“Tomorrow I plan to spend time with my family; how can I ever cope?”
This statement is from a young widow with two children whose husband had died early spring. As the family gathered that year, sets of parents, several aunts and uncles, and her children would be present. For her and the entire family this would be a challenging and difficult day. Perhaps you will find yourself in somewhat of a similar situation and you wonder “How can I experience joy when my loved one is no longer here?” Here are some suggestions I have listened to over the years.
First and most important, do not pretend there is nothing wrong. Don’t ignore your grief. Some family members will not want to talk about your deceased loved one, but everyone will be aware of the death. Second, suggest that at some point during the day everyone share some fond memory or memories of the loved one. (Sometimes, if emotions are too tough, these thoughts can be written down and read by someone else.) Third, I don’t know if you have heard of the “empty chair.” Sometimes at the family dinner table an empty chair can be placed in memory of the loved one. This provides a very good time to share some fond memories of meals past or funny incidents of your loved one. Fourth, depending upon your faith journey, and if you are accustomed to a blessing at meals, this would be a memorable time to share of your loved one’s impact on different family members. Fifth, you can encourage not only children, but every one present to make some form of tree decoration as a reminder of Christmas’s past. These decorations can be then hung every year as a new tradition. Finally, it is important to outwardly express love, appreciation or special memories of your loved one. Keep in mind that next year everything will be a little bit easier, the pain will not be as great and you will have experienced personal growth through your journey of grief. – Fran Welch©
“I sought the Lord, and He answered me; He delivered me from all my fears.” (Psalm 34:4)