young wife. He was then appointed the U.S. Minister to France, replacing Benjamin Franklin. After five years in France, he returned to serve as Secretary of State during Washington’s presidency.

Jefferson went on to serve as Vice President under John Adams, and in 1801, he became the third president of the United States and served two terms. Perhaps the most significant accomplishment of his presidency was the Louisiana Purchase in 1803. With this purchase from Napoleonic France, he doubled the size of the new nation.

After his presidency, Jefferson devoted much of his time to the establishment of the University of Virginia, and on July 4, 1826 – the 50th anniversary of the Declaration of Independence – he died at his home.

Jefferson’s Legacy

(Photo: The Declaration of Independence)

As we look back at Thomas Jefferson’s life, none of us can deny that he left a legacy. He drafted the Declaration of Independence, served as both Vice President and President, and helped double the size of our nation. He was a scholar, a lawyer, a patriot, our third president, and a man whose words shaped the document that led to the creation of the United States of America.

During the last years of his life, Jefferson developed a strong friendship with his former political opponent, John Adams. In fact, they would die on the same day – July 4, 1826.

One month after their deaths, statesman Daniel Webster gave a eulogy for both men. He said:

As human beings, indeed, they are no more. To their country they yet live, and live forever. They live in all that perpetuates the remembrance of men on earth; in the recorded proofs of their own great actions, in the offspring of their intellect, in the deep engraved lines of public gratitude, and in the respect and homage of mankind. They live in their example; and they live, emphatically, and will live in the influence which their lives and efforts, their principles and opinions, now exercise, and will continue to exercise, on the affairs of men, not only in their own country but throughout the civilized world.”

Jefferson Remembered

Even now, we don’t have to look far to see the many ways that Jefferson has been remembered and memorialized. Mt. Rushmore, the Thomas Jefferson Memorial, schools, universities, streets, cities, parks, and statues have been named for him. Any time children learn about the Declaration of Independence, Thomas Jefferson will always appear.

(Photo: Mount Rushmore, Jefferson is the second from the left)

It is through permanent memorials, like schools, museums, and statues, that we ensure a lasting tribute for those who have been loved and lost. Memorials also allow us, as people, to honor those we wish to always remember. Just as we create memorials for our heroes, we also create them for our loved ones in the form of grave markers, scholarship funds, or memorial donations.

The Importance of Legacy

As we reflect on Thomas Jefferson’s life, think also of your own life. Are you leaving a legacy that you and your family can be proud of? Have you shared what’s most important with those you care about? If you look at Jefferson’s life, his legacy was peppered with both good and bad. However, it’s up to you whether you have an accidental legacy or an intentional one. Whether your legacy empowers others or brings them low.

(Photo: Jefferson Memorial in Washington, D.C.)

With our legacies, we contribute to the future. The things we do and say affect the lives of others and have the power to create good or bad. What we do matters. What Thomas Jefferson did matters. Most of us are not prominent people. Our names are unknown to thousands, or even millions, of people. But then, fame and glory aren’t the point of a legacy. Instead, it is our responsibility as good men and women to create legacies that will take our families and the next generation to a level we can only imagine.

Let’s learn from Thomas Jefferson’s successes and mistakes and live lives that positively impact others and create legacies worth remembering.

Remembering Our Founding Fathers: John Adams

By Current Events, Exclude from Top Posts

To be good, and to do good, is all we have to do.” – John Adams

(Photo: Portrait of John Adams)

The Fourth of July marks a great and long-remembered day in American history. It was on July 4th in 1776 that the American colonies declared their independence from Great Britain and became an independent nation. In 1870, Independence Day became a federal holiday, though it wasn’t until 1938 that it became a paid federal holiday.

Our founding fathers consist of seven influential men. They are George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, John Adams, Benjamin Franklin, James Madison, John Jay, and Alexander Hamilton. While each of these men had faults and made mistakes, together they created our nation and continue to be remembered for their patriotism and courage.

In honor of Independence Day, let’s reflect on one of our founding fathers, John Adams: his life, his legacy, and the ways we have remembered and memorialized him.

