With the holidays here, many are already experiencing the loneliness that comes with grief this time of the year. It seems even though you try hard to have happy days you just can’t seem to get out of the rut. You might even be thinking I will just ignore the holidays and hide at home until they pass. But unfortunately, we all have to get out and buy groceries and every store is screaming Christmas before you even get in the doors. Not to mention some of us still have family around who want to try and make things as normal as possible and move forward with the holiday traditions. But for those who are dealing with grief nothing in life right now seems normal much less fair. You see I can relate and for many years I absolutely did not want to see the holidays approach. A month before they arrived my mood and mind were already set that I was not going to allow myself to enjoy them without the ones I lost. Until one day something clicked or let’s say my husband Jason asked me one simple question. Seventeen years ago, Jason and I lost a daughter and at that time I became a very bitter person and honestly did not feel as though I deserved to be happy without her in our lives. But one-day Jason asked me “do you really think that Caitlyn would want you to walk around with all of that pain and hurt inside of you?” At first let me be honest it hacked me off when he asked me that because I thought who are you to try and get me to release my grief. As long as I could hold on to the grief in my mind I felt like I still had part of Caitlyn with me. After about one full day of walking around struggling to not be mad at Jason I sat down by our creek and began to think more about what he had said that morning. I came to the conclusion that I was truly not trusting in God to take care of Caitlyn for me while we have this short, but seemingly perpetual separation from one another. Not to mention because I wasn’t willing to release my grief and pain to God I wasn’t able to truly move forward in my life, marriage and even in the relationship I have with our two wonderful kids we have now. So, as I sat on the creek bank talking to God I came to realize that just because I release my pain and grief to God and allow Him to heal me doesn’t mean I am forgetting about Caitlyn or letting her go again. I know that Caitlyn would want her dad and I to be happy and be able to enjoy life and especially the holidays with her brother and sister. I can’t put into words what happened on that fall day after I released the grief to God. It wasn’t long before I noticed that I had the desire to live again and be happy in life. It only took me like I said earlier seventeen years and for my husband to ask me one simple question. When we lose someone, we love whether it’s a child, our parents, cousin, friends or anyone it hurts and one of the hardest parts about grief is trying to express or explain the emotions you feel. Emotions can be good and they can also be bad but when we make the decision to release our grief and allow God to take over miracles begin to happen. A few months after I released my grief the holidays hit. I had a made-up mind already that I was going to enjoy the holidays and destroy my old traditions. It absolutely warmed my heart when our son was sharing his Thanksgiving experience with his friends and I heard him say “this was the best Thanksgiving ever, everyone was happy.” I believe with Christmas here the best gift we could receive is the release of our grief so we can begin 2018 fresh and clean. Let’s start the new year off with a commitment to joy in our hearts and confidence in our souls knowing that this is just a short separation from those we lost here on earth and soon we will be reunited. Let us embark on the journey and life that God has left for us to live here on earth with those He has put around us. Jason and I pray that you have a blessed holiday season and that you to will release the grief and receive the superlative gift God has for you this season in Jesus Name, Amen.
Love, Anita J. Shipman