In our family, Easter is a time to gather and celebrate the Good News. Our last blog focused on the challenges often associated with holidays along with some suggestions for making the day less stressful.
We are happy to report that our Easter celebration was wonderful. We had our sons, several of their friends, Jan’s sister, and two extra dogs for the afternoon. At times it could have been a bit hectic, however by following some of our own suggestions the day went quite well.
As the day went on, Tony made his choices based on how he was feeling and what he wanted to do at the time. Since there were a few basketball games on TV as well as a good movie, he had some quiet time in our lower family room. Most of the guests remained upstairs where goodies were arranged for munching and chatting.
Since the weather was warm with plenty of sunshine, after dinner everyone took a long walk, working off some calories and getting the four-legged visitors out for some exercise. Just being outside in the open air was very therapeutic. It is amazing how calming nature can be in normalizing an otherwise busy gathering.
The evening ended with playing our traditional family games which can be quite loud and annoying for some. So Tony once again spent some quiet time reading and watching March Madness.
What is important is that everyone had a good time, had plentiful opportunities to engage in a variety of activities, and made choices that were appropriate for each person. Long ago we stopped apologizing for any person who decides to make an alternative choice for the day. Each person is responsible for him/herself and each person has permission to do what is best for him/her anytime during the celebrations. By reducing unnecessary expectations, the large gatherings go much smoother.
We are so blessed to be able to spend quality time with family and friends. It is important, therefore, that these special occasions turn out to be special because of the good things that occur, instead of some outburst that will be remembered miserably.
Congratulations family! We made it perfectly through another holiday.
-by Janet J. Seahorn
Gosh, can you believe it is Easter/Passover and once again families gather to celebrate the spirit of the season. Many will also hunt Easter eggs, gorge on chocolate bunnies, and enjoy family dinner and getting together. This is a time to rejoice, but can also be a time of turmoil. There is ample opportunity for our Snotty Vets to practice breathing, self-control, and “looking” cheerful – even if it’s only a facade. Today I woke with the children’s rhyme of “Here Comes Peter Cotton Tale”, but instead of the regular words this is what came to mind:
Here comes Peter Cotton Tail
Hopping down the combat trail,
Hippity, Hoppity, Demons on the way.
Yikes! How weird is that! Yet, the reality is many people who have suffered severe trauma find holidays incredibly challenging. When everyone around appears to be laughing, enjoying company, having a great time, for some with experiences of trauma, all this joy may simply exacerbate the feeling of depression and isolation. You desperately want to join in the festivities and you desperately want to feel normal. So the downward spiral continues.
Last blog I wrote about Snotty Fish and Snotty Vets. In reflection I remembered past family gatherings where my Snotty Vet tried anxiously to fit into the interactions. He participated gallantly until it got to be too much, which is when the teapot began to spout. Too much steam building in a confined container and something has to give. If only we had known about PTSD, its effects and ways of coping, family gatherings could have been much saner and safer for everyone.
Therefore, here are a few suggestions that have worked for us. We discovered these over many years of observing roller-coaster emotions.
- Don’t try and force your Snotty Vet to participate more than he/she is able.
- Allow them to swim in whatever pond helps them to feel safe and calm.
- Plan the loud festivities that can be annoying for many – not just Snotty Vets – to be in places that are outside or in very large surroundings. By being smart, it reduces the tension and permits everyone a chance to find areas that aren’t so irritating.
- Be thoughtful about the length of time anyone has to spend taking part in the activities.
- Be sure to find a good balance in how you celebrate. Be reflective and enjoy some quiet time as well.
Oh, and be sure to have a Happy Easter/Passover. Celebrations are still important to cherish. They can be the occasions that help us bond more tightly and even heal a bit.
And be sure to be kind to bunnies that wear combat boots.