Merry Christmas From Heaven
By John Wm. Mooney
I still hear the songs
I still see the lights
I still feel your love
on cold wintry nights
I still share your hopes
and all of your cares
I'll even remind you
to please say your prayers
I just want to tell you
you still make me proud
You stand head and shoulders
above all the crowd
Keep trying each moment
to stay in His grace
I came here before you
to help set your place
You don't have to be
perfect all of the time
He forgives you the slip
if you continue the climb
To my family and friends
please be thankful today
I'm still close beside you
in a new special way
I love you all dearly
now don't shed a tear
Cause I'm spending my
Christmas with Jesus this year
In Memory of Michael Pattillo
Submitted by his family
Wayne and Janice Pattillo
Jason and Staci Pattillo, Hannah and Wyatt
"Courage does not always roar...
Sometimes it is the small voice at night that says.....
I will try again tomorrow."
This will be our second Christmas without our son Joey. He was a big
Lakers fan, and played basketball like his idle Kobe Bryant... So our tree
is decorated in purple and yellow lights (Lakers colors ) and butterflies,
and of course all the ornaments that have been made over the years...Our
town has a tree lane and you can purchase a tree and decorate it how you
We will again have a tree in our town’s courtyard in memory of our son...
Seeing the colors shine bright with purple and yellow makes us smile
with wonderful memories...
Ginger Long, Havana IL
Suggestions on How to Sign Christmas Cards?
My son Chris died on May 3, 1998. Two years ago I came across a
picture of him when he was in our church Christmas program at 2 1/2.
He was wearing a halo standing in front of the church's Christmas
tree. I printed these pictures and included them in our Christmas card.
I just typed his name birth date and Angel date.
Last year I remembered just how much Chris loved and enjoyed the story
of the Little Drummer Boy as a small child and in his high school years.
I found cards with the drummer boy on them and included just how this was
one of Chris' favorite Christmas stories and I told the recipient I wished
they had people in their lives that brought them as much happiness as Chris
had brought to ours in his short lifetime.(19)
When Chris was in the 3rd grade they had to write about their favorite
recipe. Chris' was Gingerbread men. After he was finished writing he asked
if he could make some and take them to the kids in his class. I have already
found Christmas cards with Gingerbread men on them. I am explaining Chris'
love for them and include the recipe with them.
Grieving Mom to Christopher M. Schuh
The last two Christmases I signed my Christmas cards "In
Memory Of Melanie". This year I have a butterfly stamp that I stamped
each card with in red and then with green ink I wrote "Melanie" across
the butterfly and then under the butterfly I wrote "In Heaven".
I will always include Melanie in all my holiday, birthday and greeting
cards, even if it is just a butterfly stamped upon the page with her initials,
she will be included.
I am looking for an angel stamp to use for Christmas but haven't found
one to my liking as of yet. I will keep looking.
~Kathy Thompson (Melanie's Mama)
Last Christmas was the first without our daughter Ashley and I had a
horrible time trying to decide what to do about a Christmas card.
I found the perfect card from Abbey Press. I would think anyone that
can make a computer card could use the words. It makes my Christmas
front: Christmas . . . . a time to remember loved ones,
both here and in heaven
inside left: I will turn their mourning into joy, I will comfort
them, and give them gladness for sorrow.
inside right: After the loss of a loved one, the holiday season
brings special memories of Christmases past and tender moments of
sadness. We are also reminded of special friends and family like
you. Through your love and God's healing touch, we know that Christmas
will once again be filled with hope, peace and joy.
MAY GOD BLESS YOU WITH HIS LOVE AND PEACE DURING THIS HOLIDAY SEASON
AND THROUGHOUT THE YEAR.
Hope this helps someone this year.
Always - Teri
Mom to Ashley 6/29/99 - 10/11/01
I've seen some parents write, "...and from Joey, our angel in heaven."
What I've found to best the best solution for me is to send the cards from
my husband and myself, in memory of Tracey. I make my own holiday
cards on my computer, and next to her name, I add a photo of her smiling
face. (This year on the back of the card I wrote: "In memory
of our precious daughter, Tracey. We remember her. . . . always."
Her picture was below this message.
Though many of 'us' aren't comfortable sending cards since our child
died, I feel it gives me an opportunity to remind people that she lived,
and she continues to be a precious part of our family.
Wishing you peace,~ Sally Migliaccio
A dear friend of mine has been able to take a signature from her angel
daughter (off something she wrote her name on when she was still here)
and made a stamp out of it to sign cards and letters.
Where Is Christmas?
Where is Christmas? Where can it be found?
I've tried and I've tried, I have looked all around.
Is it hiding in some forgotten space?
Have I misplaced it? I can't find a trace.
Up in the attic in boxes stored away?
I try to find it, it will soon be Christmas Day.
As I sit and ponder my lost Christmas plight.
My mind drifts back to long ago Christmas Eve night.
When did I lose it? Where did I lock it away?
Why can't I find Christmas this Christmas Day?
Years before it was so readily found
But now I can't find it, it is no where around.
And as I remember it comes clear to see
When I lost Christmas inside of me.
For Christmas is born from a joy deep within
But since you are gone, I don't know where to begin.
The feelings of joy have been replaced
By the pain of longing to see your sweet face.
