Lori Prashker-Thomas

Navigating the Holidays: A Grief-Filled Journey Through Memories

The Prashker family gravesite - Photo courtesy of ShadowCatcher Photography, LLC/Lori Prashker-Thomas
The Prashker family gravesite - Photo courtesy of ShadowCatcher Photography, LLC/Lori Prashker-Thomas

The holiday season is upon us, a time of joy, celebration, and shared moments with loved ones. As I walk down the street, the festive decorations and the echoes of holiday tunes fill the air, creating a magical atmosphere that’s hard to ignore. But for me, and for many who carry the weight of loss, the holidays can be a bittersweet journey.

This time of year, with its blend of Chanukah, Christmas, Kwanzaa, and 10, yes 10, other holiday celebrations, is a stark reminder of the loved ones who are no longer here to share in the festivities. The streets may be adorned with lights, and the air may be filled with the hustle and bustle of shoppers, but my heart aches for the presence of those who have become memories—my Mom, Dad, mother-in-law, Grandparents, other relatives, sister, friends—all of Blessed Memory.

Chanukah, a festival that once brought warmth and togetherness, now holds a tinge of sadness, especially since my dad left us in January 2017. The flickering candles and the glow of the menorah can’t entirely mask the void left by his absence. The new year, rather than offering a respite from grief, seems to intensify it, with three yahrzeits in January and the poignant anniversary of my parents’ union in February.

In the midst of the holiday cheer, I find myself sitting with memories, recalling the laughter, the shared meals, and the love that once filled our home. The smell of latkes in the kitchen, the lighting of the menorah, the celebration of Christmas, and the strains of familiar songs all become poignant reminders of the profound loss etched into the fabric of my celebrations.

Navigating the holidays while carrying the weight of grief is a delicate dance. It involves finding the balance between cherishing the memories and allowing the space for the present. It’s about creating new traditions while honoring the old and understanding that it’s okay for joy and sorrow to coexist during this time.

As I light the candles and exchange gifts, I hold onto the belief that the spirits of my loved ones linger in the warmth of the season. I find solace in sharing stories of their lives and keeping their legacies alive through the traditions we once enjoyed together.

While the holidays may never be the same without their physical presence, the love we shared continues to weave through the tapestry of my celebrations. So, as I navigate this season of festivities and remembrance, I hold onto the hope that the light of love will guide me through, bringing a sense of peace amid the holiday hustle and bustle.

About the Author
Lori Prashker-Thomas has always been a creative soul and a free spirit and never thought “author” would be on her resume. Lori is the author of "From Mistakes To Miracles: A Jewish Birthmother’s Story of Redemption, Hope, and Healing," which was released in October of 2022. Lori is also a legal secretary and Paralegal for 20+ years. She is also Co-Owner and Photographer at ShadowCatcher Photography, LLC, with her husband, Michael, Owner and Wedding Officiant of Ceremonies by Lori, and a speaker/writer/ advocate, focusing mainly on being a Jewish Birthmother and the stigma associated with adoption. She is also a proud board member of the NEPA Pride Project. When she is not working, she enjoys spending time with her family and close circle of friends and being a Bubbe to her granddaughter. She resides in Northeastern Pennsylvania with her husband, Michael, and the love of her life, Michael.
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