The New Year inspires us to begin anew; to assess how we can start the year in a positive state that will hopefully set the tone for the months ahead. In this frame of mind, I began the morning by dumping my in-box on my desk and sorting through all the items that were not priorities in the busy weeks and months that ended the year.


Buried in the heap was a holiday card from an elderly cousin. It reminded me how important it is to reach out to those who are isolated due to health or mobility issues as well as loss. And what a good time to do just that as January feels so bleak; after the dazzle of the holidays, the stark landscape and cold seem to set in. How can we bring warmth back into the lives of those who are especially vulnerable?


I started by placing a call to elderly cousins who have been homebound due to mobility and vision issues. Notes are no longer appropriate as one cousin has lost her sight. I feel guilty that my visits are infrequent but have found that they appreciate my phone calls and enjoy hearing what I’ve been up to.


My congregation has a caring program and they are always seeking volunteers to provide a meal. An elderly member of my community, who I do not know, fell and broke her arm. She had surgery on the arm and is incapacitated and she lives alone with no family nearby. When a second appeal was sent for meals, I signed up. I know that it will feel good to make a difference in someone’s day.


Another elderly cousin lives far away and I haven’t been in touch in months. It would be easy to jot a note and put it in the mail, but I’m going to take the time today to call. When I’ve called in the past my cousin sounds awful when she answers the phone. But as soon as she hears that it’s me, her voice changes. She loves to hear stories about my family and best of all she calls me “darling,” a family term of affection my grandmother and aunts always used. My cousin is one of the last survivors of that generation and while my calls might make her day, her love comes right through the wire and she makes my day, too.


The fact is, when you give of yourself, you wind up getting as much as you’re giving. What a nice way to start a new year.


Robbie Miller Kaplan is an author who writes from a unique perspective as a mother who has lost two children. She has written How to Say It When You Don't Know What to Say, a guide to help readers communicate effectively when those they care about experience loss, now available in three individual volumes: "Illness & Death," "Suicide" and "Miscarriage." Additional titles are available as e-books: "Death of a Child," "Death of a Stillborn or Newborn Baby," "Pet Loss," "Caregiver Responsibilities," "Divorce" and "Job Loss." All titles are in Amazon's Kindle Store. Click here to order.


Image: Flickr Creative Commons / daoro

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