Compass Resources for Those Who Have Lost a Loved One
Do you remember the old Sears Wish Book catalog? Some of you remember it during your childhood years and some of you may not know what I’m talking about. I haven’t seen one in years.
The first Sears Wish Book was printed in 1933. Over time it became smaller and smaller and was eventually discontinued. Today children have virtually unlimited pages of a wish book that is called the internet. But back in the day, the Sears Wish Book helped us answer the seasonal question:
“If you could have anything for Christmas, what would you wish for?”
Marking the Pages of Life
Every year my brother and I would look through the catalog and either dog-ear a page or circle our choices in pen. We didn’t want Santa to miss our request. Out of all the pages in the Wish Book, we had to ask for the most important things we could find to answer the question.
You don’t need the Sears Wish Book today, but you have some wishes too, don’t you?
If you lost a loved one this past year, your wishes might be different. This Christmas, you probably have wishes that are something like I’ve had as I remember loved ones who are not with us this holiday season.
I wish I could have:
- one more conversation.
- one more time fishing with them at the lake.
- one more time in their arms.
- one more time hearing them sing.
I wish I could have one more hug
- one more kiss.
- one more snuggle.
- one more laugh.
My fellow West Texan, Pastor Doug Manning, wrote about the first year of holidays without a loved one in a book I have referred many to over the years titled “Don’t Take My Grief Away From Me.” In it, Manning shares, “Grief is not an enemy. It is a friend… a natural process of walking through the hurt and growing through the walk.” No matter what the circumstances were around your loved one’s passing, we grieve their physical absence. And their absence is in moments, heart-shattering.
What Grief Looks Like
There is no right or wrong way to grieve. We all grieve in different ways. The only harmful reaction to losing a loved one is to NOT grieve. So grieve as long as you feel the need to grieve, and when you are ready, welcome a time when you hold on tight to their memories without grief. When you remember but move forward out of grief, knowing that you have personally grown from your grief experience.
I’m reminded of my mother-in-law’s favorite movie, Places In The Heart. Sally Fields plays Edna, a widow left to raise her children on the family farm. There is a beautiful scene where she is sitting in church about to take communion. As she does, she sees her departed husband sitting with her, and then others she has lost around her as well. Her heart remembers the precious memories of her loved ones’ lives and she smiles as she enjoys that memory in a place she visits every week.
My Christmas Wish
A Christmas wish I have today is that you grieve and remember. Those whom I’ve lost in my life are still with me. I cherish our memories together. I laugh when I remember our season of laughter together. I ponder the wisdom they shared with me. I take from our many interactions pieces of their personality and the character of their heart and strive to incorporate those qualities into my life. As I live more like the best of who they were, I feel like they are still with me.
I wish that you will remember the best parts of your departed loved one. That you will cherish your memories of your times with them. That you will laugh out loud when you remember such moments shared together. That you will remember their words of wisdom that they shared with you. That you will take from your many shared interactions with him or her pieces of their personality and the character of their heart and live more like the best of who they were so that that you can feel like they are still with you during this holiday season and in the days ahead.
Loving Others Well
One more thought. Queen Elizabeth II is attributed with the saying, “Grief is the price we pay for love.” For me personally, I have found that the grief in my heart has always been worth knowing and sharing the life of my loved one. I pray also that you will find gratitude, and even find joy, and celebrate the time you walked with your loved one… and that you find your love from them and of them is well worth the temporary grief journey.
My God give us comfort and peace this holiday season. Where there is pain, may He give us courage to keep walking through this journey here on earth. May He bring us growth through the walk. May He flood our thoughts with the things about our loved one that we can celebrate. May He give us courage to live with the best of our loved one’s highest qualities and characteristics. May God give us what we need to touch and feel joy and to celebrate our loved one this holiday.