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Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Letting go!

What we have once enjoyed and deeply loved we can never lose, for all that we love deeply becomes a part of us.  --Helen Keller

...becomes a part of us.  They are not gone from our lives, completely, they remain with us, a part of us.  Rachel is always in my heart, on my mind and forever on my tongue.  Rachel, like so many others, is very much alive in the people they loved and in turn loved them.

That first Christmas was, as I mentioned before, a very difficult one.  Of course I added to my stress and anxiety, by working myself into a frenzy in the weeks before Christmas, thinking I would never make it through that day.  Yet Christmas arrived, yes there was grief, but it had been worse in the weeks prior, by the time it arrived, I had, without my realizing it, worked my way through it.

As will be the case for many of you.  You will stress about it, feel that there is just no way that you can do it, and then find yourself on the other side of it all.  As the years move on, you find that the actual holiday is not so bad, it is the days and events prior that can be taxing.  When you are out shopping, you know that you have one less gift to buy, there is one less Christmas card to send, and that can leave you saddened and heavy-hearted.  

This year I am having a slow go of it all, it seems that I am procrastinating more, and just not getting into the swing of things.  I have made some purchases, put up the tree, sent out my Christmas cards, it just seems as if my whole heart is not in it.  One thing I have begun to realize, is that I can feel the healing, and with this fact, comes the knowledge that I need to let go.  It does not mean that I am forgetting, on the contrary the memories are now more prevalent and have much more meaning; it just means I am realizing that I need to move on.  What is hard for me, is that now I truly know in my heart that Rachel is gone, she isn't coming back.  I have awakened from the nightmare, and now know it is a reality.  

For example, since Rachel's death, I have added her name to our Christmas cards, this year I felt that I could let go of this tradition.  For me she is in my heart, she is a part of me, and to those who knew her, she is still a part of their lives as well.  I met up with someone who received my Christmas card, they thanked me and proceeded to tell me that they missed seeing Rachel's name on the card as well.  I didn't know what to say at first, and then simply said I felt it was time.  Even though I felt I had done the right thing, it left me second guessing myself, was it to soon, should I have included her name, and so on.  Then I realized that they were not ready to let go, they still wanted to hold on.  

This simple encounter made me realize that others are still grieving Rachel's death.  That I am not the only one who is hurting, who is questioning, who still wants to hold on.  This is true for people in your life as well, they may not express it or share it with you, but they are hurting and missing too.  I know that Rachel, like your loved one, touched many people's lives, and their loss is whatever our loved one brought into their relationship with them.  They maybe a sibling, aunt or uncle, cousin or friend, or any other type of bond that they may have shared; and because of this bond, they feel their own special type of loss.  'Death ends a life, but it does not end a relationship.'  Dennis Klass

This is good to remember as you go about your life.  Yes their pain may not be as deep as yours, their relationship may have been so different, but yet there is something there, that neither of you can explain.  The gift in all this, is that you share a common loss, you, family and friends all long for and miss this beloved individual, and want so much to keep their memory alive.  Simple things can mean so much for all of you, like adding their name to your greeting cards.  

According to Dr. James Miller in his booklet entitled 'Helping the Bereaved Celebrate the Holidays' he reminds us that: 'Sometimes it's difficult for family members to support one another because each person is caught in his or her own feelings of grief and abandonment.'  It can also be hard on your friends, they may be uncomfortable with the loss and how it is effecting you and others.  If you find yourself unable to speak to those nearest to you, find support groups, speak to your pastor, rabbi or minister, or seek counseling, especially during this time of year.  It helped me to speak to a counselor, when no one else could or would listen to me.  Most importantly, do not be afraid to ask for help, it is okay...really. 

Support groups are great, and many are designed to meet specific needs.  For instance, there are groups for bereaved parents, grandparents, widows/widowers, siblings, children, etc., and of course, general grief groups, where anyone is welcome.  Why they help?  These are individuals who are where you are, or have been where you are going.  They have a better understanding of what you are going through, and can help you make sense of what is happening to you and those around you.  Many groups have special gatherings to help the bereaved during this time of year, take advantage of these.   I have attended a few support groups myself, and I have found those that work and some that were just not for me, don't be afraid to shop around until you find one that is right for you.  My overall experience, was one of knowing that I was definitely not alone, that I would survive, and at the end of the day, I would be okay.  

None of us needs to go this alone, especially during this time of year.  There are so many people right in your own families, communities, schools, workplaces, and places of worship, who have walked in your shoes, who know and understand your pain, and are more than willing to help you, your family and friends, survive the holidays, and beyond.  Take that step, reach out, I am certain you will find a helping hand stretched out to grasp yours.  If you have someone in your life who is trying to cope with grief and does not have the strength to reach out, you can help them.  Invite them to come along with you, seek to help them by asking them to help you.  

Many years ago three wise men set out to find a baby, led only by a star, and their belief that something wonderful awaited them  We too are on a journey, and like those men so many years ago, they traveled from afar, they met with difficulty I am sure along the way, and many who traveled with them, more than likely wished to turn back, holding onto the comfort of what they knew and understood.  We are like these wise men of long ago, we are on a journey, we are led by our faith and what we believe, we have met with struggle and pain, and wish we could turn back time.  But yet were persevere, we move onward, and we continue, knowing that what we seek lies ahead.  For those of us who are grieving, what we seek is healing and understanding, and the only way we can do this, is by letting go, trusting, and knowing that our love for them and their love for us, will forever sustain us.  

May the peace of the season surround you.

Blessings! and until we meet again.


  1. Rose Mary, This is beautifully written and so full of good sound advice. You are really helping others through your wisdom. I hope you have a blessed holiday while you remember Rachel in your heart and memories.

  2. Nancy, thank you.

    Wishing you and yours all the blessings of this Holiday season.

    Take care, xoxoxo