This is the second Christmas season without my dad. I intended to write many blog posts between Thanksgiving and Christmas, but to be honest, I just haven’t been in the writing mood.
Many people say that the second holiday season without a loved one is the hardest, and now I completely agree. Last year, Christmas came five months after my dad’s suicide and the reality of this permanence hadn’t set in for me yet. Sure, I knew that my dad was gone forever but I was honestly still in shock. It takes time for the frozen feeling of grief to melt and then you are left with a puddle of sadness for all that will never be.
“It takes time for the frozen feeling of grief to melt and then you are left with a puddle of sadness for all that will never be.”
Fast forward a year later, everything this Christmas season reminds me of my dad and it is a lot to handle emotionally.
The Grinch? We watched that together.
Taking Blake sledding? My dad will never get to see that pure joy on my son’s face.
Making my dad’s favorite holiday recipes? Wow – I never thought that I would be the one making them at the young age of 30.
Although I try to be positive and make the most out of a terrible situation, I admit, there are times that are pretty unbearable. Oftentimes, I carry my dad and this sadness with me everywhere I go—I can feel the heartache in every corner of my being, and deep down in my soul. I think expressing these feelings with others is really important, because it may look like I have it all together on the outside, but on the inside I am absolutely devastated.
“I can feel the heartache in every corner of my being, and deep down in my soul. I think expressing these feelings with others is really important, because it may look like I have it all together on the outside, but on the inside I am absolutely devastated.”
I thought I had so many more Christmases left with my dad. And now I don’t.
To comfort myself, I recently have been thinking about what Christmas must be like in Heaven. I am sure it is an extraordinary event, and I think about my dad sitting around a table of all our lost loved ones with so much peace and joy. I think about that image when I start to feel sad.
On Friday, I went to lunch with my dear friend Alyssa. It was so great to catch up about our careers, children, and life in general. At the end of our lunch, she handed me a Christmas present and I did the same. I drove home, got back to work, and then a couple hours later I remembered that I hadn’t opened my gift yet.
As I pulled out the tissue paper, I saw a red lantern, and I thought “Wow, this is so nice and festive!” Then, I turned the lantern around and discovered that there was a little Christmas tree, packages, a rocking chair and a candle inside.
Then, I burst into tears.
And keep in mind, I probably hadn’t cried in a month. I have just been in a place where I have been so frozen in grief that even my tears were icy.
“I have just been in a place where I have been so frozen in grief that even my tears were icy.”
On the lantern, Alyssa inscribed a beautiful poem about Christmas in Heaven. She is so creatively talented, and made this lantern all my herself. I was so touched by her thoughtfulness and generosity. I will cherish this lantern for the rest of my life, and I am so grateful for Alyssa, her friendship, and her Godly heart.
The Poem Inscribed on the Lantern
Christmas in Heaven
What do they do?
They come down to earth to spend it with you.
So leave them a seat,
Just one empty chair.
You may not see them,
But they will be there.
My Christmas Wish for You
If you are grieving the loss of a loved one this Christmas, I pray that God is near to help you carry on traditions that keep your loved one’s memory alive. I pray that you find comfort in family and friends, and that you can lean on one another during the ups and downs of the holiday season. And when those inevitable tears come, I hope that you can be vulnerable enough to embrace the tears and realize that it takes strength to admit when we are weak. And I hope that we always remember that although our loved ones are gone, they still exist in a happy, more peaceful state with God, yet are always connected to us through love.