Are you in the holiday spirit? I am, but also realize that not everyone feels as good as I do. While most of us tend to think of the holidays as a joyful time of celebration it can be very painful, especially for anyone whose lost a close loved one.
Last week myself, my husband, Mother-in-law and Father-in-law attended a holiday service for my husband’s sister, Marni. Marni passed away unexpectedly a year ago and her passing dealt a crushing blow for my mother-in-law while leaving a big hole in the hearts of everyone in my husband’s family. This is the second Christmas since she’s been gone and in many ways is proving more difficult than last year. The service we attended was held at the funeral home that handled all of my sister-in-law’s arrangements. The ceremony was a comfort and the pastor who addressed the families offered some simple, yet powerful ideas for helping everyone through the holidays.
He suggested that we honor our loved ones with a special holiday tradition. He shared the personal traditions in his own family. To honor his Dad the pastor makes turkey soup, served piping hot because it was his Dad’s favorite thing at Thanksgiving . In honor of his Mom, it’s a piece of memorial pumpkin pie. He shared other examples of how his family keeps their parent’s memory alive through these holiday traditions. Bake the pie, eat the soup, even if no one at the table actually likes what’s being served. During that service we all got up and hung a paper ornament on their Christmas tree and had a moment of silence while we held lit candles. This is a ritual that the funeral home does each year to provide the opportunity to bring a tradition of rememberance into the hearts and minds of those coping with loss.
We plan to keep Marni’s memory alive with pink carnations. Although I’d only met my sister-in-law once, my husband’s family remembers the time Marni brought pink carnations to all of the girls during their annual Christmas Eve dinner. The girls put the flowers in their hair and snapped a photo. It was a very special memory for my Mother-in-law. This year on Christmas day, we’ll be passing out pink carnations once again. We’ll put them in our hair and snap a special photo. Who knows, maybe this photo will become a yearly tradition. We’ll all remember Marni and perhaps find some comfort in this new tradition.
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