Nov 27

This time of year includes many gatherings of friends and family. I have multiple holidays and days of significance in these weeks heading into the holiday season. My traditions and celebrations, our families, often include favorite foods, foods with emotional connections as well as traditions.

At the end of November, I will take pause as my husband’s birthday arrives. It will be the sixth time that I approach his birthday without him. He died.

We no longer, and never again will enjoy his favorite birthday meal in the same way, his favorite birthday cake, his favorite people and family celebrating with him.

So many seemingly “little” details have become very woven with love, remembrance, sadness and joy. So many details remind me of holding onto those wonderful years of his birthday celebrations. These traditions and memories mean so much when the whole world that I loved with him is gone.

Thanksgiving will arrive. On the first Thanksgiving after Dave died, I struggled. We never discussed who would take on the roles and tasks that my husband held for holidays.

As that first Thanksgiving turkey sat on the island of our kitchen waiting to be carved, I ached. I was not wanting to complete the task of cutting the meat…that was his job. I was not interested in mashing the potatoes like only he could do…that was his job. Sitting at the end of the table, leading grace, making the dry jokes…to say that it was difficult is a gross understatement. He could not be replaced. While anyone who would step in to complete the tasks of our Thanksgiving without him was not replacing him, it was an area of difficult navigating.

Grieving is hard. Grieving as a family is difficult.

Each person holds their memories, traditions and grief in their own unique and individual manner.

We each grieve with the same uniqueness that we loved. This is normal. This is love.

We are not alone. However, feeling alone can be a common shared experience in these holidays.

It may help to talk.

It may help to be silent.

It may help to know these days will pass.

We are not abnormal.

We are not alone.

We are grieving.

I have come to find a new normal. To enjoy a birthday meal. Sometimes with family and friends, sometimes alone.

I have not found that one perfect way. But I do know it matters.

I will pause and embrace the love, the light, the dark and the grief.

I will be mindful of all that was.

I will live with each of these feelings, thoughts and emotions.

This is what it is for me. If you as well share some of these feelings and thoughts, know you are not alone.

Despite all the pain, I will continue to believe n love.


Geralyn Nathe-Evans has been called to the vocations of wife, mom, Lay Ecclesial Minister, nurse and friend.

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