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There are general expectations most of us have of life. We expect to celebrate anniversaries when we marry. We expect to celebrate high school and college graduations once all criteria have been met. We expect to gather to honor and mourn our dearly departed. We expect to gather to celebrate a new life, a new love, a new job, a new year. Today, many are mourning the loss of well-earned, long-awaited celebrations, some of which are milestones of life. A milestone is a significant event in one’s life. Often a milestone marks the start of a new chapter. For example, the day you graduated from high school was a milestone in your life and in the life of your parents. “Milestone” literally refers to a roadside sign that marks the distance to a particular location. Milestones symbolize that we are on a particular path, towards a particular future. When we gather to celebrate milestones, we validate and acknowledge the success and achievement of that individual. There can be a huge let-down and void experienced by the individual who is denied the ability to have that long-awaited celebration or to have the support of others during a time of loss.
As a therapist and coach, I assist individuals towards empowerment during periods when they feel completely powerless. We can best experience empowerment by mindfully focusing our mind, body, and spirit. As believers in Christ, we can bring our sense of loss without shame to the foot of the cross in prayer. We need not fear His judgment or push aside our feelings of disappointment, sadness, or even anger at the sense of our loss. Christ is fully aware of all our human emotions. In our time of prayer, singularly and with others, we can seek out creative ways to fulfill the emptiness that can impact our attitudes and spirit during a time such as this where COVID-19 regulations and restrictions severely curtail our daily routines and dreams.
How do we look for ways to celebrate, commemorate, and validate milestones during restrictive gathering laws?
First: identify what exactly the individual believes about their unrealized milestone marker.
Second: identify what the individual feels about their unrealized milestone marker.
We can use these identifying factors to unstick ourselves of negativity and creatively produce new ways to celebrate, acknowledge, and validate milestones. For example, for new births, birthdays, graduations, and anniversaries, journals can be made from contributions from friends and loved ones that are thematic and personalized. These commemorative journals can be read and re-read. Memory books with pictures and stories can be collaborated as well for those who are experiencing grief. Themed Zoom parties can be coordinated with gifts, stories, music, food, etc., for the Sweet-16-year-old, the 21-year old, the pregnant mommy-to-be, and the young man going into the military. Invitations for people to contribute may also provide an opportunity to connect with and/or heal relationships and provide a sense of meaning and purpose to those who live alone. You get the idea. In other words, we can empower ourselves to tip the balance towards a more positive outlook for ourselves and others when we pray, intentionally re-focus and take creative action.
I will close with this thought:
It is during times of struggle that we can best grow emotionally, spiritually, and mentally.
Take this time for yourself and others to search for opportunities to tip the scale towards a more peaceful, positive attitude of your present and future.
Until next week!
Dr. Marie Yvette Hernandez-Seltz is the founder of Candescent Counseling, Consulting & Coaching. She holds a Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology and an M.S. in Industrial/Organizational Psychology. She has spent the past 15 years studying self-esteem, self-confidence, responsibility, and the effects of environment and culture on the individual.