It’s Christmas time, yet who really feels like celebrating when stricken with grief?
As a child I was taught that Christmas was the most magical time of the year, that unexpected things happen which bring smiles to the faces of children of all ages. Bright lights and shiny tinsel decorate every store you enter while sounds of carols ring loud and clear.
Almost everywhere you look people exchange warm wishes for a happy and prosperous season.
Each year I remember the last Christmas I spent with my mom. I was 30, she was 52, the entire family gathered at my parents’ home to celebrate the day. Mom was sick from an incurable illness that had slowly and painfully crept into her body; it was during the Christmas dinner that she announced the time had come and asked to be taken to the hospital. Silently everyone there wished her a Merry Christmas, and as she was being carried from the house, no one said goodbye.
She passed away a few days later and we held a funeral service a week after New Year’s.
The tree and all the decorations left the house as quick as her spirit; the wreath on our front door was replaced with a black bow which seemed to say that in this house, the joy of Christmas was gone.
If it wasn’t for our children who kept us going, time would have stood still, but life had to carry on.
Persevere is what we had to do.
The next year when Christmas came around it was a struggle. Why decorate a tree and celebrate when the only memory was of a frail woman struggling for each breath?
I was snapped back to my life when someone asked me what Christmas was like as a child. Warm thoughts of Christmas records playing; of shortbread cookies, sausage rolls and lots of love filled my being as a smile broadened my down-turned mouth.
Memories of laughter and dancing around the house led to me finding those records and playing them; my wife baked some of mom’s favourites and our children helped make construction paper garlands.
Christmas came alive in our hearts as we celebrated the woman who taught us about the season of hope, peace, joy and love. Mom’s death at Christmas was heartbreaking but as I chose to remember the happy memories, the sadness seemed to subside and the sounds of life started to rise into the air once again.
I realized that Christmas is a time to celebrate with family and friends the joy of Christmas’s past and present; even twenty-four years later the Christmas memories we still celebrate help us heal.
As you grieve someone this Christmas my wish for you is you welcome that Hope, Peace, Joy and Love back into your lives as in Christmas’s past and may your pain be soothed by the warmth of friends and family who hold you near.
Ron Malmas is the manager and funeral director/embalmer Compassionate Care Funeral Home. If you have any questions for a future column, contact him at 250-392-3336.