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Wednesday December 23, 2015

Q. How can I celebrate and be festive during Christmas when I have lost a loved one this year?

A. Each year, I am amazed at the hustle and bustle of the holiday season. The older I get, the more I recognize that our society is in such a state of rush, we miss out on “just being.” We miss out on the reminiscing of yesteryears. My parents grew up in an era where the music of Bing Crosby and Bob Hope always rang in the Christmas season. Today, as we become more and more modernized, we pack away those times spent “just being” and reminiscing. Instead, it is replaced with holiday parties, and more and more shopping. Each year, the to-do list becomes longer and longer.

So, where does that leave those who don’t feel like being festive because the one who was the “glue” of the family for the holidays, or the one who loved Christmas so much, is now spending their first Christmas in Heaven?

First, it is important to recognize the true meaning of Christmas and that it is not about the tree, the lights, the hustle and bustle, or the glitz and glimmer of the holiday season. It is about a very small Light that came into our world, that stilted the darkness. It is about the Light that came to bring life and defeated the sting of death. It is about being with family, in a time that discourages traditional values and celebrating home—which is more than just a place, it is a feeling of being in a sacred place that you experience as you laugh together, cry together and love together.

It helps to reminisce about your loved one, the joy that they found in the true meaning of Christmas, and the togetherness that they harnessed this season for family and friends who were near and dear to them. It becomes a time to continue or establish new traditions, in honor of your loved one, that can be passed down to future generations. It becomes a time to establish boundaries of what activities you enjoy and those that truly hold no meaning for you. It is a time to look back at the years and not just weep over the loss but rejoice that the very Light that came into our world 2,000 years ago still brings life to those who acknowledge the true hope and meaning of Christmas. It is a time to celebrate the love and memories that you hold in your heart—for isn’t that what Christmas is truly all about anyway? Not the gifts, but the One who is the gift-giver.

May you experience peace and comfort this season, knowing that there is still hope in the One born in a manger and that your loved one rests in that Light.

―Saundra Yates, Bereavement Coordinator/Chaplain (Mount Airy, NC)

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Tags: Grief Support