Biography

John Adams was born on October 30, 1735, in Massachusetts to John and Susanna Adams. At 16, he earned a scholarship to attend Harvard University. He graduated in 1755 and went to work for a prominent attorney. Three years later, he earned his master’s degree from Harvard and passed the bar exam. He married Abigail Smith in October 1764, and they had six children (one of whom, John Quincey Adams, would later become the sixth president).

(Photo: John Adams’s birthplace)

Soon after the Stamp Act of 1765, Adams became identified with the colonials’ cause. He wrote many essays in opposition to Great Britain’s acts. In 1770, he represented British soldiers on trial for killing five civilians at what has become known as the Boston Massacre. He believed that every person deserved a defense. In the end, six of the eight soldiers were acquitted and two convicted of manslaughter.

At the time, the people did not look kindly on his defense of the soldiers, but in the future, his actions would enhance his reputation as a generous and fair man. In 1774, he represented Massachusetts at the First Continental Congress, and when the Continental Army was created in 1775, he nominated George Washington as commander-in-chief.

In 1776, Adams, along with Thomas Jefferson and several others, was appointed by Congress to draft a declaration. The result was our Declaration of Independence, approved on July 4. The war continued, and in 1779, Adams was one of the American diplomats (along with Benjamin Franklin) sent to negotiate the Treaty of Paris, which would end the Revolutionary War.

Adams remained in Europe for a number of years, representing the newly formed United States of America. During Washington’s two terms as president, Adams served as vice president. Then, in 1796, he became the second president of the United States, narrowly beating out Thomas Jefferson. After his single term, he retired and lived quietly with his wife in Massachusetts. He died on July 4, 1826, the 50th anniversary of American Independence.

Adams’s Legacy

(Photo: Independence Hall, where the Declaration of Independence was signed)

As we look back at John Adams’s life, none of us can deny that he left a legacy. Though he often dealt with public opposition, due to his decision to defend the British soldiers after the Boston Massacre and his later decision not to start a naval war with France, he was a major influence in the founding of our nation. He was a loving father and husband, an articulate statesman and politician, and he was unswerving in his support of the cause for independence. He was a signer of the Declaration of Independence, our first vice president, and our second president.

Following his presidency and his retirement to Massachusetts, Adams and Thomas Jefferson, who were often opponents, began writing to each other and developed a strong friendship. They would die on the same day, one in Massachusetts, the other in Virginia.

One month after their deaths, statesman Daniel Webster gave a eulogy for both men. He said:

As human beings, indeed, they are no more. To their country they yet live, and live forever. They live in all that perpetuates the remembrance of men on earth; in the recorded proofs of their own great actions, in the offspring of their intellect, in the deep engraved lines of public gratitude, and in the respect and homage of mankind. They live in their example; and they live, emphatically, and will live in the influence which their lives and efforts, their principles and opinions, now exercise, and will continue to exercise, on the affairs of men, not only in their own country but throughout the civilized world.”

Adams Remembered

Even now, we don’t have to look far to see the many ways that Adams has been remembered and memorialized. Buildings, counties, military vessels, mountains, parks, and statues have been named for him. Any time children learn about the early days of our nation, John Adams will always appear.

(Photo: Scene from the signing of the Declaration of Independence as seen on the back of the $2 bill – Adams on far left)

It is through permanent memorials, like schools, museums, and statues, that we ensure a lasting tribute for those who have been loved and lost. Memorials also allow us, as people, to honor those we wish to always remember. Just as we create memorials for our heroes, we also create them for our loved ones in the form of grave markers, scholarship funds, or memorial donations.

The Importance of Legacy

As we reflect on John Adams’s life, think also of your own life. Are you leaving a legacy that you and your family can be proud of? Have you shared what’s most important with those you care about? If you look at Adams’s life, his legacy was peppered with both good and bad. It’s up to you whether you have an accidental legacy or an intentional one. Whether your legacy empowers others or brings them low.

