For many of you, this year will be the first year without someone at the Thanksgiving table or around the Christmas tree. There will be a blank spot where your loved one used to be. Amidst all the festivities, there will be pain.
It will be one of many firsts.
In 2007, we spent Thanksgiving at home with just our immediate family for the first time ever. We had a wonderful time cooking up all our favorite treats and letting Emily taste her first ever bite of turkey.
In 2008, Emily was no longer with us, but I could see her everywhere we went that holiday season. Even today, her stocking still hangs on our mantle, empty. Her first Christmas ornament still graces our Christmas tree. Her memory is everywhere in our holiday festivities. And yes, sometimes there are tears because I miss my little fuzzy-headed baby girl.
This year, it is my Grandpa who will be missing. I’m sure we will all laugh and remember as people do when they grieve, but there will be a sadness too because our memories never quite feel like enough.
Today, as one who knows what it is like to grieve through the holidays, I wanted to offer you just a few ideas and resources to ease the pain and create some special traditions that include the memory of your loved one in the holiday festivities.
- Say a prayer. Start your holiday meal with a prayer, thanking God for the life of your loved one and asking for comfort through this difficult season. This acknowledges the hole left by the death of your loved one, but also keeps your heart focused on the Lord as you grieve.
- Remember your loved one by remembering some of the things they loved best about the holidays. Did they have a favorite Christmas hymn? Sing it! Did they have a favorite dish? Make it!
- Create a special ornament for your loved one.
Many companies make ornaments to honor loved ones, like the star we received from AgapeCare Cradle, but you can also make your own. It can be anything from an ornament that is a special color or design that reminds you of your loved one to a small frame with their photo and an ornament hook glued on the back.
- Put a holiday wreath on their grave. Wreaths are our favorite thing to put out at Emmy’s grave. We change them out with the season.
- Read through my free eDevotional Psalms for the Grieving Heart. There is so much healing and comfort in the Psalms.
- Start a new tradition. This is so difficult for grieving families who don’t want to do anything new that does not include their lost loved one, but I have experienced firsthand how good it can be to do something different. It might be something like doing a new Advent devotional or changing where you go for the holidays. Try not to see it as a sad thing, but rather as a way of moving forward (not “moving on”).
All of you who are grieving this holiday season, you have my deepest sympathies and my heartfelt prayers. May you find comfort and peace and hope…blessed hope.
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort those who are in any trouble with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God.
2 Corinthians 1:3-4