Holidays are a hard time for people who have lost a loved one. How have you handled your loss so far this year?
December 14th marked the 25th anniversary of my daughter Cindy’s death. (See previous post, A Single Flower.) She unexpectedly died in a car wreck at thirty-years-old. Looking back, I can see God’s hand in it as Cindy got to go on to heaven and we got to raise her two beautiful daughters.
When Cindy was a teenager, my husband told her he hoped she grew up to have two kids just like her. And she did. Only she skipped out on those teen years and his wish came back on us. LOL
I can laugh about it now. The girls are grown, and we are so proud of them. But when Cindy had her wreck, my last vision of her was on a hospital bed with a head injury. I held her hand and cleaned the blood from under her nails.
I have to shake off that sad memory and remember her hands delivering Great Dane puppies or grooming her horse. Or the way her eyes lit up with mischief when placing a thumb-sized beetle on her brother’s ear while he slept on our way home from his bootcamp graduation in Kentucky.
As a hospice nurse, I have a lot of families and patients who don’t want to talk about death and dying. Some don’t know what happens to them after death.
That was not my Moma.
Moma’s hope was in Christ. She had confidence in her belief that trusting in Him brought opportunity to see loved ones again. She knew she was going to heaven to see her Jesus, her parents and siblings, and my Cindy. But she worried about leaving us kids behind. (Moma’s Last Days)
Moma died at eighty-six in the spring of twenty-nineteen. Cindy’s death was unexpected, but Moma knew her death was getting close. She had time to talk about it.
The fall before she died, she and I were sitting in her room watching the squirrels play in the big oak trees in the courtyard outside her window. We laughed. She got so tickled at their antics and I got tickled at her.
Suddenly, she got really quiet and without turning to look at me, she said, “Shelia what will you do when I’m gone. And don’t say not to talk that way either because you know the day is coming.”
Stunned at the sudden change of mood, I didn’t know what to say. I watched her as she sat in her wheelchair rocking back and forth, still looking out the window.
“Well, mom,” I said. “I will probably come to this room and look out this window and remember how we watched the squirrels and laughed.”
She turned to me then. “Would you?” she said with excitement. “Oh Shelia, please remember me.”
“Of course, I will,” I said. “I’ll sit on the pier and remember how you and I broke Bill’s rule of catch and release and ate his last big catfish.”
“Oh, he was mad, too.” she said. Then she smiled and added, “Thank you, Shelia. I needed to hear that.”
She needed to hear she would be remembered.
I recently had the opportunity to go back to mom’s room and look out at the courtyard. I remembered our conversation and smiled. There were no squirrels that day, but my heart was full of joy. I thought of how tickled she had been and how important it was to her to be remembered.
Everyone wants to be remembered. We all do so differently.
Some people take flowers to the cemetery. The way I handle my loss by remembering my loved ones on purpose. I think of things they’ve done or said; eat the foods they liked, go to places we shared. Make a scrapbook or memory board of fun pictures, even magazine pictures that make me think of them. I listen to or sing their favorite songs. I’d put puppies on my memory board and a horse. A catfish.
And deviled eggs.
Moma loved deviled eggs and one Easter, she had eaten a few when my husband Bill said, “Now mom if you keep eating deviled eggs, you aren’t going to want any of this ham I’m fixing.”
She gave him a “look” and backed her wheelchair away from the eggs. However, it wasn’t long before she was wheeling herself back toward them saying, “Creepin’ around. Just an old woman creepin’ around.” All the while watching Bill out of the corner of her eye. Ever since, someone always brings deviled eggs to our family functions. And inevitably, someone will say “creepin’ around.” It is a fun memory.
Honestly, I cry sometimes, too. It’s okay to cry. To be sad, to miss those who are gone. But above all smile, laugh, and remember them. Remember the good things.
However you choose to remember your loved ones, do it with Joy.
I want to thank you all for the privilege of sharing my stories with you and hope this post helps you find peace to deal with loss this Christmas.
Remember wherever you are, when you come to my website and read my blog, you are at the right place. Come on back and share a slice of life with me.
Share with us how you manage loss.