CELEBRATING THE HOLIDAYS IN GRIEF is like holding your breath when you dive into a pool: Instinctual, scary and over before you know it.
At different stages the pain changes. Tears fall either way — with delight and while mourning. It would be easy to dread the season because our pain overshadows any hope of a “greeting card” holiday.
Deciding how to make new memories, without forgetting what matters, is challenging.
If we try to maintain some sense of “normal” we aren’t fooling anybody. There is nothing normal about experiencing life’s grandest occasions without your beloved child. There are still traditions to keep and expectations to meet. But you have to force yourself out of bed amid the constant presence of loss. That’s not easy.
Breathing takes effort. Energy that might be better reserved for planning, creating, and enjoying the season, is depleted by the sheer act of existing.
Like it or not, our child died before us, and we will spend the holiday without Charlie. We are broken. Permanently.
There will be beauty, laughter, and joy, but at a cost so great, it means less now than before. The best it will ever get is over forever.
So how do we find holiday joy when we’re completely shattered? How could we?
Maybe the wonder and magic of the holidays will restore our hope. Or, maybe the holidays will remind us how fleeting our chances truly are.
In spite of it all, I choose joy. I know a significant reason I can be joyful in grief is because of the joy that has been shared with me. My faith, our close family, this community, and the continuous support and love from Jacob’s Heart sustains us.
When the world and its unavoidable tragedies seem overwhelming, we must find joy. And by grace, I have.
It gives me hope that we’ll somehow survive the devastation of my son Charlie’s death, and we will someday be together forever in perfect paradise.
Until then, I choose joy in grief, because despite the obliterating sadness of pediatric cancer, we have been given a new day. This is the ultimate gift.