[ WordBytes for Bereavement ]
It’s very normal and strongly tempting to quit or reduce celebrating a holiday, such as Christmas, that can no longer be the same because a loved one will be missing. Is it right to celebrate after a dear one has passed away? Let’s turn the question around and ask: Is the loved one really missing, or is he/she still part of the holiday?
My Dad passed away earlier this year. My family has been trying to figure out how to handle the holidays. The feeling is that we should not do much. I’ve been trying to share with them that we need to remember that Christmas is Jesus’ birthday. Dad loved Christmas and he would not want us to quit celebrating and giving gifts to each other. I also told them that Dad would be sad if he thought we were sad.
My Dad, in his own way, has confirmed this. I was visiting a woman who needed to talk about the death of a friend by heart attack. She did not remember my Dad, and I felt it was not the time for me to speak of my own loss.
As I was getting ready to leave, she thanked me for coming and then said, “I have a gift for you.” She held out for me a hand-carved figurine of the Blessed Mother, Joseph and the manger. She said she had placed a plastic Jesus in the manger so it would look more like Christmas. As I left, I realized that the Lord and my Dad were giving me something very special! Through this woman’s thoughtfulness, they were saying to me, “What is Christmas without Jesus?”
While grieving, we tend to think: “Christmas is not Christmas if Dad is not here.” In truth, Christmas is not Christmas if Jesus is not here. And when Jesus is the reason we celebrate the holiday, He is also the reason we are still united with our loved ones. We still celebrating the true meaning of Christmas together!
© 1998 by Rosie Bridges with Terry Modica
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Handling the Holidays After Loss
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