Rob Voyle's Appreciative Way Blog
Blue Christmas Meditation
Posted: December 12, 2012 by Rob Voyle
Many of you will be leading "Blue Christmas" services for families who have lost loved ones and find the Christmas season a sad rather than a joyful time.
Using the understanding of grief I presented in Restoring Hope: Appreciative Strategies to Resolve Grief and Resentment I have developed a meditation for Blue Christmas services.
You can find the meditation and background instructions at: http://www.clergyleadership.com/hope/BlueChristmasMeditation.pdf
The meditation is designed to help people remember or "put back together in consciousness" their loved one in a way that evokes love and gratitude rather than misery and sadness.
The key strategy in the meditation is based on the understanding that it is not "what" we remember but "how" we remember that determines whether the memory will be distressing or a source of love and well-being.
Jesus gave us the Eucharist to "remember" or put him back together in our minds and lives. This way of remembering him becomes a core resource for many Christians as they go about living and loving in the world. By changing the way people remember their loved ones from distressing memories to memories that evoke love and gratitude we can create memories that provide valuable resources for the person as they live without their loved one's physical presence.
How Do We Want To Remember
The meditation would also be helpful as an exercise to help people "rebuild" their image of a loved one following a difficult death. Often in these situations where family members watch a loved one suffer and waste they will say things like" "this is not how I want to remember them." Unfortunately what happens for many people is when they try to remember their loved one all they "see" in their minds is a large picture of the person suffering which obscures all other memories of the loved one.
In these situations it is not uncommon for 40 or 50 years of great memories to be obscured by one bad memory. The good news is that we can change the way we remember and help the person to regain access to the great memories.
In the exercise we take the troubling images and reduce them is size and intensity. We don't erase them or deny them, for that would be to create a delusional system, but when reduced in size we can place them in the midst of all the other memories, and by doing so their ability to evoke distress will be significantly diminished.
The meditation also deals with the fear of forgetting which is a common obstacle for people top resolve their grief. Enabling people to remember their loved one with love and gratitude rather than not forget them by being miserable, will free them to reengage in those things they find life-giving and begin to create a new preferred future that includes the reality that their loved one is gone.
Please feel free to download the meditation and use it as you will. http://www.clergyleadership.com/hope/BlueChristmasMeditation.pdf
One word of warning: If you know someone who is grieving don't give them the meditation, do the meditation with them. This is not helpful information about grief, it is a very effective process to resolve some of the troubling aspects of grief. To access the benefit they will need to actually "do" do the exercises and not simply "know about" the exercises.
I am continuing to develop my training schedule for next year where you will be able to develop your skill in helping people resolve, grief, resentment. I will keep you posted as the schedule is developed.
With Advent Blessings
The Appreciative Way
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