By Melanie Kreifels, SWSM Managing Editor

This time of year can be hard for many. Autumn is my favorite season, but for some it’s a sad reminder that the season of warm summer days and socially distanced backyard BBQ’s have officially come to an end.  

Life can be stressful. And, with all that 2020 has brought us, many women are overwhelmed dealing with various degrees of anxiety, depression, and even grief.  There are several different types of grief. Maybe you’re grieving that life as we knew has changed drastically. Or, that the holiday season is just around the corner and family gatherings, thanks to COVID-19, will have to look very different. It’s also possible that you’ve lost someone important to you. Many struggle with loss of a loved one during the holidays and with Thanksgiving just weeks away I would like to share some of my experience with grief. 

We all know that woman. You know the one who can transform something old into something wonderful and make the messy process look seamless…that was my mother.  She left this earth on October 13, 1983, when I was 10 years old, after a lengthy illness with cancer.  I knew she was something special when I was young but as I near the age she was when she died, I reflect on what made her who she was and cherish her from a different perspective.  I rest in believing I will see her again someday and know it will be a sweet reunion.  One of my mother’s gifts and she had so many, was restoring old weathered antiques to a beautiful piece again and she was restoring things before it was chic.  My siblings and I proudly display many of her precious pieces in our homes.  

As a little girl, I remember my mom working on a project into the darkness of night, refinishing a dresser.  She would first strip the paint. I still remember the smell as she scraped each layer away searching for bare wood.  Stroke by stroke the paint would curl up and find its way to the floor.  After letting the dresser dry from the stripping process, the sanding would begin, creating a dust with its own stench.  After sanding and wiping the piece down you could begin to see a faint wood grain of what was to come, but still pale in comparison.  When the varnish was wiped onto the dresser for the first time the wood grains literally came alive.  There were grooves and cracks you couldn’t see until the varnish revealed them as they were now visible on the surface.

This is how grief works…most keep it buried while saying “I’m ok” to the world around them. Likewise, grief might manifest as anger, which causes odd-shaped grooves, scrapes, and fractures in the person who is carrying it.  We need the same care that my mother gave to restoring that dresser. And just like the dresser we become the most beautiful when we can let our scars show.  We don’t lose our value either.  On the contrary, those scars not only increase our value, but they carry you through the hard times that will come again.  This year, allow yourself to wear those extra layers of frustration and pain. Only then will you find the freedom that comes by remembering the depth of your worth.   May this holiday season bring you peace and contentment beyond the challenges of 2020.