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Time to Weep and Laugh
Photo: Benjamin Earwicker
This holiday season brings a first for me and my family. It’s our first one without my brother, who died last spring. I wasn’t sure what it would be like without him--we’ve always spent holidays together. Even after we kids grew up and started families of our own, we’d always find our way back home for the holidays.

I knew that I had to do what was right for me. And I knew I had to do three things: I had to grieve, I had to remember the good times, and then I had to enjoy the rest of my family.

I did my personal grieving the day before Thanksgiving. I visited my brother’s grave, placing a small pumpkin there instead of flowers. As I stood in the bitter wind, my husband’s arms wrapped around me, I allowed myself to grieve. To feel the emptiness of not having him there. To remember how he’d said he didn’t want to die because he’d miss out on family gatherings. To ache and long to see him again.

Healing Grieving

That grieving time was actually very healing. It took a load off me to release some pain. I was able to move on from there and remember good times: how he’d eat too many mashed potatoes and feel sick after dinner…the guilty look on his face when Mom would take the vanilla wafer pudding from the fridge and a small section was missing…when as kids we’d break the wishbone together…and playing our family’s traditional song that officially started the Christmas season.

On Thanksgiving Day, I focused on those living. Grieving wouldn’t bring my brother back, and I knew that he’d want me to enjoy the day with family. So I baked with my mom, sister, and sister-in-law. I took pictures of the men in the family playing their annual football game in the back yard. I played with my brother’s one-year-old granddaughter and saw him in her eyes.

Ecclesiastes says, “There is a time for everything…a time to weep and a time to laugh” (3:4). I think that’s good counsel. If you’re missing someone this Christmas, take time to weep. Don’t push away feelings of loneliness and heartache. They’ll just come back. Take time to feel your grief, whether it be at your loved one’s grave, while looking at pictures or watching videos, or just closing your eyes and remembering.

But then, make sure you take time to laugh. It’s not disrespectful or selfish to enjoy life and laugh again. Those who are gone would want this for you. They’d want you to laugh, to feel the warmth of the season, and to enjoy the same traditions you used to enjoy together.

This Christmas, the Child whose birth gave hope to the world gives hope to you and me. Because the Savior was born, we have a hope. Hope for a world without heartache. Hope for seeing our loved ones again. Hope for the day when it will truly be “a time to laugh” forever.

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By Nancy Canwell. Copyright © 2007 by GraceNotes. All rights reserved. Use of this material is subject to usage guidelines. Scripture taken from the NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION.

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