Bereavement and the Holidays: How to Celebrate When you Don’t Feel Like Celebrating

Often times, we are reminded of our loved ones during the holidays. It is during holidays that, no matter how much we feel we have healed that our bereavement hits the hardest. I remember when my mother passed away; December 21.

Our family was not only sharing in our bereavement but also facing the holidays within days. The adults were in a quandary – grieve or continue with life as we knew it for the sake of our children. I believed that our mom would have wanted us to have Christmas as we had planned, and everyone agreed. She wouldn’t let a little thing like death stop such a joyous time; and so, we decided that, despite our deep loss, we would celebrate Christmas.

I have to say, I entered into that very first Christmas with a lot of trepidation, as I’m sure all the adults did. Would we be able to have a nice Christmas or would we all be weeping and grieving the death of our mother? I had a beef tenderloin in the freezer – a Christmas tradition in our family and one that was purchased well over a month before the day. It was a favorite of all of ours. My mother used cook for us during the holiday and her Christmas dinner was always impeccable. I hoped that I could make it just as memorable at my house.

The truth of the matter, it was a beautiful Christmas. We all enjoyed ourselves immensely! I think it was holding true to our family tradition that helped make that very first Christmas so special. Yes, we missed our mother, but we still managed to have a beautiful evening. Of course, our children missed grandma, as they were going through a period of bereavement as well. For me, the most heartfelt moment was when my youngest son passed me a lap tray that he had lovingly purchased for his sick grandma and said, “What should I do with this?” I assured him that it would be used – that we could keep it and just think of grandma while we used it.

The wake was the day after Christmas. My mother loved poinsettias so I asked the florist to make a table arrangement in the shape of a Christmas tree out of 5 pots of poinsettias; one for each grandchild. On the table, we set out pictures of our mom as a tribute to her life.

It was not an easy holiday season; however, we used that time of celebration to not just celebrate the birth of our Savior but the joining of a beautiful soul in heaven with Him. That year, our Christmas was extremely special as we carried out what we believed our mother would have wanted; a joining together of our family and creating more memories to last a lifetime.

 

 

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