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Facing the holidays can be so hard for people aching for a loved one who is no longer living. There is a hole where they should be, and healing a hole is one of the most complex things about grief. It is similar to losing a limb, and continuing to feel pain in a part of the body that no longer exists.

That’s why I have to share this story. It took place in a recent Invisible Ink workshop, during which the participants wrote about a good memory from a Christmas past.

The first person to speak said she had a problem with this writing prompt, because she was still unable to put up a tree after her son’s death 2 years ago. I asked what memories she had with him that involved putting up a tree. She shared a long and funny story about how he was always so exacting, and that things had to be symmetrically placed on the tree, or he wasn’t happy. She said her biggest memory was hearing him say, “mom, there’s a hole in the tree!”

Another person in the group suggested she always leave a hole in the decorations on the tree so she could hear him, feel him, remember him, include him, in those holiday moments. The entire group erupted in laughter, and the feeling in the room instantly changed.

The following morning I received a note from this woman, saying what a big breakthrough this had been for her. She was already planning a tree decorating party for next year, and couldn’t wait to leave the perfect hole in the tree for her son.

And that, my friends, is one way to heal a hole.

© 2015 Kathy Curtis, All Rights Reserved

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