You’re not alone during the holiday season

The holiday season can be challenging for some, especially for those who are missing and grieving their loved ones. It’s the time of year where sadness and loneliness set in, as you think about family, togetherness and holiday traditions.

How you honor and remember your loved one is based on your individual journey and walk in life. We all have a unique story within us, so I reached out to 7 individuals and asked them to share a special memory of their loved one and a new or existing tradition they hold close, during the holiday season.

There is no wrong or right way to cope with grief.  I hope the traditions and conversations below will provide you with ideas to create meaningful ways to remember your loved one, during difficult and challenging times.

Photo taken by Sweta Meininger

Photo taken by Sweta Meininger

Mom’s spirit is in the kitchen (2 years gone, but not forgotten)

Written by Sandra from North Carolina

My mom made an amazing chocolate sheet cake. The Christmas before her passing, she showed me and my boys how to make her famous chocolate cake.  She guided me step by step through the process which in most cases, there were no measurements.  She even allowed my boys to videotape her making the cake, which I can't watch til this day.   My family and I have continued the tradition of making her chocolate cake during the holiday season and it turns out amazing every time.  It's like her spirit is in the kitchen with us, making sure we add the right touch of ingredients.  

Treasured moments of Mom & Dad (4 years and 25 years gone respectively, but not forgotten)

Written by Monica from Pennsylvania

My mother was a very sweet woman and was a social butterfly. She treated everyone like family and anyone who met her loved her.  However, there were those times when she would drive my father and I completely NUTS. When she would travel (which she did often), my dad and I would willingly offer to drive her to the airport!!!  As soon as we dropped her off at the airport, it was Daddy - Daughter date night.  We would go to our favorite burger joint, Big Boys, and have dinner.  It was our special time and most of these moments were captured in photos. I inherited all of the family photo albums.  My mom was always picture perfect and my dad was always smiling.  I enjoy looking at old photos and telling my daughter about her grandparents.  It's a way for me to keep their memories alive. 

Gramps Christmas tradition (2 years gone, but not forgotten)

Written by Jimmie from North Carolina

Imagine …..Christmas gift bags all lined up against the fireplace, by age of the grandchild. Christmas morning is when the fun and yelling would begin.  My dad would yell for each grandchild to open their gifts and I would sit there in disbelief, as each grandchild yelled back what gifts they received.  I miss those mornings, but you best believe when I become a grandfather, those days will return. I’m looking forward to carrying on the gift giving tradition.   

Quiet time with Nana (10 years gone, but not forgotten)

Written by Courtney from Florida

I loved when my Nana (grandmother) would come stay the night at our house. She would sit with me while I took a bath and we would just talk. I miss her terribly. The house where my Nana lived, my uncle now resides. It’s a blessing to continue the family tradition of Sunday dinner at Nana’s place every week. She would be happy that we are keeping the family tradition alive.  

Family tradition sparks Friendsgiving (12 years gone, but not forgotten)

Written by Tyra from North Carolina

As a child, Thanksgiving was one of the few times a year everyone would gather in one place to break bread, share laughs and just truly be a family.  My mother always cooked the standard turkey, ham, yams, and such.   However, everyone’s favorite dishes were my Grandmother’s and Great-Grandmother’s homemade chocolate cake,  corn-pudding,  and their melt in your mouth yeast rolls.  After dinner,  there was always a marathon game of monopoly for the kids and some sort of card game for the adults.  My mother was very meek and low-key, so our Thanksgiving dinners were not fancy with place settings and silver.  Instead, the focus was on being thankful for God’s many blessings and spending time with loved ones.  I have carried on this tradition with my family and friends.  Each year,  I host “Prep night” on Wednesdays with some of my closest friends to prep for dinner on Thursday.  My son looks forward to this night, because he also invites a few of his friends.  Unbeknownst to me,  I have been hosting “Friendsgiving” before it was even coined an actual term!  Although,  I did not get the opportunity to obtain my grandmother’s recipes; I started a new tradition to have at least one non-traditional item each year on the menu.  On Thanksgiving day,  we all pray in a circle and thank God for our many blessings, eat, and then devise our shopping plan for Friday.   I’m hoping my son will cherish these memories in the same way.

Corny gag gifts live on…. (10 years gone, but not forgotten)

Written by Yvonne from North Carolina

My father was a man of few words, but his quiet presence and undeniable charisma spoke volumes. Everyone who came into contact with him, always walked away with a smile or laughter in their spirt. As I sit here writing, I’m smiling. (Thank you, Dad!).  My father always gave my immediate family (mom, sister, brother-in-law and niece) corny gag gifts each year for Christmas. Looking back now, he was creating lasting memories. Every year since he’s passed, the first gift my family opens are our corny gag gifts.

Remembering the good times (11 years gone, but not forgotten)

Written by Columbus from North Carolina 

Loosing my brother and mother within years of each other, had to be the hardest thing I’ve ever expereinced.  Thanksgiving 2007, I was not able to make it home because I had to work.  The following week is when my brother passed away.  As much as I’ve tried, I’ve not forgiven myself for that.  Making it through every day is tough, and not just the holiday season.  I try to remember the good times we had together.  To cope, I tell myself that my brother and mother would not want me to feel bad.  They would want me to live life and keep their memory alive, which I continue to do. They are both still near me in spirit and I will always keep them near.

There are several resources available for those who need help. Below are just a few organizations that you can contact for more information:

GriefShare is a friendly, caring group of people who will walk alongside you through one of life’s most difficult experiences. You don’t have to go through the grieving process alone. https://www.griefshare.org

Depression hotline numbers are a valuable resource if you are experiencing depression or if you have a friend or loved one who may be depressed. https://www.mentalhelp.net/articles/depression-hotline/