Life is full of surprises, ups and downs and curveballs
Just before Christmas I remember listening to a podcast with Petrea King, a grief counsellor – it was about having an empty chair at the table at Christmas time and how some D words impact us more around special times of the year, like Christmas, birthdays, anniversaries…here is the link to the Mamamia No Filter podcast if you’re interested – The Empty Chair at the Christmas Table
The four D words she discussed were depression, divorce, death and diagnosis. This is the blurb on the podcast:
Christmas is often referred to as the most wonderful time of the year. It’s a day that’s meant to be filled with joy and love. But what if you’re not feeling joyful because you’re missing a loved one or you’re dealing with the end of a significant relationship? How do you face the empty chair at the Christmas table?
Petrea King is one of the most respected grief counselors in the country. She’s counseled over 120,000 people living with cancer and other life-challenging illnesses as well as people dealing with grief, loss, trauma, and tragedy through her foundation, Quest For Life.
She knows what’s it’s like to be facing Christmas with a death, diagnosis or divorce looming after she lost her brother to suicide, and received her own diagnosis of a rare form of leukemia.
So what’s her advice on how to navigate Christmas when you’re not feeling joyful?
I was listening to the podcast, mainly for comfort and advice, as in 2018 I lost both my father and my father-in-law and to be honest, Christmas was not looking like a whole lot of fun, despite having a new granddaughter to indulge. I found Petrea’s voice soothing and calming and her approach was just what I needed to hear. I can’t recommend it highly enough.
I felt ready to handle the ‘first’ Christmas without two of my favourite men.
My sister’s call
Around this time I received a call from my sister which hit me like a sledgehammer.
You can read her story here, as it’s her story to tell and she does it so eloquently: Living though not loving the reality
It’s not life-threatening. It’s slow growing. It’s treatable. The outcomes are good.
I feel fortunate.
Wednesday. I called Deb, my sister, in the morning. She told me she’d dreamt about me the previous night and her sleep was so disturbed she’d had to get up and read at 4am, something she never does. If I hadn’t called her, she would have called me. It’s comforting to know our connection is still so strong.
The day I spoke to my sister, I shared this photo of us for the daily photo challenge I was participating in. The prompt was call someone and I had not slept well as I later told my sister. I rarely sleep badly so it felt strange, and I had dreamed of her as well.
I was about to call her when she rang me. We often laugh about our weird sisterly bond but I believe it’s a real ‘thing’ and this was just another example of it.
My sister and I often have a special (or weird) sisterly vibe thing happening. We buy the same clothes despite being hundreds of kms away from each other, we read the same things at the same time, we understand each other when no one else does.
Today, just as I was about to call her for a chat, she rang me. There are so many photos similar to this one, with her looking at me for some reason, I really don’t know why, maybe to see what I’m doing, to copy my reaction, or for some other reason. I chose this photo to represent our connection today. It’s very special to me. We may have grown up since this photo but we’ll always be sisters. Photo from a family wedding in 1965 with me as the flower girl.
This is not about me, but I am involved as Sharon is my sister, my only sister, my younger sister. I will be with her throughout this, either in person or in spirit. She is one tough little cookie but she will need her friends and family around, and never doubt it, we will be there.
My sister will deal with this in her own indomitable way. She’s strong, healthy and positive. I’m trying to be too.
Pop over to read her post, leave her a comment and please wish her well.
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