(Photo: John Adams’s signature)

With our legacies, we contribute to the future. The things we do and say affect the lives of others and have the power to create good or bad. What we do matters. What John Adams did matters. Most of us are not prominent people. Our names are unknown to thousands, or even millions, of people. But then, fame and glory aren’t the point of a legacy. Instead, it is our responsibility as good men and women to create legacies that will take our families and the next generation to a level we can only imagine.

Let’s learn from John Adams’s successes and mistakes and live lives that positively impact others and create legacies worth remembering.

Remembering Our Founding Fathers: George Washington

By Current Events, Exclude from Top Posts

I hope I shall possess firmness and virtue enough to maintain what I consider the most enviable of all titles, the character of an honest man.” – George Washington

(Photo: George Washington during the Revolutionary War)

The Fourth of July marks a great and long-remembered day in American history. It was on July 4th in 1776 that the American colonies declared their independence from Great Britain and became an independent nation. In 1870, Independence Day became a federal holiday, though it wasn’t until 1938 that it became a paid federal holiday.

Our founding fathers consist of seven influential men. They are George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, John Adams, Benjamin Franklin, James Madison, John Jay, and Alexander Hamilton. While each of these men had faults and made mistakes, together they created our nation and continue to be remembered for their patriotism and courage.

In honor of Independence Day, let’s reflect on one of our founding fathers, George Washington: his life, his legacy, and the ways we have remembered and memorialized him.

Biography

George Washington was born on February 22, 1732, in Westmoreland, Virginia. He was the eldest child of Augustine and Mary Ball Washington, though he was the fourth child overall (his mother being Augustine’s second wife). Not much is known about his childhood, except that he was mostly educated at home and helped his father on the tobacco farm.

When he was 11, his father died, and he became the ward of his half-brother, Lawrence. Sadly, in 1752, Lawrence died of tuberculosis when Washington was only 20 years old, leaving him as the heir of Mount Vernon and the family lands.

(Photo: George Washington’s family home of Mt. Vernon) 

Shortly after Lawrence’s death, Washington’s military career began. During the French and Indian War, he was appointed a major in the Virginia militia. Though he fought bravely, bureaucracy mired his experience with the militia, and in 1758, he resigned and returned to Mount Vernon.

At this time, he married Martha Custis, a widow, and loved her two children as his own. From 1758 until the Revolutionary War began, he focused on his home and lands. As tensions with Great Britain continued to rise, he became involved in politics, and in 1775, he was appointed Major General and Commander-in-Chief of the colonial forces by the Second Continental Congress.

Through many dark days and bloody battles, Washington commanded the colonial forces until November 1783 when the war was over. He resigned from his position on December 23, 1783, and returned home to Mount Vernon to rebuild his lands.

Then, in 1789, he became the first president of the United States. In this role, he set the precedent for all the presidents that would follow. He served two terms, and in 1797, he turned the presidency over to John Adams and retired to Virginia. Two years later, in December 1799, he became sick and died. The entire country mourned at his passing.

Washington’s Legacy

(Photo: Statue of George Washington in New York City)

As we look back at George Washington’s life, none of us can deny that he left a legacy. Often called the “Father of His Country,” Washington lived with integrity and character. He cared deeply for the men under his command, he loved his wife and adopted children loyally, and he is known as a man of personal integrity, focused on duty, honor, and patriotism.

He was a loving husband and father, a military hero, and our first president. To this day, we remember him with respect and awe for who he was and what he accomplished.

At his funeral, Congressman Henry Lee eulogized Washington with these words, which would impress Washington’s memory on the American people:

“First in war, first in peace, and first in the hearts of his countrymen, he was second to none in humble and enduring scenes of private life. Pious, just, humane, temperate, and sincere; uniform, dignified, and commanding; his example was as edifying to all around him as were the effects of that example lasting. … Correct throughout, vice shuddered in his presence and virtue always felt his fostering hand. The purity of his private character gave effulgence to his public virtues. … Such was the man for whom our nation mourns.

Washington Remembered

Even now, we don’t have to look far to see the many ways that Washington has been remembered and memorialized. The Washington Monument, George Washington University, the state of Washington, Mt. Rushmore, the $1 bill, plus numerous institutions, towns, counties, parks, and statues are all named to honor his memory.

