Well…here we are again; another day that for many is a major holiday. It feels like it really was not that long ago that we were bombarded with the November/December holiday army that decended on us! Perhaps this is the first holiday since your child, sibling, grandchild, or other loved one died. Whether you are a new griever or a longtime one, or the holiday is Passover or Easter, Christmas or Hanukkah, Halloween or the 4th of July, we never forget that a loved one is missing from our family gatherings. No matter the days, months or years since they left us much too soon, it is always difficult.
This time of year, my family celebrates Easter. I remember the busyness of those Easter weekends…last minute shopping for something I forgot for one of my children’s Easter outfits…freaking out that I didn’t have enough can for their baskets and running from store to store to find everything horribly picked over; trying to find clever hiding places for them (not too hard for the little ones or too easy for the older ones who weren’t ready to give up “believing” in the Easter Bunny so they could still get candy); getting up early to watch said children find them; rushing around getting all of us ready for church, and cooking an Easter dinner for 25…it was chaotic and crazy and I was exhausted by the time everyone left. And, though I wouldn’t have believed it at the time, I miss it and would do it all over again in a heartbeat! I didn’t know then that I would look back at those days with longing…when our family was complete, before the unthinkable happened and Nina died suddenly and then Chris some years later. Those days of innocence gone forever…never to spend another holiday happening with all of our children together ever again…
As the years have gone on, I now try to remember a holiday memory that makes me smile. This is not always easy, especially early on. But in time the good memories become easier to find. You may find that hard to believe, no matter where you are in your personal grief journey. I know I thought the same…but it really did happen.” For example, right now I am thinking about the fact that Nina just loved those awful marshmallow Peeps…they almost make your teeth hurt they were so full of sugar! She was the only one who liked them so I bought them especially for her. She liked when they got hard on the outside but still soft in the middle. To me, they were the yuckiest of Easter treats! But not to her…she loved them! I thought about how she would have gotten a kick out of the Peeps diorama contest held through our capital city’s newspaper, the St. Paul Pioneer Press...or maybe she would have thought it was a waste of a lot of good Peeps that could have been eaten : ) Anyway, thinking about that made me smile. If Easter is your springtime holiday, someday you too will think of things from Easter’s past that makes you smile too.
Now, Easter is more than just bunnies, dying eggs and filling Easter baskets to our family. I remember the first year after Nina’s death that I really thought–probably for the first time in a very long time–about what I felt was the true meaning of Easter. At least, what it meant to my family and myself. And because of that, Easter became, for us, a holiday of hope. We believe that the promise of Easter was that we would see Nina, Chris, Mom, and all our other loved ones again, who are now gone from our sight but never our hearts. It doesn’t mean that we don’t miss them fiercely and wish they were here. We will always want them here with us; that our unthinkable losses had never happened! It just means that, down the road, the “awfulness” we felt earlier on our grief journey very gradually has lost some of the power it held over us.
May a time come soon that your memories bring more sunshine than rain, more smiles than tears. Though there will still be some bitter lingering with the sweet, you will eventually find reasons–in your own time, no matter how long it takes– to remember the love and the laughter too.
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