Losing a parent is never easy, no matter the circumstance or what segment of time in your life the loss occurred. The grief softens, but never leaves us. When holidays roll around, it is always a painful reminder of the hole in our hearts. The days without our mother or father are emphasized during their birthdays, and holidays like Christmas, Mother’s Day and Father’s Day. After years of spending those times with heartache, I decided to manifest comfort and joy into those times by honoring my parents, instead of grieving them.
We must first remember the connection to our loved ones is never broken because of death. Remembering and speaking about them is a true honor to those who have passed. They know our love and know the pain that fills our lives with emptiness during times that are meant to bring joy and happiness. Choose to consciously live your life in their honor. Talk about their great qualities with others. Pray to them. I know this seems so unassuming, but they hear our cries and our joy, and try to help us as much as they can. They want us to live the rest of our time on earth without worry and sorrow. Our words do not go unnoticed. Find peace in that alone.
Keep a journal of special memories you shared with your mother or father. Talk about their favorite times in their lives, ones that made them the happiest or even their times of sadness. Write down specific events or words of encouragement they offered you during times of conflict. Describe how they handled times of sorrow or pain. Share this journal with your children, especially if they were not fortunate to know them personally.
Make an annual tradition of planting their favorite flower, plant a tree on their birthday or their favorite holiday. Involve your children in this tradition, so it gets passed on from generation to generation.
Create a private space in your home with pictures of them, things they loved or items they wore, frame old birthday cards they sent to you, or personal notes they wrote to on special occasions. For example, in one of my personal spaces, I have framed pictures of my father in his army uniform, his purple heart he earned in the Korean war, tiny little wooden Korean dolls he brought back from his time in Korea, a framed telegraph letter from the army stating his injury, pictures of him with my children, and the picture of him walking me down the aisle at my wedding. So the memory of who he was lives on in my mind every time my family and I walk pass the area in my home.
My children never had the honor of meeting my mother – she passed away when I was twelve. I talk about her as much as I can, and take out the pictures of her to keep her memory alive. We also find time to watch family videos, so they get a glimpse of how beautiful she was.
At times, it can be difficult to be so vulnerable, but together we can face grief. Too often, we wish to diminish the pain, but instead we must teach ourselves how to celebrate the family members we have lost – particularly around the holidays and special times throughout the year.