Experiencing Loss and Grief

experiencing loss and griefExperiencing Loss & Grief?  Take time to remember . . . and love.

Eileen and I were on the road the other day heading for some Christmas shopping. We were both in good spirits and then Eileen said in just audible tones, “I’d give anything to have him back.” I waited and then I replied, “I miss him too.” Eileen’s son, my stepson was taken by heart failure nine years ago after years of substance abuse. He had just turned 40. Every year at this time we become especially aware of his absence.

I went back in my mind to the good times I had had with my son, Eileen’s stepson, before cancer had taken him 11 years ago just before Christmas following recovery from alcohol abuse. He was 41. And then I thought of my adopted daughter who died suddenly two weeks before Christmas in the same year my stepson had died. She was 52, but had had a long relationship with alcohol.

Losing my brother this year has intensified my experiencing loss and grief around Christmas time. My youngest brother had died many years earlier from causes related to his substance abuse, and when I was a teen my mother was killed in a car crash with an alleged drinking driver.

I know that many of you, my readers, are also painfully aware at this time of year of the absence of family and friends who are gone. Metaphorically, each departed loved one leaves a hole in our hearts. So we need to acknowledge not only their absence but also the differences they made to us by their presence, however short.

I also recognize that every one of the people I have lost would want me and my family to be celebrating Christmas as a happy and safe time, a time full of love and kindness. And so it shall be.

I invite you, especially if you are experiencing loss and grief at this time of year, to make it a happy, loving time in honor of those who are no longer with us.

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Dr. Neill Neill retired his psychology practice at the end of 2013. He maintains an active coaching practice via telephone or Skype with select clients dealing with alcoholic husbands or ex-husbands. Check out his book, Living with a Functioning Alcoholic: A Woman's Survival Guide. http://drneillneill.com

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