As I have loved you, love one another. This new commandment: Love one another. By this shall all [men] know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another. John 13:34-35
While researchers at the Annenberg Public Policy Center recently disproved the myth that suicides spike during the holiday season, many Americans still feel a sense of loneliness and despair during the holiday season. Particularly among African Americans, the feelings of grief or despair go unrecognized and unanswered. Mental Health America, an organization championing the diagnosis and treatment of common mental health issues, suggests that many factors contribute to the blahs. Top among them are “stress, fatigue, unrealistic expectations,
over-commercialization, financial constraints, and the inability to be with one’s family and friends.”
Last modified on Wednesday, 22 December 2010 03:04
Separation from family and friends during the holidays is chief among the blahs for millions. Some have been separated from loved ones by death and spend the holiday season being reminded of the emptiness caused by a relative’s absence. And irrespective of what others believe, some grief has no end. The loss of parents, children and those who passed suddenly during the year can make a season posited a “family holiday” unbearable for years.
Others, like the thousands of college students unable to travel home for the holidays, will face the holidays alone, due to inclement weather or finances. Many of us survived Christmas breaks in near-deserted dorms with cold sandwiches and chips from the campus cafeteria, and watching marathon holiday episodes of Martin or The Cosby Show. We kept boxes of Kleenex at the ready when this particular reality of college life made itself known.
Many more of us though, had college advisors and campus friends whose families welcomed us into their homes. Others visited the elderly and the sick and shut-in so that they understood that their families reached far and beyond their bloodlines. These acts of kindness were blessings we never forgot and became more precious than material gifts. This year, open your home to a college student or person you know is far from home and without their family. Give them food, but also give them comfort. Provide a space where someone who is grieving the loss of loved ones can talk openly about their memories. Be the ear, the shoulder, and the helping hand someone else needs to get through the season.