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Empty Stockings, Full Hearts: Silent Holidays

Editor's Note: Thank you to Nikita for sharing your personal story of loss and grief as we move into the holiday season. I am certain that many of our audience will resonate with your touching and powerful words. If you find yourself in need of support over the holidays, please reach out. You are not alone.

As the holiday season approaches, the air is filled with a mix of excitement and anticipation. However, for many who are grieving the loss of a loved one, this time of year can be particularly challenging. I find solace in sharing my personal journey of grappling with the sudden departure of my father just five months ago.

Last year, our home was adorned with festive decorations, a beautifully lit tree, and the joyous sounds of Christmas music echoing through the halls. We played Secret Santa, watched our favourite Rocky Balboa movies, and filled the house with laughter as we baked cakes and created an array of delicious snacks and pastries. It was a time of togetherness, love, and cherished memories.

Fast forward to this year, and the stark contrast is undeniable. The absence of the familiar rituals has left a void that cannot be filled. There's no tree to decorate, no gifts to exchange, and no elaborate family feast to prepare. The festive atmosphere has given way to a somber reality as we navigate the holidays without the pillar of our home.

Grieving during the holiday season is a unique and profound experience. It amplifies the void left by the departed loved one, casting a shadow over traditions that once brought immense joy. The absence is felt not only in the tangible elements of celebration but also in the intangible moments of connection and shared happiness.

In the midst of this sea of emotions, it becomes crucial to acknowledge and honour the grief that accompanies the holiday season. It's okay to deviate from the norm, to recognize that the celebrations may look different this year, and that it's alright to embrace the spectrum of emotions that arise.

As a family, we've found solace in creating new rituals that honour my father's memory. Whether it's lighting a candle in his honour, sharing stories that celebrate his life, or simply taking a moment of reflection, these small acts provide a sense of connection and continuity.

Grieving is a process that unfolds at its own pace, and there is no right or wrong way to navigate through it. The holidays magnify the void, but they also offer an opportunity to find strength in shared memories and to cultivate a deeper appreciation for the time we had together.

This year may lack the traditional festivities, but it doesn't diminish the love and impact our loved ones have had on our lives. As we navigate the holiday season, let us remember that grief is a testament to the depth of our connections, and in honouring our loved ones, we find a path toward healing and resilience.


(In my sleep I dreamed this poem)

Someone I loved once gave me a box full of darkness.

It took me years to understand that this, too, was a gift.


- Submitted by Nikita, Bridge C-14 MSW Placement Student


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