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From the Holiday 2010 issue of For Those Who Give and Grieve.

You may find, as many families do, that the holidays are when your feelings of grief and loss are the strongest. To cope with this, it can be comforting to find a way to include honoring your loved one's memory in your holiday plans. It could be an ornament with a special significance, a candle that you light each night, a donation made in their name, or any other object, act, or ritual. If you plan to honor your loved one this holiday season, please share with us up to three ways that you will do so.

I raised my grandson and lost him on Jan 8, 2010. I lost part of my life then and am still in grief. I made a beautiful memorial garden in my back yard to give me a private place to go to weep. This Christmas I made special decorations for him and also hung his stocking on the fireplace. We also lit a candle for him as we opened our gifts. He was only 22 years old and left 3 young boys. They have their own "daddy" box of memories and I am making memory journals for each of them to have when they are older.

Posted by: Faye Griswold


My husband died right after the holidays, just 5 days after his birthday in January. He is missed by so many, and it is especially difficult for the grandkids. I always send a donation to his favorite charity, St Judes. On Christmas Eve we all get together for our family celebration, we watch the video of pictures and music that was made for his service. There are always tears and laughter at some of the funny pictures. It helps us to know that he is still with us in our hearts during the holidays, and always will be!

Posted by: Bonnie Fields


Remembering my son Robert ~ passed away January 2009. Robert loved Christmas and I have wonderful memories of the last Christmas we spent together. I never dreamed I would lose him three weeks later.

I have put a solor battery operated candle in my window so it comes on at dusk automatically, not only for the holidays, but all year long. It is a warm feeling when I come home and it is on… It is a way to honor him all year. I love and miss my son who left us too soon. I hold on to the promise I will see him again. Robert is my hero for giving the gift of life.

I wish heaven had a phone so we could hear your voice again.
I thought of you today, but that is nothing new
I thought about you yesterday, and days before that too.
I think of you in silence, I often speak your name
All I have are memories and a picture in a frame... Your memory is a keepsake, from which I will never part... God has you in his arms, we have you in our hearts…

Gerry Golia ~
Robert's Mom XOXO

Posted by: Gerry Golia


Hanukkah was my husband Andrew’s favorite holiday. He loved lighting the menorah each night, watching the glow of the candles leading up to the final, eighth night, when they were all ablaze. Now, three years after his death, my sons and I gather around the menorah, light the candles, and reminisce, laughing and crying as we share memories of past Hanukkahs with Dad. We light the lights, say the prayers, sing the songs, and watch the candles burn down, reflecting upon our loss, and treasuring those beautiful holiday memories. Carole Kabel

Posted by: Carole Kabel


We have special ornaments we bought last year to put on the Christmas tree.

We will light a special candle.

We have a video of Bob's life that we will play on Christmas Eve to remember him and keep him in our hearts.

Posted by: Joyce Zabel


Every year it was a tradition for me to go pick out a new Christmas ornament for my parents with all their grandchildren's names on it. After their passing; I still till this day go buy an ornament and I would put the new ornament on my Christmas Tree. I have all the ornaments that I have given my parents throughout the year on my tree. I even added a new name a few years ago; their great-grandson; my grandson. It is hard every year for me but I know they are watching from above to see what ornament they are getting this year.

Posted by: Yvonne Kuehn


For the past 3 years for Christmas, we have been sending out over 150 Christmas ornamaments in memory of our son, Andrew, in lieu of cards. We also bake cookies for our neighbors and deliver them to their homes on Christmas afternoon. We also continue our family tradiiton of sending in boxes filled with toys and the like to the Samaritan's Purse in memory of Andrew. We try to focus on others and to give love---so that we do not focus on the big hole that is there without Andrew.

Posted by: Linda Allard


We remember and honor our 17 year old daughter in several ways:

We light a candle for her every night, not just during the holiday season, but through the year.

For the holidays, we adopt several children who are in need and provide gifts for them. This honors Sarah's passion for teaching and her plan to become a teacher of developmentally delayed preschoolers.

Posted by: Sue Wintz


First, I will make my annual donation in Aunt Joan's memory to the Donor Network. Their great work keeps this cause going strong. Second, I will remember how Aunt Joan considered me "Numero Uno" and was so kind and giving to me as a child. I have the best memories of her and try to continue that kindness by paying it forward. And lastly, I remind my family members that we may have suffered a loss but it was not in vein for her donation helped many others live on. Her energy is with us and remind them organ donation is a beautiful thing and doesn't cost a thing.

