Grief during the holidays: remember them next year

For many people, this is not the “hap hap happiest time of the year.”  They may hang a decoration or two, maybe even wish you holiday cheer; but underneath it all is lingering grief.  2014 was a difficult year.  We said goodbye to grandma, my friend’s sons lost their father, and my childhood friend lost her child to cancer.

stephI think as outsiders we feel helpless to easing their pain because really, we can’t.  So maybe this year we try to do a little more: dropping off holiday cookies, running errands, offering a shoulder to lean on.  We know that this first holiday without them- quite frankly- sucks.

What we often forget, though, is that second year.

I was a kid when my dad died.  I remember that first Christmas felt like everything was just going through the motions.  No amount of gifts, eggnog, or caroling was going to bring back what I most wanted. But we replicated the scene: the same trees, favorite cookies…the stage was the same except for the empty chair.

By the second Christmas, though, nothing was the same.  Our lives had continued. We’d moved. I was a teenager. We realized some of the old traditions weren’t our favorites, and we were creating new ones. I felt caught between yesterday and tomorrow, and no one else was dropping off extra cookies, or acknowledging the empty chair we still saw. grief was by no means gone.  To say time heals all pain is a lie.  It just changes.

Whether this is someone’s first year or 40th year without their loved one, they still remember that empty chair.

Sometimes, though, an extra “we’re thinking of you,” a favorite photo,  or a shared story can make that chair feel a little less empty knowing that memories continue in other’s hearts as well.

Empty Chair photo credit.


4 responses to “Grief during the holidays: remember them next year

  1. Beautifully said. My Mom has been gone for many years, but Christmas will never be the same without her.

  2. Reblogged this on Praying for Eyebrowz and commented:
    This is borrowed from a blogger I follow: Wise words for this time of year.

  3. So so sorry, Stefanie. My dad is one of the most important people in my world. I don’t know what I would do without him. I know this time of year is extra hard, but I’m sure every day for you is hard. Know that I’m sending you a big hug this holiday since we will not see you. Love you and miss you. ❤

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