Mind Matters: The light and the dark

When this column is published, it will be Christmas Eve. Not everyone celebrates this holiday, but even so, many cultures and faiths celebrate this time of year in the Northern Hemisphere when we experience the most darkness. So all the various festivals of lights push against this darkness with the hope of both spiritual light and natural light returning to earth.

Christmas and holidays that are to bring families together are often fraught with difficulties. We may remember past holidays where an alcoholic parent may have toppled into the tree, or worse, gotten into a rage.

Others may have grown up in divorced households or live in one now where the celebrations must be divided between households. Others may find this time of year especially difficult as they remember loved ones who have died.

It does not help to ignore our sad feelings at Christmas. In fact it is best to honor and acknowledge them in some way.

In truth, I am reflecting on my own sadness this holiday. This is the first year in a while that I have unearthed all the ornaments of the past Christmases: those made by my children as well as ornaments given to us by my mother, especially the ones with her grandchildren’s photos.

I decided it was time to bequeath these precious gems to my children before I die. So I’ve been sorting and choosing who should get these ornaments so that they can start placing them on their own trees. There is sadness with this process: the passage of time is etched in these personal treasures.

As it is, this has been a monumental year of change for me and for my spouse. For 30 years we lived in Chadds Ford, so this Christmas in a new place marks both a beginning and an end.

Admittedly, I mourn the end of the Chadds Ford era, where our children were raised from the time they were 5 and 7. I miss the Sunoco station Christmas Eve celebration, the lights of Longwood, the walks at Winterthur, the trains and trees at the Brandywine River Museum, Hank’s Place, our friends and neighbors. What a truly amazing place it has been to raise a family and have a private practice too.

Yes, therapists, whose trade is grief, mourn too. Yet I know I must honor my grief and keep reminding myself of the proverb I’ve said to others so many times: “When the heart grieves for what it has lost, the soul rejoices in what it has found.”

My soul already rejoices in my granddaughter. So I keep remembering — this is why I am here.

* Kayta Curzie Gajdos holds a doctorate in counseling psychology and is in private practice in Chadds Ford, Pennsylvania. She welcomes comments at MindMatters@DrGajdos.com. Past columns are posted to www.drgajdos.com. See book.quietwisdom-loudtimes.com for information about her book, “Quiet Wisdom in Loud Times: The Rise of the Wounded Feminine.”

** The opinions expressed are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of the ownership or management of Chadds Ford Live. We welcome opposing viewpoints. Readers may comment in the comments section or they may submit a Letter to the Editor to: editor@chaddsfordlive.com


About Kayta Gajdos

Dr. Kathleen Curzie Gajdos ("Kayta") is a licensed psychologist (Pennsylvania and Delaware) who has worked with individuals, couples, and families with a spectrum of problems. She has experience and training in the fields of alcohol and drug addictions, hypnosis, family therapy, Jungian theory, Gestalt therapy, EMDR, and bereavement. Dr. Gajdos developed a private practice in the Pittsburgh area, and was affiliated with the Family Therapy Institute of Western Psychiatric Institute and Clinic, having written numerous articles for the Family Therapy Newsletter there. She has published in the American Psychological Association Bulletin, the Family Psychologist, and in the Swedenborgian publications, Chrysalis and The Messenger. Dr. Gajdos has taught at the college level, most recently for West Chester University and Wilmington College, and has served as field faculty for Vermont College of Norwich University the Union Institute's Center for Distance Learning, Cincinnati, Ohio. She has also served as consulting psychologist to the Irene Stacy Community MH/MR Center in Western Pennsylvania where she supervised psychologists in training. Currently active in disaster relief, Dr. Gajdos serves with the American Red Cross and participated in Hurricane Katrina relief efforts as a member of teams from the Department of Health and Human Services' Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration.Now living in Chadds Ford, in the Brandywine Valley of eastern Pennsylvania, Dr. Gajdos combines her private practice working with individuals, couples and families, with leading workshops on such topics as grief and healing, the impact of multigenerational grief and trauma shame, the shadow and self, Women Who Run with the Wolves, motherless daughters, and mediation and relaxation. Each year at Temenos Retreat Center in West Chester, PA she leads a griefs of birthing ritual for those who have suffered losses of procreation (abortions, miscarriages, infertility, etc.); she also holds yearly A Day of Re-Collection at Temenos.Dr. Gajdos holds Master's degrees in both philosophy and clinical psychology and received her Ph.D. in counseling at the University of Pittsburgh. Among her professional affiliations, she includes having been a founding member and board member of the C.G. Jung Educational Center of Pittsburgh, as well as being listed in Who's Who of American Women. Currently, she is a member of the American Psychological Association, The Pennsylvania Psychological Association, the Delaware Psychological Association, the American Family Therapy Academy, The Association for Death Education and Counseling, and the Delaware County Mental Health and Mental Retardation Board. Woven into her professional career are Dr. Gajdos' pursuits of dancing, singing, and writing poetry.



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