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December is always sentimental. It is a time when we look back at our year and recall the life events that have occurred, for better or worse. We remember things that have changed us, friendships that have helped us, and people who have left us. Christmas time is especially difficult when we have lost someone we love.

For many years now, our funeral home has displayed a grand Christmas tree adorned with beautiful red and gold ornaments and thousands of twinkling lights. To honor each deceased person from that year, we hang an ornament on the tree with their name and invite their family members to come and take home their loved one’s ornament. This tradition is our way of memorializing the deceased on Christmas while remembering each family we have served in the year.

Most families return to pick up their loved one’s ornament, and the experiences are always different. Some people are very excited to come and see their ornament, smiling and remembering their loved one with joy. Others weep when they see the dazzling Christmas tree and feel saddened that their holiday will have one less around the tree. One man even returns each year to take a picture in front of the tree, standing with his wife’s ornament.

We have found that recognizing your loved one during the holidays can help ease the pain of the loss. Ignoring your grief and pretending it didn’t happen will create more tension, even if it seems that you can skate by. As with anything, bottling up emotions like grief can often lead to an outburst down the road. So it’s okay to openly say, “I wish they were here” or “Dad would have loved this” or “Remember last year when Mom…” Include them in your holiday, in your thoughts, and in your actions.

Our wish to you this Christmas season is that you may find peace and joy amidst your grief. We hope that you can experience a pleasant holiday despite your loss, that you can comfortably memorialize your loved one, and that you may find unexpected light this holiday season.

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