We need all the good luck we can get
In a nice episode of the British TV series "Downton Abby" there is a big wedding. At the reception a young woman and man are chatting, and it appears to be a budding romance.
She wishes him good luck with his new business but adds, "Of course you don't need luck." He replies, "Everyone needs luck." Later when the bride throws her bouquet for the single women to catch, that very woman caught the bouquet! Tradition says the woman who catches it is the next to be married.
Well, I also think we all need a bit of luck. Mixed with effort, persistence, good decisions and, of course, hard work.
I also think it's true, to some extent, that we make our own luck by building relationships, following wise advice, extending ourselves to others, and sometimes we just get a break and pursue it.
In grief, and especially when coping with long-term grief, we are very vulnerable, face lots of challenges, and need all the "breaks " we can get.
I have little charms hanging in discreet places about the house and am glad for any good luck they bring my way.
Baheej collected such charms from all over the world, and we traveled to many countries. Seems every culture has some charms and beliefs about what behaviors or actions lead to good luck, or bad luck.
I shared this interest in good luck charms with my dear Baheej and so we have them from Japan, China, Morocco, Greece, Lapland, The Holy Land … many places.
In Japan they also write good luck wishes on little pieces of paper and hang them at the entrance of the temples. Sometimes the good luck charm is a little eggplant in Japan; or a decorative wooden carving with red tassels in China; or a blue-and-white bead for protection in Greece, Morocco, Italy, and the Holy Land; or a ceramic bulb of garlic to ward off evil; or a symbol carved in a piece of white reindeer antler in Lapland.
Charms for good luck and those for protection are often mixed together.
Good luck charms and rituals are also often mixed with religion or spiritual beliefs. For instance, growing up in Nazareth, Baheej said the Christians and Muslims cooperated in rituals and shared some good luck charms.
For instance, there was a practice where people put henna (a bright reddish brown dye) on the palm of their hand and went to St. Mary's well to ask for a wish, or a piece of good luck. They placed their hennaed hand on the hennaed wall, making an imprint, asking for help. People of both faiths did this.
Another example -- when rain was desperately needed, they marched together down the center of town in a ritual parade drumming loudly to beckon rain. People helped each other, and relied on all sources available to increase their own good fortune.
So the point is -- you can never have enough good luck! Do what you can cultivate it and bring it to you, and to others.
There is a true saying: "What comes around goes around." This is so true, and good deeds do come back to you.
So extend yourself to your bereaved friends and family members, and remember that, for many, just because it has been six months or a couple years since the death of the beloved, that doesn't mean the grief is over.
• Susan Anderson-Khleif of Sleepy Hollow has a Ph.D. in family sociology from Harvard, taught at Wellesley College, and is a retired Motorola executive. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org or see her blog longtermgrief.tumblr.com. See previous columns at www.dailyherald.com/topics/Anderson-Kleif-Susan/.