Tag Archives: christmas

Grief at the holidays


Whenever I learn of someone’s passing during the holiday season, I feel an extra pang of sympathy. Losing a loved one at any time of the year is devastating, of course. But there is something about loss during a period of such joy for others that is particularly painful.

Today it has been eight years since my father’s death. So much has happened since then, yet it’s still hard to believe that it has been so long since his passing. I remember how odd the Christmas decorations and Christmas music blaring everywhere seemed to be after I learned the news of my father’s passing. It’s a tough lesson to learn in such a fragile state: the world goes on without your loved one.

If you find yourself grieving this holiday season, cut yourself some slack. Don’t feel obligated to put on a happy front. There are many others just like you who feel conflicted emotions during this time of year. Hopefully over time, some happier memories will filter in through the grief. If you know someone who has lost someone during the holidays, reach out to them and offer your support.

I hope you and your loved ones have a holiday filled with peace and love.

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Happy holidays


Mom and Dad at Christmas, circa mid-1980s.

The holidays can be stressful for caregivers, but they also offer moments of magic and the potential to create memories that you will cherish for the rest of your life.

I hope that you enjoy the time spent with family and other loved ones over the holidays. For those of us remembering those who have departed, it can be a comfort to reflect upon happy moments and favorite memories.

And if you feel yourself being overworked or stressed out, don’t be shy about asking for help!

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Never too old to love Santa

Santa Claus

Julia Freeman-Woolpert/Freeimages

Ever since my father died five days before Christmas in 2011, the holiday season has been bittersweet for me. He also spent Thanksgiving of that year in the hospital, so both holidays are associated with sickness and death.

But each year, there are stories that reinforce the wonder of the holiday season and lift my spirits.

The story about a lovely woman named Karen, who has dementia but has maintained her lifelong love of Santa Claus, is one of those uplifting stories.

As Karen has moved into the latter stages of dementia and was recently placed in hospice care, her family made the wise decision to capture a beautiful holiday moment that her family will treasure for generations to come.

If you click through on the Facebook post above, you can read the entire story behind the photo shoot. I love the fact that Karen has a Santa doll and speaks Japanese to it!

Of course, not everyone with dementia reacts to holidays in a positive fashion, so it’s best to follow their lead. But don’t be afraid to indulge in some good old-fashioned fun this holiday season. We can all learn a lesson from Karen and her family.



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Merry Christmas memories

I hope everyone has a peaceful, love-filled holiday. Make those moments count with those who mean the most to you.


For those of us dealing with loss, the holiday season is bittersweet. This year, I bought a tabletop tree, and decorated it with Christmas ornaments from my childhood. My family always had a tabletop tree, because we lived in an apartment that didn’t have room for a big tree.

It didn’t matter to me that the tree was small and fake, I loved the magic of Christmas as a child. My parents worked hard to make the holidays special for me, and I am grateful I have those happy memories.

Happy holidays to all. Stay warm and safe, and enjoy the precious moments with loved ones.


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A bittersweet Christmas week, with gift of hope

This week was a double whammy for me, as not only did I mark the fourth anniversary of my father’s death on Dec. 20th, yesterday marked seven months since Mom died. Somber anniversaries just before Christmas.

mom final xmas card

Mom’s last Christmas card to me.

While I think of my parents daily, I honestly let the 20th slip by without officially marking my father’s death anniversary. Four years out, there is naturally some healing and closure. I know this will eventually happen with how I feel about my mom as well.

Just after Christmas, I am paying my father tribute by visiting New Orleans. I will be taking the train, one of my dad’s favorite modes of transportation (after a boat.) I will be staying at the Roosevelt Hotel where my dad worked for a brief time.

My dad never provided a great deal of detail about his time in New Orleans, but when he did speak of the city, he spoke of it fondly. I’ve been once before, but was just passing through. I look forward to reconnect with one of my dad’s old stomping grounds, when he was a young and carefree man.

I also hope that being “stuck” on the train will free up time for me to focus on writing.

For the other bloggers out there dealing with loss or illness this holiday season, I send along thoughts of peace and comfort.


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Tree of memories

Each year, it seems that there is another memorial ornament to hang on the Christmas tree.

Welcome to middle age, I guess.

Xmas tree 2015

The top of this year’s tree is loaded with memorial ornaments and pet collars of departed pets. While the sheer number of the dearly departed is a bit shocking, I don’t mind that the Christmas tree has become a memorial tree of sorts.

It’s a nice way to reflect on those we shared so many holidays with, and who will always hold a special place in our hearts.

Do you hang memorial ornaments or otherwise honor the departed during your holiday celebrations?


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Christmas doesn’t have to be perfect

I know many of you out there are celebrating a less-than-ideal holiday. You may be visiting your loved ones in a care center. They may not be able to communicate with family anymore.

Or like me, you may be grieving the loss of a loved one today.


But as many of you have illustrated on your own blogs, wallowing in pity will not make the holiday season any brighter. While it takes effort, we must find ways to appreciate what we do have, and cherish the happy memories with those who have departed.

No day is perfect, just like no person is perfect. But every day and every person is special, if we only take the time to seek out the good.

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to you and your family.


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