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And Then There Are Those Of Us Who Are Still Living

ACCORDING TO LIZ - Memorial Day is a federal holiday for mourning the U.S. military personnel who have died while serving their country established in 1868 a few years after the Civil War ended.

With the losses in the two World Wars it became a general day of remembrance.

It evolved from the practice of cleaning and decorating graves of loved ones lost in spring and for many years was known as Decoration Day and it was not until 1967 that Memorial Day was declared the official name. 

It is essential that people appreciate their losses as they move forward to a future as yet unknown 

But this year, the third one in the Covid era, we may also want to honor those who worked in the hospitals and died so others could live. 

Ultimately a memorial day is for the living, those who were left behind, so we should widen it to include not only families who lost loved ones in wars – whether in Korea or Afghanistan or Yemen or Ukraine, but also those who lost children at Sandy Hook an Uvalde, to the families of the over 45 thousand Americans who died due to firearms in 2021, the tens of thousands in every pre-ceding year, those who died of Covid, those who live with long Covid, those who died because we do not have healthcare for all, those who died of neglect on our city streets. 

It’s a day to step back and reflect, mourn our losses and plan to make better choices. 

It’s also a day to mourn for the lives we used to live and let them go. 

It is a time to work on improving our lives as they are now, asking for help and giving hope. 

There are tools we can use ourselves to brighten our days and lighten our load as we address stress from all these changes and burnout from the demands of work and family, the sense of being overwhelmed by so much going so wrong in a world we cannot control. 

Because we can’t control everything, focus on what you can do – one step at a time 

Trust your body, set limits as what is right for you. If you can’t make deadlines, change them. If you aren’t doing well, how can you help others? 

It’s ok to relax and laugh, enjoy the little things – a funny movie, a hummingbird, the sun on your face 

Eat a good diet – for you. Find a good weight – for you.  Exercise – for you. 

Generate some positive endorphins whether by wandering through the woods or by working out, challenge your mind with something interesting, something that will keep you coming back 

Engage with a new hobby or project. Volunteer – meet new people, share your stories appreciate and be appreciated. 

Acknowledge your tension – it’s a natural response to any kind of stress; look to see if meditation or simple breathing exercises can reduce tension or help you manage it 

Disconnect the world – turn off that TV and Twitter feed, take a holiday from well-meaning but energy-sapping family members. Find a safe place and when you emerge, have clear boundaries about what you will and won’t do.  Make it their problem not yours. 

Cook a special meal for friends or just for yourself, you’re worth it. 

Hang out with your pets – they need you too. 

In thinking about all those who have passed on, they will always live on in our hearts and minds.

To everything there is a season, and a time for every purpose under heaven.

For those of us who have lost loved ones think of them as reaching back to you in the words of Mary Elizabeth Frye who penned this in 1932:

Do not stand at my grave and weep
I am not there; I do not sleep.
I am a thousand winds that blow,
I am the diamond glints on snow,
I am the sun on ripened grain,
I am the gentle autumn rain.
When you awaken in the morning's hush
I am the swift uplifting rush
Of quiet birds in circled flight.
I am the soft stars that shine at night.
Do not stand at my grave and cry,
I am not there; I did not die.

(Liz Amsden is a contributor to CityWatch and an activist from Northeast Los Angeles with opinions on much of what goes on in our lives. She has written extensively on the City's budget and services as well as her many other interests and passions. In her real life she works on budgets for film and television where fiction can rarely be as strange as the truth of living in today's world.)