The Holidays After Losing Loved Ones: My First Christmas Without Dad & Spencer by Susan Masterson, PhD
Christmas 2017 was amazing. My whole family was relaxed, laughing and completely present. Thank God, because it was the last with my father and our beloved cat, Spencer.
I had a sneaking suspicion things would be different this year, but had no idea just how different. We lost Spencer in February and then my dad in July. The grief comes in waves, but we chug on through. We survived Thanksgiving due to my mom being in the hospital – distraction works like a charm to get through holidays when you're grieving, but isn't a cure.
Christmas will be different. We will all be home seeing empty spots at the table and under the tree where Spencer used to curl up. Last year's joy may shine through, though. I hope we focus on my dad’s laugh, the silly gifts he always gave, his immense gratefulness for us, his years as Santa for the neighborhood kids. The memories he left us with are immeasurable, and I have to soak that feeling in and sit with it. It's what he would want.
I have to envision him sitting with Spencer on his lap in heaven this Christmas enjoying his first one with no pain in years. He's happy having his best buddy with him, I'm sure.
Then again, having a good cry just might be OK, too.