Foundation for Mitochondrial Medicine


Foundation for Mitochondrial Medicine

And So It Begins

I just did it. I said, “Alexa, play Christmas music, please.”

In all fairness, my first husband died 22 years ago today and a bad virus has kept me from caring for my grandson this week. Since I’ve been planning on helping with him for over five months now, keeping my distance has me a bit undone. While I mostly understand, I also grieve. And grieving on the anniversary of the loss of someone you love heightens the emotion.

Thus, the Christmas music.

Forever in need of hope, thinking past this weekend to the many yet to come keeps the dark shadows at bay. And somedays, that’s my main goal—to keep the dark shadows from overtaking my soul. Especially at the holidays.

While it may seem too early to consider the upcoming blanket of red and green, or purple and aqua, or bright pink and lime green, even now, every store you enter is decked out with alluring holiday paraphernalia. Unless you go into hibernation before the tress shed their leaves, you will encounter holiday cheer whether desired or not.

So, if this is your first winter holiday season without a loved one near, be aware, a mix of emotions will soon hit you at every turn. And that’s okay. Feel free to cry, especially when you walk through the mall and hear someone singing, It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year.

For not only did my first spouse die in early November, but of my eight orthopedic surgeries, three of them took place in December. And all three were ankle surgeries, meaning, I’ve seriously limped through the month, both emotionally and physically, many, many times.

My advice to you just joining my ranks? Grieve. Decorate. Give.

  • Grieve: When tears well up at unexpected times and your steps grow heavy, take time out to feel sad. While no one wants to feel sad at the holidays, embracing the sorrow leads to the pathway of joy. That sounds trite. I know. But having lived it now for over twenty years, I can attest first hand that it’s true.
  • Decorate: The father of my children loved to decorate for the holidays. So, when he passed away only weeks before time to buy a tree, I went big in his honor—especially because of our boys. And all these years later, I still believe that those who truly loved us and have gone on before us, would want nothing less than for us to embrace the life we have yet to live—especially at the holidays.

So, if you can’t go big, hang a wreath on your front door. Or buy a small, pre-lit tree for the corner of your room. And if you don’t decorate trees, do something that connects you to your expression of faith. Let it serve as a sign of life in the midst of your sorrow.

  • Give: No matter how many challenges I face, I always hear of another’s plight that leaves me thankful for my own. Finding ways to encourage and serve others in need helps me maintain perspective. So, grieve, decorate, and find a tangible way to bless someone else this holiday season. Their smile might just become your own.

It’s painfully clear again this week that no matter how I plan, life can interrupt those plans. While sad, I can curl up and hide away, or maybe just pull out my tree and bask in its pre-lit, nine-foot glow.

“Before Thanksgiving?” you gasp.

“Yes!” I declare. “I’m just so thankful for my tree, I think I’ll enjoy it now.”

Let the season begin!

About the Author: Susan Schreer Davis lives with her husband, their cat named, Eggs, and the challenging effects of mitochondrialdisease. Learn more about Susan, her latest book and many songs at:
Dmitry Bayer

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