(Photo: Mount Rushmore, Washington depicted on far left) 

It is through these permanent memorials that we ensure a lasting tribute for those who have been loved and lost. Memorials also allow us, as people, to honor those we wish to always remember. Just as we create memorials for our heroes, we also create them for our loved ones in the form of grave markers, scholarship funds, or memorial donations.

The Importance of Legacy

As we reflect on George Washington’s life, think also of your own life. Are you leaving a legacy that you and your family can be proud of? Have you shared what’s most important with those you care about? It’s up to you whether you have an accidental legacy or an intentional one. Whether your legacy empowers others or brings them low.

(Photo: Washington Monument, built to commemorate his life and legacy)

With our legacies, we contribute to the future. The things we do and say affect the lives of others and have the power to create good or bad. What we do matters. What George Washington did matters. Most of us are not prominent people. Our names are unknown to thousands, or even millions, of people. But then, fame and glory aren’t the point of a legacy. Instead, it is our responsibility as good men and women to create legacies that will take our families and the next generation to a level we can only imagine.

Let’s learn from George Washington and live lives that positively impact others and create legacies worth remembering.

12 Tips for Loving the Grieving During the Christmas Season

By Christmas, Exclude from Top Posts, Seasonal

It’s Christmas time. Twinkling lights are going up, parties are being planned, and cookies and treats galore are baking in ovens across the nation. But even as happy tidings are shared between neighbors, we can’t forget that many of our neighbors, friends, and family members are hurting deeply. Grief is not relegated to certain parts of the year. But how can we be sensitive to the emotional needs of those around us who are hurting during this festive time?

As nationally renowned grief expert, author, and counselor, Dr. Alan Wolfelt, puts it, “…it is important to recognize that helping a grieving friend will not be an easy task. You may have to give more concern, time and love than you ever knew you had. But this effort will be more than worth it. By ‘walking with’ your friend in grief, you are giving one of life’s most precious gifts – yourself.”

Consider these 12 tips for how to interact with your grieving friends or loved ones this Christmas.

1. Recognize and accept that your loved one is hurting, and they are going to experience grief during the holiday season.

We may want our grieving loved one to “enjoy” the holiday season, but we need to make sure that we aren’t pushing too hard. What you consider enjoyment and what your grieving friend considers enjoyment will look completely different. They are going to experience a myriad of emotions throughout the holidays. Let them experience these emotions, and be a safe person to talk to about them. Above all, don’t try to avoid people who are grieving. They are already hurting; let’s not add our own discomfort to the load they are carrying.

2. Encourage your grieving loved one to set healthy boundaries, and be prepared to support and abide by those boundaries.

The person who is grieving will have limited energy, so it’s important that they figure out what will work for them during this busy season. No, they shouldn’t entirely shut out all things Christmas, but they should limit what they do, depending on their needs. If you are close to someone who is grieving, encourage them to set boundaries, and then, be prepared to support those boundaries, abide by them, and if necessary, help your grieving loved one fight to keep them.

3. Give your grieving loved one plenty of notice about an event or gathering.

More often than not, someone who is grieving needs time to work up the energy to go out to an event or gathering. Make sure you them give plenty of notice so they can mentally and emotionally prepare. Also remember! You are encouraging them to put down healthy boundaries for the holidays. Don’t be offended or hurt if they decide not to come to your party.

4. Look for ways to honor the memory of a lost loved one.

You can do any number of truly special and unique things to honor a lost loved one. Buy or make a special gift. Sit down with your grieving friend and share memories or stories of the lost loved one. Join your grieving friend for a special trip to the gravesite. Donate to the lost loved one’s favorite charity. Find out if a local funeral home or church is facilitating a remembrance service and invite your grieving loved one.

5. Don’t force your grieving loved one into all the old traditions. Come up with a new tradition together.

Depending on who has died, the old traditions may be too painful. If it’s appropriate, sit down with your grieving loved one and talk about which traditions to keep this year and which ones to put aside. You might consider coming up with a brand-new tradition that will breathe some fresh air into the season.