Posted by: Stephen G Gavin


Since our daughter's murder in the LIRR Massacre in 1993, we have placed a bouquet of flowers near the podium in our church on the Sunday closest to Dec. 7. A pine pillow with a red and gold ribbon is placed on her grave as well even though we know she is absent from the body and present with the Lord.Indeed, she is Home and we rejoice in the promise that we will see her again.

Posted by: Arlene and Jack Locicero


My daughter, Tania, has been gone now almost 9 years. A few years ago I asked family and friends to write a letter recalling their favorite memories of Tania. I put these in a Christmas stocking. I hang this stocking every year with all the others and on Christmas night, when all is quiet, I sit and read them. They bring a mixture of smiles and tears but at the same time sooth my heart a bit. I look forward to the day my grandchildren, Tania's niece and nephew, can read them and learn a little more of their Aunt.

Posted by: Pam Legault


Ever since my son died in 2004 I still don't like to celebrate Christmas. It used to be my favorite holiday but with him gone it just isn't the same. I try to do the best I can for the rest of my family Tommy would want me to try and be happy. I make a monitary donation to a charity in his name as his Christmas gift and always put flowers on his grave. I have a special ornament I keep out all the time. I try to be happy.

Posted by: Anna Parham


Our son Anand loved lights, so there is always a lighted christmas tree with his name written on an ornament.At the grave site we place lights and flowers and I go to parties with one of his shirt and uses his favourite cologne curve.His motto was " have fun" so we enjoy the lights as he was the light of our lives.

Posted by: Tribhawan Persaud


My son Johnny died in 2002. Since then I have always bought an ornament in memory of him and placed it on the Christmas tree. I also keep his stocking on the fireplace to remember him. I find that Thanksgiving is much easier to get through because there are no expectations, just to have a good meal and enjoy family.

Posted by: KAREN LEGIEKO


Lance was killed 15years ago and no I haven't gotten over it as so many think I should. Thanksgiving is our big holiday. Since Lance's death I have written a prayer every year that includes every branch of our family and what is new in their lives I also include each family by having a centerpiece that has a candle for each to light in memory of their loved ones who have step to the other side. Everyone seems to be pleased to be included in my prayer. Of course our candle is lit in Lance's memory. At
Christmas Lance still has a stocking filled with his first Christmas Bear and on the front now reaching around to the back is a butterfly pin
for each Christmas he has missed here. Its very hard to find Butterfly pins at Christmas time since they are a spring thing at the stores but I still manage to find one. This gives me the feeling of shopping for him while doing the rest of the family shopping.

Posted by: Kathy


You are correct, the holiday season does magnify my grief. What I do this time of year is donate food for the needy in Anthony's memory. Anthony was killed by a drunk driver when he was 18 years young. We hold a fund raiser in his memory in the spring and the money that is raised is donated to some local organizations and charities. During the Christmas season is when it really hits hard, so throughout the year I collect candle holders and small candles. On Christmas Eve my children and I go to the cemetery and put a candle on every stone around Anthony. There are over 400 stones in the section where Anthony is. When all the candles are lit we stand back and it is so beautiful. It is very emotional yet beautiful. I think of my son every day...every minuet of every day yet the placing of the candles on the stones is what helps me to remember the reason for the season and that one day I will be with him again. Stacey Garrison

Posted by: Stacey Garrison


Each year since our son passed away 5 years ago and became a donor, I make a monetary donation to our local soup kitchen in his name. I also take whatever money I would have spent on him for Christmas if he were still alive, and purchase toys and donate them to a local foundation that delivers them to children in local hospitals during the holiday season. Last year I took my son's daughter, age 9, with me to do the shopping and it really made us both feel better.

Posted by: Susan Wareham


My husband Bob died on Halloween so that has always been a time to reflect and remember. There is no special ritual that I carry out but I take time to, well, take time. Often, it means I will go away for the weekend with one of his family members or a loved one and enjoy the company of a special person. And often, those trips bring surprises of their own that make us smile -- a dog costume parade we came upon one year, a hike where we saw a moose. Being present and deliberate with myself and my surroundings during that time has become the ritual.

Posted by: Allison Hepler


I lost my daughter in 2008 and recently lost my son in Feb. 2010. at this time I feel overwhelmed. I do all the above
things. They are comforting. Genevieve

Posted by: Genevieve


Since Nov. 26th is Amanda's date of death, I always put Christmas flowers on her grave. I was fortunate to find an ornament for that first Christmas with "Dear Daughter" inscribed on it. That was definitely God's hand helping me cope with the first Christmas without Amanda. It holds a special place on our Christmas tree each year.

Posted by: Cheryl Manley