The truth of celebration is there often is a bittersweet element to it. Someone may be missing this year in the celebration. The last Christmas my family had with my husband was spent at the hospital and at home.

We had a Christmas tree at both locations. The children were nine and seven. Christmas morning the children woke up to presents under the tree and stockings filled as the three of us experienced our first Christmas without Dad with us. Later that morning, we went to the hospital with gifts and he had the gifts I’d purchased he would give to them. There was joy mixed with the sadness that we all were aware this was the last time.

The Rest of the Story

What has happened since that Christmas in 1979 you ask? How did we make the holiday’s happy even though the loss seemed so great?

Here is what I want to share with you. There is not a reader today that has not experienced some loss which has affected subsequent celebrations. The choice how to celebrate is what becomes relevant.

Do you choose to remember the circumstances of the loss OR do you create new memories encompassing the good memories of the past. Our choice was to remember the life of my children’s Dad not the death.

The memories my children still have of their father have not left them and I encourage them to recall those days during our celebrations. I add stories they do not remember, pieces of history about him before they were born. Today it includes sharing these stories with my grandchildren present.

Another family I know has everyone at their celebration write a short anecdote to add to a memory book of celebrations each year. With today’s technology, some creative ways to create these anecdotes include picture pages to tell the stories.

Memory Loss

It can seem difficult when a member of your family is experiencing memory loss with Alzhiemers, Parkinsons, or any kind of dementia. I’d like to encourage you to stay in the moment and enjoy the now of the celebrations remembering that is exactly how your loved one is experiencing their life. They are in the moment of living the experience.

Think about it. We hear a lot about living our lives in the present. That’s exactly how these loved ones are living. So live with them in that joy of the present. The good food, the wrappings, the laughter, and most of all the love you will give. You cannot give a better gift to the one who you love than to include them in the celebration of the moments you are sharing that day.

Fill the hole by honoring the memory of your loss by creating new memories while sharing some of the good memories of the past.

(This is an excerpt from Maralene’s soon to be published book, Passing Legacy Forward)

(c)Maralene Strom, All Rights Reserved 12/06

Maralene Strom is a speaker and author who teaches on topics dealing with grief and recovery;Issues of living life 50 & Beyond; Caregiving in extended care facilities, home care, and special needs; Communicating with Empathy & Compassion. Her website features some of the topics she speaks on with information to connect with her for tele-classes, workshops or speaking to groups, conferences, etc.—- let her help you discover your life’s meaning as you journey now and into your future.
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