How do you define holidays?
Merriam-Webster defines it this way ...
hol-i-days noun \ˈhä-lə-ˌdāz\
- holy days
- days on which one is exempt from work
- days marked by a general suspension of work in commemoration of an event
For those who grieve, holidays can seem like holey-days.
holey-days adjective \ˈhō-lēˌdāz \
- days having holes
Holidays often feel like holey days – days that remind us that there is, and always will be, a hole in our hearts and homes. A hole in the form of an empty chair, a missing member of the family, a feeling that life will never be "normal" again. A hole formed when a parent is no longer living, or a child is taken way too soon by a terminal illness or accident. Perhaps a hole created by a prodigal who has chosen to just walk away.
Regardless the reason for the hole, literature on death and grief tell us it is actually healing to acknowledge it. Jesus said ~Blessed are those who mourn [who feel the pain and express it], for they shall be comforted.
These holey days can be a precious time to remember ~ to share stories, laughter and tears about the loved one who is no longer present with you. Holey days are a wonderful time to transform the relationship from one of presence to one of memory. For it has been said ~ memories are where the proof of life are stored.
I am very familiar with the emotions of holey days. I know the horror of brain death, and the conflicting emotions of signing papers to donate my sixteen year old son's organs to save the lives of strangers. I know the sorrow of having an estranged parent who chose to not be in my life for almost 10 years. I know there will always be times I wish I could call my mom.
I know how God has used all things to glorify Himself and draw others to His kingdom. I have seen how His hand move to bring value to my loss. And I know that I will one day see my loved ones and forever live with them in eternity.
But all the knowledge in the world does not change the fact that these special days, these holidays, often feel like holey days to my grieving heart. It is a time to give ourselves grace; to offer grace to those who grieve.
So I give myself permission to acknowledge the pain as I feel that weight of grief bearing down on me. I purposefully bring to mind the precious memories of each loved one, even though these memories may bring tears to my eyes and an aching in my heart. For this I know, memories are the proof that they will always be a part of us.
To speak the name of the dead is to make them live again. –Egyptian Proverb