Holidays And Death

Atwater Vitki

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Holiday’s and Death December 17, 2009


This has been a rough week for my daughter and her extended family. It also brought back some emotional “owies” in life for me as well. Her “Poppa”, mother’s father, passed away on December 8th followed by double tragedy with her “Uncle Bob” passing as they put “Poppa” in the ground at the cemetery on December 14th. Uncle Bob literally passed from a massive coronary at the service.

People only hear about such things, they never expect it to happen to them or that it will be people they were close to. I was devastated by my ex-father-in-law’s passing as he was in fact a special man on this earth. He was a friend and a mentor to me and his family as much as the patriarchal family head. The most commented thing at is Memorial Service was his ‘million dollar smile’ and I think $999,999 of it was because he smiled from his heart.

Blessing be to both of these men. They were providers for the needs of their families as well as decent, stand up American’s. Any one would have been privileged to be their friend. May you both find the pathway to the Source of All Things lighted and ready to accept your footsteps.

But this brings to mind others that have passed close to holidays. Just a year ago my father passed on December 27 and fifteen years ago my niece passed the week of Easter as did my grandmother fifteen years prior to that. It’s no wonder some people find cycles in numbers and how they correlate to certain events. It’s also no wonder why there are people who can not get in ‘the Holiday Spirit’ and in fact drives some to extremes to avoid the ‘pleasures of the season’ so to speak.

With so many ‘holidays’ throughout the year, I’m sure there are many out there that have a certain date that brings out the emotional worst for them. This is what brings me to expressing this in words.

One of the things that has bothered me long before the tragedies of death are people that insist on making you be ‘happy’ during their time of celebration. I’m sure everyone here can relate to the aunty or uncle, cousin or grandparent that just will not leave the holiday issue be. “It’s CHRISTMAS!!! Why wouldn’t you be happy!?!” or “OH come on!! It’s the 4th of July! Live it up!!” You know the one’s that took their cue from the 1950’s Macys® advertisements. The over excited, jubilant, jumping up and down because it’s one holiday or another.

Well bless their pointy little souls! I’m glad they have ‘reason for the season’ but perhaps they should a little more sensitive. If someone makes a comment that expresses their desire not to celebrate, let it be at that. The over exuberant can in fact bring out the worst in that person by pushing for a reason. Can they just accept that perhaps the sad person has a reason, maybe even a very private reason, that telling the world about only makes things worse?

If you are one of those ‘happy souls’ that just enjoys each and every holiday to the fullest, how lucky you are. How wonderful that Life has allowed this privilege. When you come across the sad or unhappy people during the array of Holiday’s throughout the year, be thoughtful enough to express your joy and not ‘expect’ it to come back from everyone. If someone doesn’t return the same over abundant ‘thrill’ that you enjoy, there might just be a reason you don’t care to hear. After all, it is the other person’s life not yours, that may have devastating reasons for being a bit resolved and quiet.

Thanks a lot for understanding. Blessings Be to all during this Holiday Season. May Good Will, Cheer and many Blessings of Peace be upon all!

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I so understand this point of view. I also share it, since Thanksgiving through Epiphany runs a series of bad memories:

My father died from a very slow and nasty cancer. At the slow and tortuous end of his life came the holiday season which went along the lines of:

Thanksgiving: The last meal he ever ate at the dinner table - and then we had to feed him.

Christmas: The last time he ever ate solid food - and then it irritated his mouth so badly from the texture he had open sores in his mouth - and what was this abrasive food he ate? Turkey that had been pureed in a food processor, yams that were so watery they might as well have been soup... you get the idea.


ew Years: He was semi-comatose. We had to feed him by dropping liquid food (Ensure and other yummy canned "food") from a long-nosed syringe being careful not to exceed half a teaspoon at a time - enough for him to swallow without choking.

Epiphany: His last day on earth. He died at 4:12 am January 7. And yes, this many years later, it had such a lasting effect I can remember the time to the minute.

So no, this is not a joyous time of year for me. What I have done to make it at least tolerable is turn to my faith: Christmas is a time to celebrate the coming of Christ for those who follow that spiritual path, and despite retail's efforts to corrupt the season into a Visa feast, I *do* enjoy doing for others. At Thanksgiving, I volunteer some sort of service to those who have less than I - either at a soup kitchen, or this past Thanksgiving I helped a friend who has disabilities around her house and enjoyed dinner with her and her husband who also is disabled. This past weekend, about 1/3 of the people at the church where I enjoy fellowship went caroling at two different nursing homes, spending about an hour or so in each. It was such a joy to see the residents' faces light up as they heard us approaching their rooms and several joined in. The most moving part was when we got to the end of one unit, a nurse asked us if we would be willing to go to one more ward - the Alzheimer's and psychiatric ward. I am proud to say no one gave it a second thought. We were all in. I had to fight tears when one nurse told me that one resident who held my hand and sang the Christmas songs with me hadn't talked coherently in months. She usually babbles, but for one happy moment, she remembered those songs and the words and joined right in with us. If only for those few precious moments, that was a gift that could not be wrapped that will get me through the season. And that is my survival system at the holidays. I accept that they will suck for me, so I work harder to help them not suck so badly for the next person.

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A lot of people get miserable at Christmas time because they have no family to spend it with, whether from death, distance or estrangement.

A lot of people get miserable at Christmas because they have to spend it with their family.

The birth of Christ was initially commemorated in spring.

As a midwinter festival (whether Christian or otherwise) in northern climes Yule or Christmas was a festival of survival, of hunkering down against the bitter cold and rejoicing if you had a shelter and enough to eat, plus a prayer that your stored food would last you until the growing season started again.

Our worries, in the developed world are different - but there are still people sleeping rough in our cities, people struggling with their demons in comfortable homes, people beating themselves up over the dinner table.

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Death has no victory because a Savior was born, that's worth celebrating. Its understandable to be reminded and saddened at the loss of someone close who may have passed-away around Christmas, but the hope is that in Christ they live, and you'll see them again. That's the peace and joy this Season brings.

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Death has no victory because a Savior was born, that's worth celebrating. Its understandable to be reminded and saddened at the loss of someone close who may have passed-away around Christmas, but the hope is that in Christ they live, and you'll see them again. That's the peace and joy this Season brings.

Well, this IS true Dan. When we get passed the loss and remember this it certainly is a comfort. I guess it just takes a year or two for the good to come out of the tragedy! Both my father and my daughter's "Poppa" lived long, fulfilling lives and thus the celebration of their life is easier, When someone is cut down in the midst of life it is a bit more difficult to deal with.

Thank you all for your kind words,

Blessings of Peace,

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