Grace For The Holiday Griever (Part 2 of 3)

December 11, 2017


Part 2: Honoring Your Loved One With Grace

We got the Christmas boxes down from the attic and started unpacking. A surge of emotion hit as I pulled out our four stockings (Doug, Kristin, Sydney, and Jenson).

It was our first Christmas without our son Jenson, and it flashed me back to our first dinner out after he passed away.

“How many in your party?” the hostess innocently asked.

I felt a huge lump in my throat as I quietly said, “Three.” I couldn’t stop thinking, “It’s supposed to be four. We are a family of four.”

I sat staring at our four stockings trying to decide what to do next. I couldn’t spend the next month looking at three stockings on the mantel – the grief felt far too raw. I decided to hang all four (at least for this first year).

But what should I do with Jenson’s stocking on Christmas morning? An empty stocking would give the emptiness of grief a stronger foothold.

Grief paralysis started to set in.

I took a deep breathe and decided this whole stocking dilemma needed a re-frame. A way to turn something negative into a bright spot. But how?

By honoring his memory and allowing it to live on.

We placed several monkeys in Jenson’s stocking that Christmas morning. Monkeys always held a special place in Jenson’s heart. Before he passed away, we started sending monkeys and smiles to other Histiocytosis families (Jenson’s idea which we could call Monkey Grins).

Jenson’s stocking would be filled with monkeys that year and in the years to come. Monkeys with a purpose of brightening other people’s lives the way he brightened ours.

Navigating the grief of losing your loved one during the holidays is challenging on a good day and downright all consuming on a bad one.

“Death leaves a heartache no one can heal, love leaves a memory no one can steal.”

– Quote from an Irish headstone

So how can you honor your departed loved one this holiday season?

Allow their memory to live on.

Find that personal thing that uniquely honors them. And then keep it alive. Allow it to warm other people’s hearts too.

Maybe your loved one loved coffee, and you surprise the person behind you in the drive thru line by paying it forward. Or maybe it’s a donation to their favorite non-profit that cares for rescued animals since they always had an avid love for animals. Or perhaps it’s going as a family to volunteer at a retirement home because your loved one cared deeply about the elderly.

Whatever that thing is, just do it (as Nike would say). Swoosh.

You’ll be pleasantly surprised at how honoring their memory soothes your grieving heart too.

PS: Don’t miss Part 3 of 3 in this series “Grace for the Holiday Griever” on receiving grace this holiday season. Subscribe here.

Categories: Beauty Courage Family grace Grief healing holidays Love Transformation
Tags: blog, christmasgrief, grace, gracefortheholidaygriever, grief, histiocytosis, honoringtheirmemory, kristinaaron, memory, monkeygrins, monkeys, stocking,

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