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Life and Religion

Continue to celebrate the holidays, even when you’re still grieving
Carry on, even with the loss of a loved one
Published Wednesday, December 11, 2019 11:50 am
by Camille J. Dash

Camille J. Dash, a sophomore at Clark Atlanta University and Charlotte resident, is working through the grief of not having her mother around during the holidays.

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What do the holidays mean to you?

To me the holidays mean spending time with family and being thankful for what you have. For some, the holidays can be a hard time to enjoy when you’re still grieving.

In April, my family experienced a big loss. My mom, who had been battling leukemia for two years, passed away. I went through the following months trying my hardest not to be mad at myself, God, and the rest of the world.

More recently, I spent the past October and November debating whether I wanted to return home to Charlotte for the holiday season. I didn’t want to celebrate without my mom. I didn’t want to move on and spend so-called family time, without her.

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Even after seven months there’s still a part of me that feels guilty being happy when she isn’t here to be happy with me. But I know she wouldn’t want me to dwell on the past and be sad during the holidays.

Two days before Thanksgiving, acknowledging that grief is a part of the healing process and that I needed to be around people who love me, I decided that I should return home.
The thing about going home is that you must face the memories that have been scattered across your city. Being that I was born and raised in Charlotte, the holidays are always the best time to make memories.

But it was the little things that made me want to lock myself in my room and cancel the holidays altogether. The small traditions that I had become accustomed to over the years would no longer exist in the house that I grew up in.

I used to look forward to Thanksgiving morning because my mom would turn on the Macy’s Thanksgiving parade while we cooked.

Every Christmas my mom would make lasagna or baked ziti for dinner. I miss how we would sit at the table as a family and enjoy a home-cooked meal.

Home doesn’t feel as homey during the holidays without traditions.

Whether it was driving through McAdenville and looking at the houses decorated in Christmas lights, going to Charlotte Motor Speedway for the annual Speedway Christmas, ice skating in downtown Charlotte or blasting Christmas music while we decorated the Christmas tree as a family it felt unnatural to just let it all go.

Thinking back on my decision, I know it would’ve been selfish of me to shut myself off from my family as if we’re not all going through the same thing.

The only advice I can give to somebody in a similar situation is to surround yourself with friends or people you love and create new traditions. There is no point in cutting yourself off from the people who care about you most because you’re too busy feeling sad about things you can’t change.

Because the truth is, even if you try to pretend everything’s OK and go about the holidays as if nothing has changed, you will still experience that sadness of them not being there to continue your traditions with you.

Most of all, allow yourself time to grieve. For me, writing this article has helped me come to terms with the fact that this is the first holiday season that I’m spending without my mom. I want to be able to shed a light on the issue of loss and help others through their situation.

Just remember that your grief is yours, nobody can tell you how to react to it, what will happen with it or how long it will take for it to go away. And while time doesn’t mend the broken feeling associated with loss, what you do with your time can, in some cases, ease the pain.

Camille J. Dash is a sophomore at Clark Atlanta University and 2018 graduate of Harper Middle College High School in Charlotte.


I feel you in this young lady. My mother passed away in March of 2017. She had an extended illness which she feel into a coma on Christmas Eve and remained on life support until her death. I STILL GRIEVE, FEEL GUILTY, and the holidays will NEVER BE THE SAME. All I can say to you is, allow your self to grieve as long as you need to. There is no time window. People try to tell me to move on and I tell them where to go. If a person who offers their unsolicited advice speak to me about what they don't know, then I have an issue with that. Our memories are what we have to dwell on. I wish you the merriest of Christmas and blessed New Year. God blessings to you.
Posted on December 12, 2019

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