Why Life Happens With Tears and Life Happens With Laughter and With Knowledge Comes Power to Understand and Cope With Life’s Challenges

Holmes-Rahe-Stress-InventoryWhen I was growing up, if something good happened and I told my Holocaust survivor mother, GG (great-grandmother), she said “pooh, pooh” and made a spitting sound, and said, “don’t give it a kenahora.”  She would remind me that although something good will happen in life, be careful, because something bad is going to follow.  To this day, more than a half century later, although an optimist and a “Pollyanna” always making lemonade from lemons, I am loathe to appreciate the good that happens to me, because I am waiting for the bad to follow. I understand the life is a series of challenges, and how I approach life and deal with the challenges is important.

 Yiddish is a language of Central and Eastern European Jews, and this Grandma did a blog on how the language is very expressive of feelings: Yiddish Words That Will Serve You well In Life and To Transcend Generations From the Past to the Future.

I defined Kenahora in that blog, among other words that I thought could serve us all well in life:

“Kenahora.  Grandma uses this word often when someone says something good has happened,  in a phrase, ‘do not give it a kenahora.”  It is almost like a superstition, that if something good happens, don’t give it a kenahora, because you might jinx the good fortune.  It has been described as “without the evil eye” on another Yiddish word dictionary.”

Talking with professionals recently about divorce and the stress of that life passage event, I realized that there is something that legal and psychological professionals use to determine the impact of such stress on health and wellness that the general public may not know, and we should pass along to the parents of our grandchildren and now, even to our teenage grandchildren.  Most people do not know that there is an actual scale for determination of “life happens with tears and life happens with happiness” and the effect on humans and human behavior.

According to Wikipedia, “the Holmes and Rahe stress scale is a list of 43 stressful life events that can contribute to illness.”  I have intentionally added the entire scale to the end of this post.  You can easily find  The Holmes‑Rahe Stress Inventory on a google search.  I found the The Holmes‑Rahe Stress Inventory on Wikipedia and on the website for the American Institute for Stress.

On the Inventory, you will see that many of the listed life events are happy events.  Many of the life events are sad.  And, many of the life events are both happy and sad at the same time.

We all experience what I call “life passage” events, which are major events in one’s life such as marriage, the birth of a child, divorce or a death.  What I find so interesting about the  Holmes‑Rahe Stress Inventory is that it includes many life events that we would not characterize as major life events, but would clearly be included in what GG would express “don’t give it a kenahora.”

So why should we know about and  pay attention to the Holmes‑Rahe Stress Inventory?  It explains so much about the sayings and writings throughout literary history that say “Life Happens With Tears and Life Happens with Laughter,” and variations of this theme.  How we understand and cope with life’s challenges can contribute to our happiness or cause us stress and illness.

The  Holmes‑Rahe Stress Inventory is based on scientific research of the link between stress, whether caused by happy or sad events, and illness and lack of physical or emotional wellness.  According to Wikipedia, link above, “[T]o measure stress according to the Holmes and Rahe Stress Scale, the number of “Life Change Units” that apply to events in the past year of an individual’s life are added and the final score will give a rough estimate of how stress affects health.”  Each major life change is given a number that shows the stress impact of the change.  Adding up the totals, you see the potential of illness in the final score:

“Score of 300+: At risk of illness.”

“Score of 150‑299: Risk of illness is moderate (reduced by 30% from the above risk).”

“Score <150: Only have a slight risk of illness.”

It would make sense that if you add all the totals and come to a score of 300 or more, some action should be taken to prevent illness and lack of physical or emotional wellness.  As a professional dealing with divorcing parents, I watched for the emotional stages of divorce along with the legal divorce.  I worried about the interplay between those going through the Kubler-Ross emotional stages of: denial; anger; bargaining; depression; and, acceptance (in no specific sequence).  See previous post on Kubler-Ross “five stages of grief” as applied to aging.  I worried about the impact upon the children of their parents’ going through the anger stage or sadness stage.  I worried about the impact of one parent in denial and one parent in moving forward (acceptance), because I knew the denial would end and sadness and anger would follow, causing conflict detrimental to a child of divorce.  I used The  Holmes‑Rahe Stress Inventory with divorcing parents, to help them recognize that they might need individual counseling, family counseling or marriage counseling, to assist them through and ease the way of  the emotional divorce, in the best interests of their children.

What I did not know, but learned on Wikipedia, is that there is now a scale for teenagers!  Wouldn’t the parents of teenagers, as well as professionals working with parents of teenagers or working with teenagers like to know that!  It is wonderful to keep learning at age 70.  Here is the link to the Wikipedia site that includes the a “modified scale has also been developed for non‑adults. Similar to the adult scale, stress points for life events in the past year are added and compared to the rough estimate of how stress affects health.”

We grandmas so appreciate each life passage event with our grandchildren.  We mark their birthdays, their confirmations, their Bar Matzvahs, their weddings, and share the joy of those events.  We know that life passage events, the rituals and traditions of life, are important to creating memories and a family history.  We grandmas not only appreciate being part of that history, we appreciate that we have lived long enough to experience the life passage event of those we love. We want to help when life’s challenges seem too great to overcome.  We know about life.

Through the experience of living a long life (we never say old), we know so much about living life and the list on the Inventory.  Each of us matures thinking that we are unusual and what happens to us is so different than what happens to others.  I know I wish I knew as a young adult what I know now! The Holmes‑Rahe Stress Inventory gives us a roadmap of understanding that life is a series of challenges, and both happy events and sad events can impact our health and wellness.

Knowledge is power.  If we find ourselves at a high risk of ill health and wellness detrimentally impacted, we can seek medical and psychological help to carry us through. As experienced Grandmas, this is where we can help our grandchildren.  We can recognize the stresses in their parents’ and their lives and help them through life’s challenges, good and bad.  We know good events, such as our children leaving home and us becoming empty nesters, contains both good and bad life challenges.  We now even have a chart to refer to for stresses in the lives of our children and grandchildren and we can know when we should intervene and let them know about the charts.

I am amazed at the power of knowledge.  Pass this knowledge of The  Holmes‑Rahe Stress Inventory and this post.  We grandmas like to help our grandchildren and ease their way through life and helping the parents of our grandchildren helps the grandchildren.





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