A Time of Remembrance
Winter holidays are filled with joy and celebration. During this time, millions of people reverently pay homage to the miracles in their faith traditions and heritage. Others celebrate meaningful relationships with loved ones, family and friends. From festive gatherings, thoughtful exchange of cards, notes and presents to charitable gift giving, these activities bring much hope, anticipation and promise. Holiday music magically transports us back through time to cherished moments and memories. And, for those who have lost loved ones, this season is a time of remembrance. It is also an opportunity to celebrate the special loved ones in our lives who have died.

Holidays often evoke sadness for those who are bereaved. Deceased loved ones are noticeably missing, and their absence trigger palpable grief, loneliness and sometimes despair. Some grieving individuals need to talk about what they are feeling. Others prefer to grieve privately. Respecting the needs of each is important. Rather than getting over a loss, the bereaved need to learn how to live differently in an altered world. Things have changed. Providing a supportive, nonjudgmental environment encourages the validation of thoughts and feelings. Working through the feelings of loss and grief is a necessary step in the healing process.

During this holiday season, look for ways to honor beloved family members and friends who have died. Light a candle in remembrance. Say a prayer. Share funny stories. Look at photographs. Listen to favorite music. Hang a stocking and invite guests to place messages inside. Make a charitable donation. Visit special places where memories were shared. Journal thoughts and feelings. Offer thanks for blessings and lessons learned. If needed, ask for forgiveness or say “I’m sorry.” Give thanks for your loved ones’ presence in your life.

Never be afraid to cry. Tears are good. They are a physical release of grief and sadness. Remember, it is important to work through the pain of loss in order to return to happiness again. Take it one day at a time, one hour at a time or one minute at a time, if necessary. Pray for strength, guidance and clarity. Be gentle with yourself. Get plenty of rest. Don’t forget to laugh and have fun.

According to Robert Frost, “Hope does not lie in a way out but in a way through.” Enjoy this season as an opportunity to move deeper into emotions where the miracle of hope can be found. May the warmth and caring of others bring you comfort. May the winter bring you rest and renewal. May the miracles of this holiday season bless you with healing, hope and peace.


  • Elissa Al-Chokhachy, MA, RN, CHPN, FT is a certified hospice nurse with Merrimack Valley Hospice in Massachusetts and the author of "Miraculous Moments: True Stories Affirming That Life Goes On."