As much as this column celebrates the good news about aging, the reality is that this phase of life also encompasses loss and a lot of grieving. As a gerontologist, I’ve had to learn ways to cope and deal with loss a lot since I encounter a fair share of it.

While the holidays are meant to be a time of festiveness, family, friends, and faith, it is perhaps the latter that is most comforting for those dealing with loss. Yet equally important is for family and friends to be mindful and sensitive to the fact that not everyone feels festive during this time of year and to be respectful.

I, like all of you, have wonderful, fond memories of Christmas holidays shared with family. Particularly growing up in Point Loma, I remember the Christmas light outings up and down Santa Barbara Street, trips to Balboa Park to enjoy the nativity scenes and Rudolph, the lights of the Shelter Island Boat parades, and of course, the Sea World tower. Wonderful meals, laughter, giving, sharing and just celebrating all of us being together.

But this year will be different—and undoubtedly one of the most difficult as it will be the first one without any grandparents – and the first one without my father-in-law, which clearly tells me that loss has come a generation closer, and therefore, the grief a bit more significant. My Nana was 98 when she died this past August, and living such a long life, it’s hard to explain life without her here.

Yet if there’s one thing I’ve learned from dealing with my own personal losses and from others in their losses, it’s the importance of faith – to help make sense of things that don’t. I don’t think there’s ever a good time to lose one you love, but I do believe in good grief.

Is there such a thing? Yes, and it revolves around celebrating one’s life. Certainly the tears, pain and sadness are expected, but this also serves as a tribute to that departed soul. If we didn’t care and love them, then we wouldn’t have these feelings. Better that we miss them, than be glad for their passing. So when we cry and feel sad because they’re no longer here, it is only because they touched us so deeply. This is good grief.

But good grief is also about celebrating our loved one’s life. Rather than be alone to sit and sulk, it’s much healthier to be with others to honor those departed and to remember the joy of the intangible gifts they’ve left us. The funny moments, the wisdom, the caring -- these memories are perhaps the best gifts of all because they can never be taken away.

So as you gather to celebrate the holidays with family and friends, maybe set a place at the table to honor those who’ve crossed over – not to be morbid, but rather to celebrate their life and to include them in memory and spirit and to help all remember that love is eternal – it’s everlasting and that’s something to celebrate.

Kelly Ferrin is a local gerontologist residing in Carlsbad. She is a
certified AARP retirement specialist, motivational speaker, consultant, and
author of a nationally released book titled, “What’s Age Got To Do With
It?” For column ideas contact her at (760)438-2126 or on the internet at
ageangel.com.



Kelly Ferrin is a local gerontologist residing in Carlsbad. She is a certified
AARP retirement specialist, motivational speaker, consultant, and author of a
nationally released book titled, "What's Age Got To Do With It?" For column
ideas contact her at (760)438-2126 or on the internet at ageangel@earthlink.net.
Kelly Ferrin, Gerontologist Lifestyles (760)438-2126 web: http://www.ageangel.com

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