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'It's like the lights': How my daughter helped me deal with surprise grief at the holidays

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Allow yourself to feel the sadness of the holidays especially when your loved ones are in heaven. Give yourself the safe space you need to feel the sorrow which always seems worse during the festive season. Let all the feelings come in, then pass through. This part of the calendar is tough and IT IS OKAY to feel sad for a little bit of it.

We started decorating for Christmas. A few may think it’s a bit early, but our family travels over Thanksgiving. We head to my mom’s in North Carolina, so I like for all the Christmas decorations to be done when we come home.


My daughter helped me. She put on some Christmas music, opened boxes from storage and helped transform our living room into the magical season. A classic Christmas song started playing. I’ve heard it a thousand times - on the radio, in a store, at holiday parties...but right then, it hit me differently than it ever had before. I started crying.

Out of nowhere, tears slipped off my cheeks, and my eyes burned. Just moments earlier, I was setting out Christmas decorations, my daughter was helping and we were laughing. I was overcome with emotion I wasn’t prepared for.

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She stopped and looked at me but didn’t speak. I wiped my eyes and said, “I can hear my dad whistling to that song. I miss him so much.” She nodded and understood. I knew she missed him too. I sat still, listened to the song and heard my dad whistling to it. I let the feeling come. I let it wash over me, pour into me then release through sacred tears. I allowed the sadness to be, rather than hide it, cover it up or push it down, because we know in our heart that it’ll come back until we deal with it.

When the song finished playing, I smiled at my gorgeous daughter and she smiled back at me. Then she handed me one end of the string of lights and said, “It’s like the lights.” “What do you mean?” I replied as I reached for a tissue. “They’re connected, just like you are to his light in heaven.”

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