Tinsel drapes the holiday season and leaves it in aglow in light. Some people don’t have that feeling.

I write this post out of a kinship with those who encounter loss because I have had mine.

I have busied myself with putting up a tree, laying out lights in the yard, and putting up an inflatable Mickey Mouse to thrill my grandchildren. That’s December and Christmas.

Yet, in December cemetery visits crowd onto my calendar. It is the month that both my mother and father passed away.

December, while it is wistful, is not maudlin. Tears don’t stain my calendar page. The reason is I have learned the lessons that grief teaches.

What Is Grief?

For most people, grief and sadness are identical twins. They are more like cousins.

Sadness is an emotion and emotions change over time. We say that time heals all wounds. While it is trite, over time sadness fades. If you feel sad, there is hope. It will not be a constant companion (unless you feed it.)

Grief is different. It recognizes the chair is empty at the dinner table. It knows the ear will never hear a voice again.

Grief is ok. It recognizes that someone you love is no longer there. It is love for a person that stokes the fire of grief. Grief reminds you not to forget. Grief is good.

But somehow, life goes one. How do you transform crippling sadness into appreciative grief?

I cannot supply your answers but only share mine.

Transforming Melancholy into Memory

Remember often. Memory is a gift given by God. I stop periodically and think of a happy time in my life with the people who are gone. Vacations come back to life. Moments long gone rekindle. I can laugh, smile, and chuckle. And through that memory, absent people step back into my life for a moment.

No matter what, never think remembering makes you sad.

Appreciate always. One antidote to gloom is gratitude. I never go a day without thinking of how I am different because of what my parents gave me.

Think of what life would have been like without the person you miss so much? They educated, tended, coddled, comforted, and shaped. You would not be you without them.

It is hards to stay miserable and grateful at the same time.

Realign regularly. One exercise I go through each week at my review is to ask a simple question. “Would my parents be proud of the way I am living?” I keep them looking over my shoulder, coaching and correcting.

Let a person’s life, not their death, make you a better person. Let their influence continue to prod you in the right direction.

By realigning with the values and principles someone instilled in your life, you grow as a person. The grief is the springboard. Use it.

I do know that the holidays bright a certain dread to people. For you, I remember you in my prayers. As a fellow traveler, the road brightens, especially if you keep walking in the right direction.