The holidays are such a hard time for anyone who has lost a loved one. It doesn’t matter if the loss is recent or many years ago, the loss is always felt at the holidays. This loss, the loss that pierces your heart, makes the holidays difficult. There are fewer presents under the tree, less seats around the table, and often others are afraid to mention their name because they don’t want to make you sad.
I have a secret for you. We never forget. Saying their name does not make us sad. It brings us joy. It lets us know you remember too. It’s let us know our loved one is not forgotten. Whether the loss was yesterday or twenty years ago, we still think of them. We remember past Christmases with them. And our hearts hurt because they are not here this holiday season. Saying their name is not going to remind us of their death, instead it reminds us of how much they lived. Sharing stories and laughter keeps their spirit alive and ensures they are never forgotten.
For me, part of keeping Jared’s spirit alive and honoring his life is to continue to live. To move forward. Even at Christmas. Especially at Christmas. Continuing old traditions and starting new ones is a way to bridge my past with my future. On Christmas Eve, my son and I each write a letter to my late husband and put it in his stocking. On Christmas, my son and I will each have a present from heaven under the tree. It’s a gift that Jared would have bought for us. It’s my way to remind my son that his dad is still a part of our Christmas celebration even though he is in heaven. We will share stories of Christmases past and talk about what Jared would think of our new traditions.
For some, it’s hard to see me moving forward, living my best life. They feel as if I’m forgetting Jared, leaving him behind. But nothing could be further from the truth. No matter where or how I celebrate the holidays, Jared will always be a part of them. He will continue to live on as we celebrate our traditions, fill his stocking with love, and say his name.
The holidays can be very difficult for those who have lost a loved one. Include those grieving in your celebrations. If you do nothing else for a grieving friend, say their person’s name! And remember that as those grieving move forward they are not forgetting their past love but instead are honoring them by living their best. The grieved will never forget their person and we hope you don’t either.