December 24, 2017

For the Broken-Hearted this Holiday: Finding Cheer after Loss.

Lately, more than at any other time in months, Waylon’s passing has wrenched at my heart.

Over the course of our eight-year journey, the wild-eyed rescue pup. had seen me through divorce, cross-country moves, and more attempts at landing on my feet than I am proud to admit. He rescued me in more ways than I can ever count and left me right as life was getting better than it had perhaps ever been in our near decade together.

I’ve lost others before him, extended family members, my father, friends, but as the year rounds out, this most recent of these dear losses weighs heavily on my heart. Sadly though, my sweet Way was not the only great loss of 2017. As I suppose happens as one ages, too many friends lost beloved parents, friends, children this year.

I think of the recent losses that friends have known, wanting to reach out in an attempt to comfort them somehow, to soften the holiday blow—for I know that while homes and smiles grow warm with the glow of the coming Christmas, so too will a chill follow those who have lost.

I think of my ex’s family during their first holidays without his father. Remembering fondly some of the most joyous Christmas mornings I’ve ever known that were spent with his family.

I think of friends who recently lost their adult child. How they have so much love surrounding them as the tribe of adorable grandchildren grows, and I hope that this somehow softens their pain.

Feeling our pain along with our joys is part of what this wild ride of life is all about. I don’t want for them to hurt—I wish they didn’t have to. But the love and sadness we feel for those we’ve lost are some of the most valuable pieces of our hearts. It’s what makes Shakespeare’s sonnets and stories worth remembering. It’s why my ex’s father and I used to recite Sonnet 116 with conviction as we filled glasses with Cabernet.

With each and every loss comes an ushering in of a new normal. Next days can no longer be as they were before. Tomorrows will continue, but not all of us will. In time, we move through our pain. We suffer, we ache, we cry—and when ready, we begin to live again. We find new rituals and routines and ways of handling life’s circumstance. We seek our joys and answers from new sources, we celebrate and cope, we muster, and we move on. And on.

As the holidays come this year, and as thoughts of family and togetherness ensue, our losses have begun to show. The holiday rituals and shared celebrations are in season, and naturally those absent this year weigh heavily on our hearts and minds.

I wish I had the words to help all of the people who have lost the ones they love this year to make it not hurt this Christmas. The thing is, the hurt is supposed to be a part of the experience. May we all focus not only on the joy of what we have, but also to remember with heavy hearts those we’ve said goodbye to.

My hope for you and for everyone is that the pains of missing those no longer at our tables this year will be balanced by the hope and cheer of new memories made. I hope that no one has to hurt or cry without joy and laughter abounding, too.

I lie down at night hoping for dreamtime soon to descend upon me, but thoughts of him—of my sweet Waylon—appear. I think of his last moments, of his smiles, and of the force of life within him. I wonder why it hurts so badly, so many months later still. I feel the loss, I give love to his memory, and then I smile and giggle at the silly antics of my new rescue pup, Wally. I relish in the joy I find in every second spent with this adorable little pup. Together this year, we got through his heartworm treatment and many months of illness and low appetite as he was nursed back to health.

This will be our first holiday season together. And life is good—it’s so darn good.



Author: Kristen Campbell
Image: @theluckysparrow/Instagram
Editor: Callie Rushton
Copy Editor: Yoli Ramazzina
Social Editor: Catherine Monkman

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