Lately I've come to see avoidance can create anxiety, so I decided to face the upset more head on. The morning of Christmas Eve, I was at Mum's house as usual and after a restless night, I went down to the kitchen where I found my nephew and nieces already up and writing and drawing at the table. Mum was still in bed, which made it the perfect moment.
'Hey kids,' I said. 'This is our last Christmas here, so how about you each write something about your memories of this house so we have a keepsake for your grandma?'
'What a great idea!' said my oldest niece, Rose. (How I love children for their enthusiasm!)
'What sort of thing?' asked my middle niece, Polly.
'Anything you like,' I said, not wanting to limit their imaginations. 'Perhaps we could put everything together and make Grandma a big card for her birthday.'
Hours of poem-writing and storytelling, drawing and printing out photos from the computer ensued. We ended up filling not just a card, but an entire scrapbook.
On Christmas Day the children presented my mother with her gift. It was packed full of memories, just like the house, and it finished with a double page spread full of positive messages about her move and their excitement about her new home. Best of all, unlike the house, she can take the book with her.
But perhaps I, more than anyone, learned a valuable lesson that day. Endings don't need to be run from. They can be acknowledged, even celebrated. Spookily, as we focused on the book, I felt my own anxiety evaporate. And, like mist clearing from a valley, it revealed a clearer view of the changes ahead. I'd go so far as to say the prospect of 2014's upheaval is less frightening as a result. So next time you feel inclined to avoid a funeral or dump someone by text, perhaps it's worth considering if you might behave differently. Like me, you might be surprised how therapeutic happy endings can be.
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