Saturday, December 3, 2016

Grief Is Love with No Place to Go

As Christmas draws near, my thoughts turn to my father. How he loved Christmas. Daddy loved baking his Christmas goodies to deliver to friends, all decked out in his Santa hat. He loved attending the candlelight service on Christmas Eve at the Church of the Epiphany in Amherst, Virginia. He loved his fluffy, fat pine tree, with the big, vintage, colored Christmas lightbulbs. Daddy was the epitome of Christmas.

Heading to church with Granddaddy and Grandma Jackie, Amherst, Virginia.

Yesterday I was struck by this quote, attributed to J.W.A.

"Grief, I've learned, is really love. It's all the love you want to give, but cannot give. The more you loved someone, the more you grieve. All of that unspent love gathers up in the corners of your eyes, the lump in your throat, and that part of your chest that gets empty and hollow feeling. The happiness of love turns to sadness when unspent. Grief is just love with no place to go." -JWA

My grief is my love for Daddy with no place to go. That's exactly it. All of that love I carry for him is stuck in my heart, and it makes my heart sad to be so full of love that can't be shared with him here any more. 

I cried when I read the words. Tears fell freely as I realized that this is how my grief feels to me. 

Maybe it feels that way to you, too. 

Honestly, I thought it would be a lot easier by now. This Christmas will be our fourth Christmas without that giant of a man. I was shocked to realize it has been that long. There are days when I am caught off guard with a sweet memory that moves me to tears. 

I'm so glad for the time we had with Dad. I cherish that last phone call the morning of the day he passed away. I see my dad in every gingerbread man, in every loaf of German Stöllen, in every dogwood tree, in every cardinal. December will always be a very special month because there are so many holiday sights and sounds that trigger special memories of Daddy.

Grieving doesn't seem to have a time limit, but I think I'm okay with that. Over time, it is evolving. At first, my tears seemed angry and full of anguish. Then there were tears of hopelessness. And for a time, I couldn't even cry; I just felt numb. Now, when I cry, the tears feel softer and they release pent-up emotions. 

Daddy and Jackie with all four of us kids.

There is so much love in my heart for that man. I will always carry that with me, so it will be natural for some grief to be there. I'm going to try to share that love for him with our loved ones; the people who love me, and love him. I want his love to have places to go, so I will try to give it to those he and I love most. I have to at least try; Daddy would like that.

I love you, Daddy. I always will.

Christmas Memories...
A Christmas long past, with my brother Danny and Daddy.

Granddaddy shipped his Gingerbread men to Utah from Virginia.

Dad delivered Christmas goodies to his friends at the gym.
(Photo credit: Natalie Mayhew Beidler)
Daddy's Gingerbread Cookies were always a special treat. (Photo Credit: Natalie Beidler Mayhew)
If you were lucky enough to be a recipient of Daddy's German Stöllen bread, you knew you were in his inner circle of friends. (Photo credit: Natalie Beilder Mayhew)
Old Spice will always remind me of Daddy.
(Photo Credit: Natalie Beidler Mayhew)


  1. What wonderful memories. That sentence you used as your post title is powerful. I'll have to think on that.

    1. It is so hard to make any sense of grief, and yet those words helped me. It's a process.

  2. Denise, it has been over 50 years for me, since my daddy passed and let me tell you 4 years is not enough for you to get over it. I don't have the all day cries or anything like that, but my favorite memory of him is at Christmas when he played Santa Claus at our church. It was funny because he was 6'1" and weighed 154, so big ol' Santa he wasn't,

    but Jolly ol' St. Nick he was. It always brings a smile and a tear. Enjoy your meomries. Hugs from one daughter to another.

    1. Stella, I can just picture your long, lean Daddy as St. Nick. Thank you for the hugs. <3

  3. My nephew has been gone now for six years, and yeah, it is familiar but not easier. We need to set up a skype date soon :-)

    1. Crystal, I am sorry for your grief. I will enjoy chatting with you next week.

  4. Thank you for sharing your special memories. Hugs to you, especially during this holiday season.

  5. Lovely tribute. I love all the photographs. A picture worth so much. My mother passed away 29 years ago. Sometimes I miss her so terribly that it is difficult to think about anything else, and other days it feels as if she existed only in my mind. Grief is an odd thing. We are well acquainted, but I will don't understand it. I'm going to follow your lead and try to spread the love that collects in my grief to others. Merry Christmas Denise.

    1. Thank you, LIsa. I'm sorry about your mother. I understand the mixed feelings about your memories. I have that, too.


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