When your child dies, the holidays quickly lose their luster. The entire spectrum of lights is muted to a dull gray, while the endless barrage of seasonal music only brings out the blues. When you combine that with freezing temperatures and the whirlwind of activities, it can lead to treacherous living conditions. Additionally, a string of silent nights bring neither comfort nor joy.

I spend a tremendous amount of time and effort during the holidays trying to block out the past and ignore the present. Why? Because all the great memories reiterate how much I have lost. But without them, what would I have to reflect upon?

It often leaves me feeling so unstable that a single word, note or thought can send me careening down the slippery slope of grief.

Because we no longer have children at home, and have no grandkids to date, we choose not to celebrate at all. Every day is much like the next and the last. In fact, every month is full of wonderfully painful memories. I try to remind myself that it’s not the season nor a date that I deplore; it’s the absence of my son.

So, when I look at the barren trees and ice covered lakes,  I try to remember the promise of spring and the rebirth of the forests. Perhaps the bitter cold of winter is just a reminder that death is merely a transition while the nature of life is to flourish eternally.



John French

My name is John French. I was born in January of 1968. I own and operate a small remodeling company in Highland, MI. My wife Michelle and I married very young and we celebrated our 20th anniversary in May of 2009. We had two amazing children: Veronica, who is 20, and Brandon, who was 17. We worked very hard to build a life that would afford us the luxury of giving them all the things we never had, including a stable home, committed loving parents and every material thing imaginable (within the means of a middle class family, I should add). Over the last few years, it seemed we had finally arrived, and living was easy. Then Brandon passed away in August of 2009 from an undiagnosed heart condition. The devastation of that one single moment has crushed our view of reality and cast us down into a state of perpetual winter. I’ve been writing all my life, though not publically. Brandon’s death has so overwhelmed me that I can no longer contain my thoughts. Although my stance is undermined by despair, and frosted by the bitterness that follows the loss of my son, I will labor to plant some seeds of promise in the barren future that I'm so unexpectedly tilling. Perhaps something beneficial will stem from my mourning. If you can gather even a grain of hope from my reaping, it may help to sustain you through your own emotional storm.

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