It’s just something about the holiday season that makes me feel all warm and what not. I’m usually not one for the mushy stuff but seriously, the winter holiday season has a way of giving me a good feeling. I love Christmas-y smelling candles, glasses of sparkling cider, an array of baked deserts, and playing taboo with family members who need to expand their vocabulary. This has been the routine with my family for some years now. I’d spent Christmas Eve with my father’s side of the family and Christmas day with my mother’s side of the family. As my father’s mom got older, she would start to spend Christmas with my mother’s side. Having both of my grandmother’s in the same room for the holidays was more of a gift than I once thought, considering I would only have a few holidays like this.
Since May of 2014, I’ve attended 7 funerals, all of which were family members. Those who know me well are more than aware of the type of season my family has had and we are just now getting some reprieve. I lost one grandmother in May of 2014 and lost my other grandmother this past May: almost a year to the day. In between, I’ve lost 2 aunts, a great-aunt, and two cousins. My family stayed in the church bulletin for prayer requests. Holidays would grow more and more awkward as us surviving family members would try our hardest to make the best of the time we had with each other, but we couldn’t help but to acknowledge that there were empty seats at the table. That happy holiday feeling became more of an effort to maintain.
Even with that said, there was a rather strange peace that came with the absence of these family members; More specifically, my grandmothers. Don’t get me wrong, I miss them greatly but because of my faith and because of the faith that they had, I know they are okay. My admiration for them actually grew because they were able to live a fulfilled life so much so, that they were able to come to terms with death long before it was to happen.
Death is a very strange concept. It’s one of those things we all know is permanent and we all know we will experience one day, but we hate discussing. We hate the idea of knowing that it’s so permanent; that we could be leaving loved ones behind; that we won’t be able to finish something we desire to accomplish. As uncomfortable as the conversation can be, if we took a little more time to understand the concept, maybe we could have a little more peace in the mourning and grieving of our loved ones.
“We are confident, I say, and willing rather to be absent from the body, and to be present with the Lord” -2 Corinthians 5:8
Grieving over lost loved ones happens at any time of the year but again, something about the holiday season that makes it a little more heavy. Even with the loss of the matriarchs of my family, I am still blessed to have my parents and other family members that do an awesome job at making sure traditions are still carried on. No one will ever be able to replace them, but they for sure wouldn’t want us harboring over their absence. I am aware that everyone is not able to spend holidays with their parents and the loss of a loved one could be more of a tragedy than a loss, but as long as we are still here, it is vital to seek out & maintain our own peace.
This holiday season, consider those who have lost someone whether recently or not to long ago. Reach out, make a phone call to show you were thinking of them, invite them over to be with you and your family. Acknowledge that these family oriented seasons may be a little harder to get through than the average day.
And for those of us who are still mourning, don’t feel you have to be done grieving by a certain time. Don’t let anyone give you a cap on how much time you should be grieving. Have your time, but don’t get stuck there. Stay prayed up and keep your focus on the positive memories you had with these family members while they were here.
For life is given but never guaranteed, so in and out of season, make it count.