‘I can hear him singing, ‘Hip, hip, hooray for Christmas Vacation.’ I can see him lighting the fireplace. Memories, never to be again.’: A year after husband’s death in plane crash, mom’s advice on surviving grief during holidays

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“Our second Christmas without him feels just as numbing as the first, except this time maybe I will remember these days in the future. He died on November 30, 2018, and December 8th was his ‘Celebration of Life,’ or in more dreaded terms, the funeral. It was just a couple weeks after we were expected to celebrate Christmas, New Years, anniversaries, and birthdays. So many events which occurred in what used to be our favorite season.

Courtesy of Erica Davis

I can hear him singing, ‘Its that time, Christmas time is here…. Hip, hip, hooray for Christmas Vacation.’ I can see him lighting the fireplace. I can also see him turning the thermostat to 68, knowing dang well it’s freezing outside and the heat should be set to 72. I can also see him baking cookies with the kids, and letting them decorate the tree. The problem is, these are simply memories, or visualizations of what will never be.

Courtesy of Treasured Memories Photography

While most families are enjoying these special holidays, many families are experiencing loss, many families are navigating a new normal, and many families need someone to lift a bit of their grief weight as they travel this journey (which feels so alone at times).

I am constantly hard on myself as a single, grieving mother, because I know what life would have been like for my children. It wasn’t supposed to be like this. The most challenging part of grieving is having to push your own feelings aside for your kids, because life doesn’t stop when you lose someone. Children expect you to to wake up in the morning, feed them breakfast, change their diapers, and entertain them. In the world of a grieving parent, there isn’t enough time to fully process this new normal, or at least for us, it was the case.

During the holidays or special days on the calendar, you are reminded of your loss.

If you are a single parent who has lost your partner through tragedy, illness, divorce, or whatever it is, I am so sorry. I know it sometimes feels like you aren’t good enough, but you are! I can promise, even through whatever it is you are experiencing, there is joy within this tribulation, there is hope, and there is a peace within this tough time.

Courtesy of Erica Davis

What has worked for me, might not work for you, so be mindful of this. However, I have found surrounding myself with people who are willing to embrace the ‘good-day me’ and the ‘not-so-good day me’ helps. Asking for a moment to yourself for refueling is absolutely acceptable. Mustering up the courage to embrace the moments which use to feel so joyful; like taking my children to see Christmas lights at the zoo, or decorating the tree which is full of memorable ornaments, or watching the favorite movie you all quoted throughout the year, is therapeutic. I took on every obstacle which stood in my way this past year and I believe it has been a really challenging blessing. Grieving is ugly, but it can also be so beautiful. It is a time to see just how courageous you truly are. It is a time to step out of your comfort zone and face each day as it comes. I can’t wait for you to face your tribulation with all the courage you have, because you will begin to see life again. I can’t wait for you to look back one day and see your scars as a lesson which made you a better person.

Last Christmas was such a numbing blur, and even though there are moments this season which feel numb, I can feel the joyous moments as well when I see our kids smile at each ornament placed on the tree, or their smiles when our friends came to decorate the outside lights on our house, or their joy as they sit on Santa’s lap thinking of what they want for Christmas. So many memories my husband missed, which makes it sad, but so many new memories I know my husband would have absolutely loved. This holiday and each special day on the calendar I tell myself, ‘I will chose to change my mindset. I will chose to find the joy within the sorrow because these feelings are possible and deserved.’

Courtesy of Treasured Memories Photography

If you are reading this and know someone who has experienced a hardship like death, please reach out to them. Offer them something, ANYTHING. A hug, a night out, a cup of coffee, a prayer, a loaf of bread, an invite to dinner…just do something to bring a smile in the dark times. Remind that person they aren’t forgotten, even in the ‘busy times.’

I always love when someone mentions Andrew’s name. It’s a simple reminder he is not forgotten. I know it is hard for some who are grieving…I get it, and for me it can be too, but what a beautiful feeling to hear their name and know they are loved.

There is never a bad time to be an encouragement to someone. Parenting is tough, and doing it alone can be even more challenging during a grieving period. Give a hurting parent hope with a simple gesture. I know holidays are busy, but after losing my amazing heart-forward husband, I have become more awakened to others during these times. I hope by reading this you will too, and I hope you will chose to find joy during this season no matter the circumstances.

Life is such a unique journey and we all have a story. Ours is a story of unexpected tragedy which has lead us to trusting in hope and that this unexpected journey will have a beautiful ending, far beyond one we can imagine. For these reasons, I have faith in the unknown! Merry Christmas, happy holidays, happy new year, and I pray you have as good of a season as you can!

All the love,

Erica, Jackson, and Sophia Davis”

Courtesy of Paige A. Photography
Courtesy of Adwell Photography

This story was submitted to Love What Matters by Erica Davis of Indiana. You can follow her on Instagram, Facebook and her websiteDo you have a similar experience? We’d like to hear your important journey. Submit your own story here. Be sure to subscribe to our free email newsletter for our best stories, and YouTube for our best videos.

Read Erica’s powerful backstory of losing her husband:

‘I heard there was a plane crash. Is he OK?’ I was in a cell phone lot with my children, absolutely frozen.’: Woman tragically loses pilot husband in Indiana plane crash, ‘I am honored to be the wife he chose’

Read more inspiring stories of life after losing a loved one:

‘I couldn’t see him that way. ‘This is not real, this cannot be real.’ I didn’t go in, my beautiful boy was gone.’: Mom makes ‘brave’ decisions in her grief after losing son to suicide, ‘I choose not to torture myself’

‘It’s good to see you’re moving on.’ It’s been 2 years since my husband died. I’ll never ‘get over it.’: Widow candidly shares ‘gut-wrenching’ moments of grief, ‘our memories are fading’

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