6. Invite your grieving loved one to take part in a Christmas service project.

When we grieve, we can sometimes become so focused on the strong emotions we are feeling that we forget to come up for air. It’s a good practice to focus on others so that we can let our minds rest from the grief for a while. Invite your grieving friend to volunteer at a soup kitchen, to make blankets for the homeless, or to participate in another opportunity available through the church or community.

7. Be ready to help when your loved one needs it. Make room for them and ensure that they don’t feel like an inconvenience.

When someone is grieving, they often want to be alone and not be an inconvenience to those around them. Make sure that your grieving loved one knows that you have time for them and want them to be a part of your Christmas season. Practically speaking, be available, be inclusive, and be ready to offer help and support.

8. Encourage your loved one to take care of themselves.

In times of grief, people often feel overwhelmed, tired, and emotionally spent, and because of this, it’s important to take care of ourselves even while we grieve. Invite your grieving friend for a walk. Ask your grieving mother if she’d like a cup of hot cocoa or tea. If you have a grieving friend or family member visiting you for the holidays, turn down the covers of the guest bed, and let them know it’s ready if they’d like to take a nap. If you know their favorite foods, prepare something just for them and take it to their home, staying for a short visit. Show them that it’s okay to enjoy the simple pleasures even if their loved one is gone.

9. Don’t offer advice. Listen. Always give your loved one choices, force nothing.

It’s important that we allow people to grieve at their own pace and to be mindful of the words we say. Make sure that you don’t make assumptions about their grief. Try not to make comparisons to how you have mourned a loss in the past. Make sure to give them choices – if you force them into something, it likely won’t end well. More than anything, they need you to listen, to be present, and in many cases, to be silent.

10. Look for practical ways to offer help.

The holidays often mean lots of planning and preparation. For someone who is grieving, the things that once brought great joy may now feel pointless or like they are too much work. So, look for ways that you can help. Offer to help put up the Christmas tree or wrap presents. Ask them if they’d like to come to your home for a baking extravaganza (or perhaps they’d rather you come to theirs). If they need to shop for gifts, offer to go with them, or if they have a list, to pick up what they need. You may have some other great ideas for personal and meaningful ways to practically help your grieving loved one.

11. Send a thoughtful holiday card.

For many, Christmas time means sending cards with holiday cheer to friends and family. Though the practice has dwindled somewhat in recent years, it’s a valuable way to tangibly show that you care about someone and are thinking of them. Consider putting some extra time and thought into what you might say in a meaningful card, words that will comfort and bring hope.

12. Follow up after the holidays to see how they are doing.

We aren’t always the best about following through on things, but in this case, let’s try to put extra effort in. It’s important for a grieving person to know that your love and concern aren’t just temporary but are true and sincere. Make sure to reach out and offer your support all through the year.

A Christmas Playlist for the Grieving Heart

By Christmas, Exclude from Top Posts, Seasonal

The Christmas season can be especially difficult for those who are grieving. Many Christmas songs are lighthearted, happy, and discuss themes of romantic love, family, or joyfulness. But maybe you don’t feel very happy this Christmas…maybe this is the hardest Christmas you’ve ever faced. For that reason, this list of songs has been compiled. This Christmas Playlist is meant to help you to grieve during this Christmas season. Just because the culture says you should be light and joyful does not mean you have to put on a cheerful face and pretend you aren’t hurting. Be where you are, but also try to look for ways to enjoy Christmas on your own terms and in your own way.

Most of us enjoy music. It helps us get in touch with our emotions. Music can bring us great joy, motivate us, challenge us, and bring tears to our eyes. This Christmas season, don’t be afraid to listen to music that helps you embrace your sadness. Dr. Alan Wolfelt, nationally-renowned grief expert, reminds us, “As you approach the holidays, remember: grief is both a necessity and a privilege. It comes as a result of giving and receiving love. Don’t let anyone take your grief away. Love yourself. Be patient with yourself. And allow yourself to be surrounded by loving, caring people.”

