As the weather turns, many of us dread the thought of the upcoming holidays.  Perhaps it marks another year without our dearly missed loved one.  It forces social gatherings upon us and maybe even uncomfortable discussions regarding our lost loved ones.  This year, my Dad’s birthday actually falls on Thanksgiving.  I lost him to cancer in 2008 and my Thanksgivings haven’t been the same since.

I realized this last year that I have to accept they are not going to be the same.  It was time for me to let go of my expectation that my Dad will be there at the table as in the past and accept that, if I’m lucky, he might be there in spirit instead.

It is true that family is the foundation of the holidays and although things have changed it is important to be grateful for those who are left sitting around the table and to celebrate precious memories of the ones who may be there in spirit.

It is important to cherish the heavenly memories of your loved ones from seasons past especially during the holidays! Family traditions bring comfort and sooth aching souls. At first, it might seem like you are just going through the motions, feeling numb, but eventually your mind, body and spirit will come together. This unity will embrace the custom and add your own sense of vitality to it.

Would you like to honor your child’s life in a new way? If so, you can gift yourself and your family a virtual memorial at the website, Valley of Life, This interactive site offers support and a forum to privately or publicly create a life story. Allow this process to unlock your pain and comfort your heart; share your photos and precious memories with a virtual community eager to welcome you and celebrate your loved ones life.

Awaken your heart with the joy reminiscent of past festivities you’ve shared. Allow this warmth to linger within and then convey these feelings into the universe regardless of your beliefs of the afterlife. What feels right in the moment is honorable and this tribute, old or new, will continue to keep your connection with them alive during the holidays and all year long!

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Kathryn Williams Raths

I have always had creative threads of inspirations in my life. I can fall into an oil pastel drawing like the average person falls into a good book. It is a grounding process, allowing me to lose myself in my work, lose track of time and escape the pressures of everyday life. Unfortunately, I have not spent much of my life devoting time to my heart's desire; writing and exploring my creative impulses. I'm a single mom first and I've been a full-time employee in the business world for over the past 20 years. I’ve earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Business Management and an Associate’s Degree in Applied Science. I live in the cornfields of Ypsilanti with my 2 sons, who are thirteen and fourteen, and my boyfriend, a wonderful man whom inspires and supports my dreams. During 2008, I had some life-altering experiences which have given me a new perspective and enabled me to reprioritize my responsibilities. I lost my father and my job, both of which I devoted much love and energy to and truly treasured. In the aftermath of my father's death, I reached deep within my core and wrote my book, What Can I Say When Words Escape Me, being present during times of sorrow. I can only hope these words of encouragement and nature photos touch your heart and up lift and hug your soul as they have for me. I currently write for the, Detroit market as a Healthy Living Reporter, I'm grateful for my life's journey thus far and thankful for a nurturing, fulfilling future that enables me to reach out and help others struggling with hardship.

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