This picture was 2 years ago - Christmas Eve. We all gathered like we do every Christmas Eve....full of family and all that entails like all of the previous years. Yet what prevailed most was a sincere joy to all be together. My brother & his wife were expecting their second baby. Our extended family was growing and we all looked forward to future Christmas Eves together as one big extended family.
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We had no idea that would be our last Christmas together...all of us. My only brother was supposed to be around to watch his son grow....To hold his daughter. To be here...now with us this year and every year that followed. This is the second Christmas without him.
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Yesterday we all still gathered. Last year the pain was still too raw. We are now in the full swing of life going on...there’s no other choice. We celebrate, we cherish one another, we rejoice in the kids & we honor him as well as our other departed family and what was. Yet, we remember to be here now.
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We still find joy.
As anyone that’s experienced grief knows the pain is folded in between the creases of life.
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Sometimes the pain overtakes you and you simply lose all control. Other times, you make space for grief and let it in.
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Yet, regardless, you are left to accept a new normal. And surrender to it.
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Franky, I know you’re around. I know your spirit is bigger than death. Yet, my flesh longs to see your smile, to hear your laugh, to hug you, to see you kiss your babies.
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There’s something about this human experience that makes you grateful when you feel someone understands what lives in your heart.
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Grateful for strong women using their voice @jennakutcher @elizabeth_gilbert_writer & @thefreckledfox - thank you for sharing your grief journey. Thank you for being an example of letting grief coexist with joy. Thank you for stepping into what’s possible. Hearing your stories offers hope.
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Today once again reveals happiness and deep grief can coexist. Strength and fragility can both prevail.
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Here’s to overflowing gratitude and deep sadness....here’s to feeling it all and loving all of those that forever live in our hearts.
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Merry Christmas.🎄

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Erika Austin, PhDErika Austin, PhD