Christmas is preeminently a feast of joy. There’s a gladness that infuses the Christmas season, expressed in the exchange of gifts and warm greetings, the familiar refrains of Christmas music, the decorated tree and lights, and the radiant faces of children with sparkling eyes as they eagerly await Christmas day. During this season, we share a glimpse of humanity’s deep longing for celebration, joy, love, peace, sharing, and unity. These are the true gifts of Christmas.
Everyone at some point in life must confront loss and grief. In December of last year, my friend Bill Gottlieb, CHC, lost his beloved wife to breast cancer. His writings of his experience of loss and grief and his path to healing touched me deeply. Bill has generously agreed to share the tools he has discovered that have helped him through this most difficult of life passages. The following is his personal experience:
Loss is an inevitable part of living. You can lose those you love — a pet, a friend, a sibling, a child, a parent, a spouse. And you can lose your health — your energy, your physical comfort, your clarity, your confidence, your joy.
In the last two years I have lost three of those I loved the most. In November, 2012, my sister and dear friend Jan died from 4th stage breast cancer. In August, 2013, my cat of 19 years — Suzie, my sweet, free companion — passed away.
And on December 29, 2013 — after an 11-year battle with breast cancer, including the last 16 months of her life, when the 4th deadly stage of the disease destroyed the body of this tall, lovely, loving, smart, vibrant woman — on the Sunday before the kiss of New Year’s Eve, Denise, my beloved wife of 18 years, died at home in my arms, her last words, “I love you…”