Christmas and grieving don’t fit together. Christmas is supposed to be joyful, lively, cheery, warm, and filled with family and friends. Grief, on the other hand, is a painful, difficult and often lonely journey that can shake you to your core.
The reality is that when you have lost a loved one, grieving becomes an inseparable part of your Christmas celebration and remembrances. For the first year, the death of your loved one will affect your usual family traditions and celebration in many significant ways. Grief is an extended journey, and as you face a second Christmas, then a third, and later ones, too, you realize that the holiday has been changed forever by your loved one’s death. During what used to be among the happiest times of the year, you’re feeling a persistent ache in your heart.
The comforting and wonderful fact is that within Christmas itself lies a powerful way for you to move through your grief. Your memories of Christmases past can soothe your hurt, make the spirit of your loved one present and help you integrate your loss into your life. Here are some suggestions for using your Christmas memories to heal your grief:
• Accept the memories as they come; your first impulse may be to avoid memories altogether. Thoughts of your loved one as part of past holiday festivities may seem nearly unbearable at first.
• Memories point us forward as well as back. Through memory, you evoke the joy you once knew, and remembering helps you heal and travel a healthy grief journey.
• Plan a remembrance ceremony or find a special way of honoring your loved one.
• Share favorite holiday stories or memories with other family members.
• Look at photos or videos from past holidays, do some reminiscing.
• Serve that person’s favorite food or holiday dish.
• Offer a toast; say a prayer or blessing at the start of a family meal.
• Hang a stocking for your loved one; pin a picture on the outside and let family include notes of remembrance to be put in the stocking.
• Hang a special ornament.
• Light a candle at home or in church.
• Adopt a needy family or donate to a favorite charity in your loved one’s memory.
Let your remembrances give you hope that someday you will move through your grieving and know joy once more. Be comforted by the Christmas message of life and grace, and know that your loved one’s spirit endures. Let Christmas be a gift for your grief.
Some content used from “How Christmas Memories Bring Healing to Your Grief” by Karen Katafiasz
The holiday season is especially difficult for family members who have suffered a loss due to the death of someone they loved.
In keeping with the tradition of caring and service within the community, Anderson-McQueen Family Tribute Centers will host our 16th Annual Tree of Memories as a tribute to those who have passed.
We invite you and your family to place a personalized angel ornament, at no cost to you, on our Tree of Memories. We encourage you to write a message, place a picture or decorate the ornaments. We will have complimentary supplies available on location to assist you with personalization.
In addition, Anderson-McQueen offers hand-blown glass commemorative angels that can be purchased in honor of your loved one. Each commemorative glass ornament can be personalized with your loved one’s name, date of birth and date of death.
The commemorative angels are $29.95, or save $5 ($24.95) if purchased by Nov. 15. Net proceeds will benefit The Lupus Foundation of Florida.
Recognizing the important role that pets play in our families, Pet Passages by Anderson-McQueen also offers a complimentary pet angel, as well as our beautiful commemorative glass angel, in memory of our furry friends. Both ornaments will be personalized with your beloved pet’s name and date of death. You may place your complimentary pet ornament on one of our pet trees and take the personalized commemorative angel home to cherish for years to come.
Order your ornaments today via:
Phone: Carole at 727-347-6636
In 2002 when Russ Stoneking was 25, he fell from a sixth floor balcony. “I hit my head on the fourth story balcony and landed in the lobby on polished marble.” His heart stopped beating for one minute and 23 seconds. He broke 74 bones and suffered from a collapsed lung and internal bleeding. Russ was in a coma for two weeks. He was given an 80 percent chance of never walking again and told he’d never regain the use of his right arm. “The first thing I thought of is how am I going to make a living now. I had been a home builder since I was 18 and had no secondary education.”
Over the next year, Russ taught himself to walk again, and function with his left hand. He even went back to school and pursued a degree in architecture, but he did not regain the function of his right arm. His doctor said Russ’s arm had heterotopic ossification, which meant the arm had fused itself at the elbow at a 90-degree angle. Russ taught himself to write, draw and even shave with his left hand. Russ’s condition made social situations awkward because he did not have what he thought was a proper handshake.
In 2008, Russ fell again, but this time he fell deeply in love and wanted to ask for his girlfriend’s hand in marriage. “I wanted to do the honorable thing and ask her father. This undoubtedly meant a handshake. I know this may seem trivial to some, but there is nothing more defining about a first impression than a handshake and a straight look in the eyes. Call it vanity or pride, but I could not ask the father of my future bride for her hand in marriage with a handshake like that. I was deeply in love and would do anything to spend the rest of my life with her.”
Russ set out to get his arm “fixed.” Since the year of Russ’s accident, he learned from his doctor that a new procedure had become available. According to his doctor, it came with it a 15 percent success rate and a year of rehab. Russ wanted to do it. The procedure required a donated Achilles tendon. This surgery had only been done a handful of times and never on someone with a condition like Russ’s. “A donor was found, and three months later, I was standing in front of a man I had never met before asking for his daughter’s hand in marriage, looking him in the eye and reaching out with my right hand.”
Russ has started to remodel homes again, throw baseballs to his nephews, hold babies, write with his right hand and wipe happy tears from his wife’s eyes on their wedding day. “Someone’s loved one gave me a selfless gift, the gift of a second chance.”
Tissue Donation – Offering a Framework for Life
Although it can be a challenging subject, this is an important decision and it’s vital that you make your wishes known. There are several ways you can do this and we are happy to present your options when you’re ready to move forward.
Our years of experience have taught us that people have misconceptions and benefit from learning how life changing this choice can be. The word “tissue” is a broad term that covers everything, except organs, that modern medicine knows how to transplant.
Tissue donation is a gift worth giving. Donated heart valves grow with young patients so that future surgeries may be avoided. Vein grafts restore impaired blood circulation. And cornea transplants allow those with an injured eye to see again.
To ensure that your questions are answered accurately and that all services are done professionally, we have partnered with the Southeast Tissue Alliance (SETA), a nonprofit dedicated for more than 25 years to educating the community about tissue donation and monitoring recovery to comply with government regulations. By working together, Anderson-McQueen and SETA offer the peace of mind you need to comfortably make this incredible gift.