There is no good time to lose someone you love, but close to the holidays, grief has a sharper edge. Excitement is in the air like electricity as people bustle around preparing for visits by relatives and warm, family times, and for some there is a huge hole in the gathering.
People deal with that fact of life and death in different ways,. For us, the year that Mom Miller died just before Christmas, we all put on a smiling face and carried on with the normal family traditions. We tried to soothe our aching hearts with the knowledge that she had lived a long, wonderful life, and she had been more than ready to go to heaven for ten years. And surely she would want us all to enjoy our holidays and not let sadness over her death put a damper on that.
Mom sure loved a party.
That thinking worked just fine for a while, but the next summer when we took a trip, the grief took another stab at us. Mom had left us a little bit of money, so my husband and I used it to make a road trip from Texas to Michigan, and then take my mother to Makinaw Island for lunch at the Grand Hotel. My mother, sister and I had made several trips to the island in years past, and Mother would sit outside the hotel and say how much she wished she could afford to go inside. (Our meager vacation funds would never cover the admission charge for going on the grounds of the hotel.)
So I talked my husband into splurging part of our inheritance on lunch for my mother, my sister, and the two of us. I told him it would be one of the finest gifts we could give my mother, so he agreed.
When we were seated at an exquisitely set table with fine linen, silver and crystal, we raised a glass in toast to Mom, thanking her for the gift of this wonderful experience, and it was a bittersweet moment. I was thrilled for my mother who was actually flirting with her personal waiter and loving every moment of being treated like royalty, but I was also experiencing an overwhelming sense of loss. I had started to think of how much Mom would enjoy something like this and had to remind myself that it was an experience we would never share.
Having to remind ourselves that someone is really gone is a normal part of the grieving process, but knowing that didn’t make it hurt any less. At least not then. It took a few years for the pain to subside, and today, it hurts a little less when I remind myself that I won’t be buying a Christmas gift for Mom again this year.
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