Jump to content
Grief Healing Discussion Groups

Christmas Letter 2009

Recommended Posts

Hello my Dear Friends,

Below you will find my Christmas 2009 letter that I send to family and friends. Each year I also pass it along to you as well - my grief site family.

I have not been engaged in this site for a few months, but I still regularly read the postings. I can tell from these postings that there are many broken hearts that have joined our ranks during the past year, and it always breaks my heart to know that this grief process is just beginning for someone else.

To those new folks who do not know me - my profile is here to read along with some old postings that are still floating around this site. At the end of this posting are links to my web site as well, along with information regarding a book I wrote to help me heal from the loss of my partner. My web site and book are there to help others. Please visit this site if you wish.

My Christmas letter this year are a combination of my own words along with references to the book written by Mitch Albom called "For One More Day." My own thoughts and feelings are intertwined with verbiage from a publication called "Wings" and an article called "Even This Santa Gives Thanks," written by an individual named Nan Zastrow following the death of her son Chad.

I think more than anything I want to make sure all those new grieving souls on this site remember that you can and will survive your loss. I am here as living proof that you can survive - as long as you make that decision to survive. Please read my Christmas letter - from beginning to end. I hope - it brings you hope. My Christmas Letter is my gift to you - here it is:

Christmas 2009 - "Life is a Gift - Make It Worthy"

In the opening paragraph of Mitch Albom's book entitled, "For One More Day" he says, "... every family is a ghost story ... the dead sit at our tables long after they have gone." The reality of these words visits us all - eventually. The book explores the question, "What would you do if you could spend one more day with a lost loved one?" For me the more interesting question would be "What do you do with your life after you have spent one more day with your lost loved one?" This latter question - I have answered. The former remains an unattainable wish - reachable only in my dreams or in the passages of Mitch Albom's book. In this season of peace - I have made peace with death and the grief surrounding death. I have found peace in my life. "Life is a gift - make it worthy." Here is how I did it.

This is my fifth Christmas without Jack; the sixth without Dusky; the third without my father; and the first without my mother - who died in October. Christmas is a time to remember and give thanks. I remember and give thanks every day, every hour of my life for what each of these beautiful lives meant to me when they were part of my everyday existence. On special occasions - I still wear his ring, on a chain around my neck.

In this season of seasons, I feel blessed. Life is a gif. And I have been empowered to make it worthy. For my dear, Jack, the gift of life was far too brief - and my time with him briefer. Yet there are many who have lost those they loved at an even younger age. So I am lucky - thankful and grateful for the 27 years I had with Jack. For Dusky his life was long in "dog years" yet briefer than Jack's life. My parents lives' were long, and for this I am thankful. When a twinge of pain reminds me of Jacks brief time on this earth I remind myself of the quotation by Bertha Damon that says, " Beauty that dies the soonest has the longest life. Because it cannot keep itself for a day, we keep it forever. Because it can have existence only in memory, we give it immortality there." That always makes me feel better.

The five living beings, at the core of what I called my family, are now all gone. Yet I am still blessed to have my two sisters Cate and Barbara in my life along with my "almost" sister Judy, my two friends David and David, and my new partner Ray. It has been five holiday seasons since my first Christmas without Jack and I've never been able to return to the popularity the holiday once had. My heart goes out to those who in this past year have lost loved ones. I can visualize what their holiday will be like. There is an overriding sense of pain that hangs over the merriment that others feel. It stifles the comfort of music, takes the fun out of tradition, and causes major guilt at the thought of laughter. Grief and Ebenezer Scrooge make good bedfellows.

I realize only now what an important element of the holidays our loved ones are. Jack, along with Dusky and my parents, were the special elements that put thankfulness into Thanksgiving, happy in Birthday and merry into Christmas. I am grateful for these memories. It's hard to believe I'm facing my fifth Christmas without Jack - and now the first without my mother.

That first holiday after his death, my heart ached with every thought of celebration. I couldn't find a way to celebrate anything that would bring me comfort. I tried all the things one is supposed to do to cope with the approaching holidays, but nothing seemed right. I had no idea how to deal with holidays in the midst of dealing with grief. It's no wonder that by the time the holidays arrived my anxiety level had peaked. All I wanted to do was to get it over with! I didn't make a very good Santa that year. I couldn't care less if I shopped. I could not find peace. I cried through every ornament I would see. I was a Santa that had no reason to give thanks.

