Christmas for the Grieving

I wanted to share these open letters on Christmas because I know I’m not the only one experiencing the holiday season without a loved one who has passed away. If you are grieving this season, I want you to know that you aren’t obligated to feel a certain way, your feelings are valid and you aren’t alone. You are allowed to grieve and you are allowed to take the time you need to heal. I pray you find peace and joy not because of the season but because you deserve it. Remember to tend to yourself and pay attention to how you’re feeling.

Dear Grandpa:

This will be my fifth Christmas without you. The past four have felt far heavier than the first eighteen. The Christmas tree isn’t bare, the gifts aren’t any less abundant, Mom and I don’t spend less time at the stores and the food doesn’t taste any different. Even though all of these things remain the same, Christmas has shifted. Christmas is different. the lights are dimmer, the sounds are muffled and the place where you sat to eat Christmas dinner is empty.

Christmas isn’t the same without you. I won’t pretend the lights shine as bright but I will say the love you shared with the family you left behind will forever hold us together like glue. So on this day, I am grateful for the moments I spent with you. On this day, I think about how much I miss you and how loud your absence is. On this day, as I celebrate the “greatest time of the year”, I write letters to you that you’ll never read and I watch your beautiful grandchildren grow older.

There are so many parts of you that are embedded in who I am, so this Christmas I thank God for your legacy. Abuelita’s hands remind me of your warmth. The women in this family remember your kindness and the lessons you taught them. The six grandchildren you left behind are growing up to become amazing human beings, their strength reminds me of your gentle resilience. The men in this family remember your presence and how you didn’t have to say much for everyone to know you were in the room.

Merry Christmas Grandpa,

I love you and I miss you.

Dear Dad:

As I write this open letter, the page is blurred as tears uncontrollably flow. Though I think of you every day (several times during any given day), I try to stay busy and focused on other things in an effort not to cry, uncontrollably. You are so missed. Holidays are no longer the same. Birthdays are no longer the same. Family time is no longer the same. I am so thankful for the wonderful memories that this family has of you. I am so thankful for your gentle spirit and your legacy. I am blessed to have been your first born.

Merry Christmas Dad,

I love you and I miss you.

Dear Grandpa:

Thank you for beginning a legacy of great men in our family that I will follow. Thank you for your hand in creating and bringing up the greatest women, my mother included, that I will ever know. I love you and miss you so much. I’m glad that you left big shoes to fill as a man because I am up for the challenge.

Merry Christmas Grandpa,

I love you and miss you.

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