Celebrating holidays, birthdays..while grieving


The subject of grief to many can be so complex. As a mother whose child died it is an excruciating, painful experience.  It is something that can’t be masked or sugarcoated.  Eliyah was born on July 4th, 1996. What a fine day to enter the world!! Every year America celebrates this holiday with fun, food, and fireworks. Families plan getaways, vacations, and fantastic events.  For me I celebrated Eliyah’s birth.  It’s been 5 years since his passing. Every year I have done something different. The first year, which for many people is the hardest or most challenging, my husband Kevin and I went to the Ojai Valley Inn for alone time and relaxation.  I remember my mother calling me a few times wanting us to celebrate with the family. I didn’t want to. I needed to be away, and I was not in any mood for fireworks, kids, and people I knew. And so, off to Ojai we went.  I cried a lot. We enjoyed spa time, massages, and I even played my first round of golf. Although it was a beautiful place, and smelled of lavender I actually found it not that easy to relax.  My heart hurt, and massages don’t fix that.

Eliyah passed away on Jan. 19 2013. Before his birthday, there was  Valentine’s Day, Easter…. and Mother’s Day. I scrapbook which means I sort of keep everything lol. Thank God because I keep all the cards my kids have given or made for me.  I went back and read through his Mother’s Day cards to me. I can’t even describe what that felt like. Joy, because I have them, and heartache because there would be no more.  As, the year went on and we got closer to the Christmas holiday I cringed. I didn’t even put up any decor. No tree, wreath, lights, nothing. I had no energy mental or physical to do it. And you know what? It was ok. I had nothing to prove, and I needed to grieve how I needed to grieve.

So, what have I learned in remembering and celebrating the holidays? That no one can tell you how to process your loss. You can’t stop the day (birthdays, Christmas, Mother’s Day, Anniversaries, ) from coming. God meets us where we are at, not where we pretend to be, or would like to be. You can survive the Holidays while you are grieving. This year we celebrated the 4th of July at The Disney Resort. It was incredible. We celebrated Eliyah, and enjoyed ourselves.

You will face many emotions.  You are not alone, Eventually you will heal. For me, it was do not live in others expectations for what I needed. Everyone grieves different and that’s ok. There is no handbook for grieving correctly. Honor your loved one how you see fit. Soon, the good days will outweigh the painfully acute days, and you will see evidence of the healing process.



7 thoughts on “”

  1. My big sister experienced the same thing when she lost her husband who was her best friend. I don’t think she started celebrating holidays until 2 years later. As a sister I had to trust God and let her grieve the way she needed to. Also, she had five boys so I can’t imagine how you grieve when you still have kids around. She is definitely in a better place and at peace. She continues to honor Germaine by still operating their Sickle Cell non-profit which is the reason he passed. Continue to grieve and honor Eliyah as you see fit. God is always with you.


    1. The balance of celebrating holidays especially when you have other family members that want to, and you’re like uhhhhh no thanks. The first year was a fog to us and I did my best to honor what other family wanted. The 2nd year we went to to back on his birthday and lighted float away lanterns in his memory and it was beautiful. Kevin and the girls put up a wreath and some decor for Christmas. Every holiday is different and that’s ok. It’s ok to not be ok. We started a scholarship in Eliyah’s name 5 years ago. There are so many ways to honor our loved ones that also provide healing at the same time!!


  2. Elizabeth thanks for sharing your story. There is no formula for how a person should grieve. It is comforting to read how YOU chose to grieve in the way God led you to do so. In August 2017, my family unexpectedly lost our aunt to a rare and aggressive type of cancer and our grandmother to Dementia in January 2018. There were so many holidays in between that me or my family had the energy or interest to “celebrate”. We certainly were thankful to God to be alive and well during those days. However, two pieces of our hearts were gone. How do you reconcile that kind of pain with fireworks, turkey, and presents? My family and I did the best we could with the emotions we had, which was to cry, stare at the wall, laugh, scream, and cry some more. It wasn’t pretty and we are still dealing with the different phases of grief. But we know God has us in the palm of His hands.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. No there’s no formula. I’m sorry for the loss of your aunt and grandmother. Sometimes having the turkey, presents etc. and making life seem “normal” again helps people to “move” on. I have politely declined offers to events because the emotion was to much or I knew that those wanted me to hurry up and get over it. You take each moment by moment and heal as God desires and it’s only in his timing.


  3. For me, it was a lift of a burden to comes to grips with the fact that my journey of grief didn’t have to have a pattern nor meet others expectations. Thank you, Elizabeth, for laying this out so eloquently and with a warm heart. My prayer is that the heart or spirit or mind that needs it will find it. Love you!


  4. For me, it’s knowing that I can take my time and grieve without pressure to get a finish line. There isn’t one. Thank you Elizabeth for words given to you by God as only you can express them! Love you!

    Liked by 1 person

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