I was miserable by choice. I was angry at god - that I was not even sure I believed in - for allowing my life to take such a turn. I felt sorry for myself; and I wanted everyone to feel my pain. I still felt disbelief that Jack's death had even occurred. I couldn't see the joy of the present moment; I was too busy feeling the wounds of the past. And try as I did to deny it - the reality was there, when he was not there on Christmas 2005. Then Jack's son moved away in 2006 with Jack's granddaughters - and another piece of Jack vanished.

We choose our paths, our attitudes, or our misfortunes. We make the choices; and sometimes, life just happens! It's easy to give thanks when life is splendid. But giving thanks when life faces dark moments is a priceless message of trust.

Today, with certainty, I can say, "Facing the holidays does get better and it does get a little easier." The anticipation of my reaction on the first holiday without Jack was much greater than the actual emotion I felt. Maybe I cried myself out before the holidays ever came. However, for a brief time every holiday season, the nagging pain of Christmas past beckons at my door reminding me of where I've been and where I am today.

Overcoming the desperation of grief takes work. Facing each and every holiday is a necessary part towards healing the pain. I discovered long ago that I couldn't run away from the pain, nor hide the reality of inevitable change. All I could do was adjust my attitude and change my state of mind. I had to face up to the question, "What am I going to do with the rest of my life" Instead of fighting life - because of Jack's death - and all the death and separation that followed his death - I decided to live it!

Along with deciding to live it, there came choices. I wouldn't be at the point in my grief where I am today if I hadn't made a choice to survive. I'm finding new ways of bringing hope back into a small part of the world - which puts some meaning back into Christmas for me. I'm convinced that when we put happiness into the present moment, and live for that present moment, we put reason back into this season as well.

I chose to help others understand their feelings when the holidays hurt. I chose to offer help for anyone grieving. I chose to make myself available to others who may need some assistance in overcoming the loss of a partner. I chose to help organizations that help others who are in pain - in time & money. I chose to write a book that speaks from experience and speaks from the heart.

In the darkness of the journey through grief, there are some shining lights. I have made peace with the past and chased away those who could not comprehend pain associated with losing a mate. I have changed because of my experience. Today the sun shines on me, and through me.

In spite of my grief, I have been truly blessed. As the year comes to an end and the holidays approach, I am focusing on my successes and those blessings I sometimes take for granted. I am blessed because I could choose my attitude and my choices gave me new options. That doesn't make it any easier. I still miss the things I'll never have, but I don't ponder on them anymore. I look for richness in something else: the return of winter in the desert, the companionship of those who care, the quiet moments, and new experiences. Who knows what lies ahead? I am blessed with family and friends who value my commitments. How easy it is to get wrapped up in something you believe in. And just as easily such commitments can be misinterpreted by "outsiders" who don't understand. I have family and friends that support me beyond a shadow of a doubt and make it easy for me to do what I find value in doing.

I am blessed by the gift of writing and I've found a way to use this gift effectively. I've always wanted to write, but didn't have anything worth writing about. Jack's death was not the driving force I would have desired to motivate me to write, but it happened. I think Jack would be proud of me. I am blessed with a healthy mind, body, and spirit. I am blessed with the gift of a new day each morning. My life is full. I have created purpose; and this purpose gives me reason to get up everyday and a reason to smile. In this season of seasons, I feel blessed. Life is a gift. And I have been empowered to make it worthy. For Jack the gift of life was far too brief. But in the brevity of those 56 years, he lived and touched the lives of many. Most of all, he touched mine. His death uncovered my weaknesses, but the spirit of his being has brought out the music in my soul.

My "new" or changed traditions are consistent with my heart. I'm enjoying people and relationships because they are meaningful. I'm taking time to reflect. I remind myself that it's okay to yearn for the past, but only momentarily. On special occasions - I still wear his ring, on a chain around my neck. There is much to do in the present. Christmas past-ornaments remind me of my family who have died and gone before me. Sparkling message of guardian angels. Stars of hope. Bells of joy. They are silent chorus of beautiful memories - the greatest present of all. With all this to be grateful for ... I wish you each a Merry Christmas .... With Love ...


Link to comment
Share on other sites

Thank you John

I am one of the 'newies' on this site that you write about. One of those with a heart heavy filled with pain and dread at the thought of the weeks ahead.

Your letter has much to ponder and speaks to me of the now and of how I might better frame my future. Thank you. I needed these words. I will re-read them many times. I appreciate your very meaningful gift...Susie Q

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now
  • Create New...