Hard to believe, but another year is quickly ending. The holidays mark when family and friends celebrate our traditions and enjoy the festivities associated with those sacred traditions. My late wife, as I have stated previously, loved the holidays. It was her time to say thanks, and I love you to our family and friends. It was an opportunity to spend time giving gifts and tokens of appreciation to those most important in our lives. It became a tradition she hoped we would carry forward after she died.
It has been three Christmases since my wife died. Each one presented a challenge, but as I entered this third holiday season, I paused to think about what she would want me to do and how I needed to celebrate her and the holidays. I offer a few suggestions.
I told someone recently that my wife died over 30 months ago, but her spirit and our love did not die. I am still a father and grandfather with responsibilities and obligations. I have, I hope, more years to enjoy time with my family. I hope I can spoil them as I did in the past and bring laughter and support, comfort and strength, an ear to listen, and a hand to hold when they need me. I want them to know I am here to help them.
I want to teach my children and grandchildren to celebrate the little successes I have learned over the past 30 months. I have gone from feeling lost and abandoned to feeling supported, loved, and comforted by so many people. I have made new friends through my support groups and gained invaluable insights from many people. The resources of this brotherhood are immeasurable, and I can never repay its impact on my life.
Last week one of our most gifted brothers, Jim Winner, wrote a column about the How question after his wife died. Jim succinctly said none of us will ever get a satisfactory answer to the why questions. We can ponder it ad infinitum and never get an answer that will satisfy why our tragedy happened. Even if we did, would we be satisfied? Would we say, “Oh, I understand”? No, I think not. That question will never be answered.
What we need to focus on is the how question. When my wife died, I tried to read every book I could about what I needed to do to move forward. It’s Jim’s how question. How do I move forward in my life? How do I become a new person as I travel this new path? Jim’s answer is to find that which helps you grow and find peace, comfort, and support.
I find it healing to listen to my brothers in our support group. I enjoy being a listening board for friends struggling with marriage, relationships, or family problems. They know I don’t have the answers, but I listen and offer if I can some suggestions on how I would proceed with a particular situation.
Brothers, we are survivors who have walked a challenging road. We are invaluable resources to others. Our knowledge and strength in moving forward is a gift we can share with others. It’s a gift that offers enormous rewards. Take a little time to honor your wife by helping others this holiday season.
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