Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Finding peace and joy during this season

~ Cherie Houston

For so many of us after the death of our children, it seems inconceivable that we can or will ever find joy again of any type, but during the holiday season, when so many happy and wonderful memories fill our hearts, it seems inconceivable. What do we have to be joyous about? Our child is gone! How can we be joyous???

When my 36 year old son Bobby died last September 19th, 2009, my heart was broken and I truly couldn’t imagine that I would ever find joy again – but that was my heart – my heartbroken heart - speaking.

In time however, even that first Christmas - just a few weeks after he died, as I watched his children and all 8 of our grandchildren, the logical voice inside me reminded me it was okay not to be joyous right now, but that it was not only possible but probable, that I and all of our family – including Bobby’s wife and two little boys and brothers whose hearts were still so raw and shattered, that we would all find joy again.

Thanksgiving thru New Years, and especially Christmas, have always been my favorite holiday season since I was a child. And through the years I did my best to impart that same joy to my children, 3 wonderful sons, Ric, Bob and my youngest Sean. In the early 70’s, almost 40 years prior to Bobby’s death, I had been privileged to have two beautiful little girls: Randee was born in March 16, 1971 and died the following day; and 9 months later Robin was born December 29th of the same year and she died the following summer of 1972. No one could have convinced me I’d ever find joy again, but in time, despite the overwhelming pain and heartaches of the girls deaths, I learned from my 3 sons and others around me to be happy again and to enjoy not only the holidays, but all of life’s special occasions and blessings.

Yes I did find great joy, but that isn’t to say that when special events happened throughout the years – birthdays, especially those of my son Ric, because Ric is Randee’s twin brother, graduations, proms, first communions, confirmations, weddings and then the births of our grandchildren – despite the joy of those events there were always moments of sadness reminding me of how much I missed the girls, often feeling as though I’d just lost them weeks or months before.

The death of our children changes us forever and no matter what you've read or been told, I believe that our grieving for them will last until we join them. But life does go on, with or without us, and for those left behind ~ our other children and family members, and ourselves ~ it would be even sadder for us not to find joy again.

It's okay and normal to feel as we do as we grieve (and we all know the way we feel changes in a blink of any eye on this journey from mourning to joy), but between those moments of overwhelming sadness, keep a watchful eye out for that little flicker of peace and joy, that if you welcome and allow it, it will continue to grow.  I wish you can find a little peace this holiday season and know and believe that joy is possible again, how could it not be.

We were blessed and given the wonderful privilege of having these children in our lives – be it for the months we carried them or the all too few years until their deaths; what incredible gifts we received from them.

So from one grieving heart to another, and in memory and celebration of our children who are no longer with us, my holiday wish and prayer is that we might each find peace, joy and happiness again in all that surrounds us and our families, this holiday season/  God Bless you and your families ~ Cherie Houston

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