The weather is gearing up, the stores are busy overstocking for the season of holiday celebrations approaching.
As you plan out your feasts and decorations and guests, sit back for a moment and look around you. There is a child grieving a mother, a sibling grieving a brother, a mother grieving a child. While the rest of the world is a flurry of anticipation and excitement, there is a heavy ache in the hearts of the homes where a chair will sit empty this holiday.
The celebrations of family and love hold moments of heart-wrench for those who have a loved one no longer present in the gathering. Look around you this season, I know you will find one of those hearts; the one that sits quiet in the crowd, that listens with eyes closed to the laughter, wondering how things would have been; the one who avoids the holiday aisles altogether. Reach out. Be brave, extend your love, and risk touching a shattered heart in a way they desperately needed.
The first Thanksgiving and Christmas after burying Ellianna were the hardest. Well, they all have been in different ways, but that first one… the first time I realized there would be no gift shopping, no cooking her favorites, no tiny traced hand prints on Thanksgiving turkeys… well that was the toughest; a holiday season I never dared to imagine.
Much of the facade faded away. Suddenly the decorations and the perfect Pinterest meal weren’t what my mind lingered on; it was simply the being with the ones I loved. It became a season of wanting deep memories; the slowing of sweet everyday moments. I could care less if we make a turkey and all the fixings, or just drag ourselves to feast at Golden Corral; the importance is our souls meeting each other wherever we’re at, reveling in each other’s company, savoring the joy of knowing you are making a memory that will long outlast the pumpkin pie.
This is the first time my family will celebrate without my little brother. There will be heartache when his name isn’t in the secret Christmas gift drawing, there will be sadness when he isn’t standing there in a ridiculous apron with a fresh baked batch of “kitchen trash” in his hands. What there will be is a coming together of the hearts that love him, miss him, and remember to stop and say “I love you” on this day, this moment.
There is something you can do for the grieving hearts around you. For many, this is their first holiday season without a cherished person in their lives, and it’s not just in death, it can be a child experiencing their first holidays having to split time between mom’s house and dad’s house, a wife whose husband has chosen another place to live, and yes, the mourning heart that has stood at the grave of someone they held dear. Send them a card, let them know you are thinking of them and how things will be different this year. Give them a sweet ornament with their loved one’s name on it. Invite them to your celebration so they aren’t sitting at home grieving theirs. Sign them up for a holiday cheer box (read about it here). It means a lot. In a season where delight and festivity spill from everything around us, there is a pain that you can help soothe.
Let me know how you’re reaching out, I’d love to hear where your hearts are reaching!