The songs included in this Christmas Playlist are diverse. Some are meant to help you embrace your sadness, some are meant to remind you of the good things still in your life, and some are meant to help you embrace the meaning of Christmas and the joys of your former Christmases. The list is not comprehensive – feel free to add songs that speak to your heart personally and remove songs that aren’t meaningful for you.

This Christmas is yours. Consider honestly what you truly need. Then, do what is best for you, unapologetically.

  • Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas (Sam Smith)

Faithful friends who are dear to us
Gather near to us once more

First published in 1943, this song brought great comfort to many American soldiers who spent Christmas overseas on the battlefield. The song’s slow tempo and heartfelt words convey a sense of nostalgia. The listener is encouraged to remember past Christmases and look forward to future ones, but it does not negate the difficulty of the present Christmas.

  • Silent Night (Bing Crosby)

Silent night, holy night, wondrous star, lend thy light;
With the angels let us sing,
Alleluia to our King.

Silent Night is one of the most popular Christmas carols of all time and has been translated into over 300 languages. The song is familiar, comforting, and most importantly, calls us to look beyond our circumstances and remember why we have the season of Christmas.

  • Do You Hear What I Hear? (Carrie Underwood)

The Child, the Child, sleeping in the night
He will bring us goodness and light

Originally released just after Thanksgiving in 1962, this song was written as a response to the Cuban Missile Crisis. Tension spread across the United States, and many had mixed emotions during the Christmas season. Of all the lines, the ones that bring the most comfort are, “Pray for peace, people everywhere! Listen to what I say, the Child, the Child sleeping in the night, He will bring us goodness and light.” May you receive peace, goodness, and light this Christmas season.

  • Thankful (Josh Groban)

And on this day we hope for
What we still can’t see

First released on Josh Groban’s Christmas album, Noel, the lyrics do not carry a heavy Christmas theme. Instead, they focus on the fact that, even though we may be grieving, there is so much to be thankful for. Sit and let the soothing music flow over you and ponder what you can be thankful for during this time of sadness.

  • Where Are You, Christmas? (Faith Hill)

My world is changing
I’m rearranging
Does that mean Christmas changes too

This song tackles the ever-changing aspect of our lives, and as our world changes, so does the way we celebrate the holidays. As we deal with loss (no matter what kind of loss it may be), we have to find our “new normal,” and what life is going to look like for us now.

  • My Grown-up Christmas List (Kelly Clarkson)

But heaven only knows
That packages and bows
Can never heal
A hurting human soul

At its heart, this song is about the wish deep within us that the difficult things in life would disappear. As children, we asked our parents and Santa Claus for bikes, dolls, games, and candy, but as grown-ups, we see the pain in the world and ask for very different things. This song perfectly expresses the desire that every person would receive peace, hope, and love.

  • I Pray on Christmas (Harry Connick, Jr.)

I pray on Christmas
That God will lead the way
And I pray on Christmas
He’ll get me through another day

This jazz-inspired Christmas song from Harry Connick, Jr., incorporates elements of gospel music. In his crooning style, Harry conveys the message that God will hear us, be with us, and get us through Christmas day. While still expressing the need we have to lean on others during hard times, the song is uplifting and soulful.

  • Merry Christmas, Darling (The Carpenters)

But I can dream and in my dreams
I’m Christmas-ing with you

Released in 1970 by a brother-sister duo, known as The Carpenters, the lyrics were originally written in 1946, and then, put to music by Richard Carpenter. While the lyrics were written with deployed soldiers in mind, the words apply to anyone who is missing a loved one during the Christmas season. As you grieve this season, it’s okay to miss your loved one and to wish that they were still near.

  • River (Sarah McLachlan)

I wish I had a river I could skate away on
I wish I had a river so long I would teach my feet to fly

This song is real. In the opening lyrics, it reveals that Christmas time is coming, but all she really wants to do is skate away from her troubles and her grief. If you are grieving this Christmas, you may feel this way too.

You can check out our playlist on YouTube and make this your Christmas playlist. Allow the music to flow over you and bring your grief to the surface. Christmas won’t be the same this year. And it’s okay to be sad about it. Accept your emotions as they come and allow the music to give them a voice. This exercise will be one more step toward healing and figuring out what life looks like now.