Yes, Christmas is here, but the joy gone away
And try as I may, I can't find Christmas,
this Christmas Day.
Sheila Simmons, Atlanta TCF
When you remember me, it means that you have carried something of who
I am with you,
that I have left some mark on who I am on who you are.
It means that you can summon me back to your mind even though countless
years and miles may stand between us.
It means that if we meet again, you will know me, and hear my voice
and speak to me in your heart.
For as long as you remember me, I am never entirely lost.
As we approach our first Christmas without our beloved son and brother
Billy, we find that this Christmas is the most difficult for us. The house
seems so empty and we all miss Billy so much.
It's raining outside - a typical thunderstorm for us this time of the
year. How I wish that the rain could wash away our pain. But that's not
to be I wish to share the following thoughts with all you who have been
a constant support for us. It’s greatly appreciated.
It's Christmas Eve
It's Christmas Eve
but there's no fun
because we grieve
the loss of Billy, our son.
It's Christmas Eve
but there's no joy
to give or receive
but tears for our dear boy.
The house is bare
We're so alone
Our Billy is not here.
This will be the first year
that at Christmas time
we mourn and shed a tear.
It's Christmas Eve
We want to be strong
but still we grieve
for Billy that's gone.
We hope and pray
that our Christmas tomorrow,
Will be a better day
but we are filled with sorrow.
Because it's Christmas Eve
It's not to say
we cannot grieve
on this Christmas day.
© Robert Petzer, 23 December 2001
Robert, Beverley, Charlene & Abigail
Parents and sisters of Billy (1 Aug 1980 - 30 May 2001)
My Hope for You…
that you will be able to find Christmas in your heart.
This Christmas has been harder for some reason, than the ones of the
last two years - for a lot of different reasons. As I read this newsletter
everyday, I am touched by each and every story and frequently find myself
crying for all the children and for all the parents who are surviving.
Reading your pain around Christmas has been particularly sad for me. I
never had a Christmas with Diana so only miss what might have been. I don't
have to face empty chairs, empty rooms....she never had one. I have been
touched by your trials, though. And wanted to share something out of the
book “The Quotable Evans” by Richard Paul Evans that has helped me
in my quest for peace.
”We stand here encompassed by winter: the barren trees with their fallen
leaves, the silent riverbed. Nothing is more certain in life or in
nature than death. We accept it as the way of things. Perhaps we are able
because we have faith in spring. Yet somehow it seems different to us when
death comes early. Much as we might bemoan an early winter, we feel robbed
of something due. We feel cheated. Sometimes we rage. And sometimes we
blame. And in doing so, we say to God, ‘my will be done, not Thine,’ and
we forget about the promise of spring....In the cold of our soul's winter,
we bury our hearts. And then we wonder why it is dark and why we feel so
alone. And we risk spending so much of our lives occupied with our loss
and what we have not, that we forget the beauty of what is and what we
have still. And this is sometimes the greater loss...This I know. There
are more ways to lose a child than death. Perhaps those who lose a childhood
to death are more fortunate than those who let the chalice of childhood
slip from their grasp without ever drinking of it." Richard
Paul Evans...The Looking Glass
When I read this, I don't hear that we have to forget our children or
that we should not be sad that they are gone. I hear that there is still
much life to live, much love to share. This Christmas I plan to focus on
the beauty of what is and what I have still, to look at Christmas again
with the wonder of a child, and to trust that the promise of spring will
My wish for each and every one of you is that you will find the beauty
of what is and what you have still in the face of the deepest sadness –
that you will be able to find Christmas in your heart.
Peace, Love, and Joy to you all,
Michelle Kissman, Atlanta TCF
~reprinted from TCF Atlanta Online Sharing
Gifts of Love
by Cathy Seehuetter ~
TCF, St. Paul, MN
As I type this, it is the day after Thanksgiving. People in the retail
business say that it is the biggest shopping day of the year. Before
Nina died, I was one of those crazy shoppers who on that day sat out in
the parking lot of whatever store that opened at 6 a.m. waiting for them
to open their doors so I could shove my way into whatever "blue light special"
was being offered. My children's wish list in hand, I was ready to
power shop 'til I dropped. But that was then, and this is now. Five Christmas
shopping seasons later, my life, as all of our lives, has changed irrevocably
as one precious child is no longer on that shopping list.
Not too long ago, I was in a fitting room trying on some clothes when
I overheard the conversation between mother and teenage daughter in the
room next to me. There was a volatile exchange of words between the two
of them as the mother was trying to hustle her daughter along. She kept
saying to her, "You know, I don't have all day to waste because you can't
make up your mind." The heated discussion continued and concluded with
the girl's mother saying, "That's it! I am never taking you shopping again!"
That phrase sent a chill down my spine. It took everything in my power
to keep from bursting from my fitting room and admonish that mother; tell
her that I would give anything to have my daughter alive so that
she could cause that so-called "inconvenience" that obviously hers was
causing her. I then realized that in this woman's agitated state it would
only fall on deaf ears. It has been four and a half years since my daughter
died and I still go into the shops that we frequented and see some adorable
outfit hanging on one of the mannequins and think, "Nina would have loved
that." She was my shopping buddy. She could never say no to an invitation
to go shopping. And it wasn't just shopping for herself that she loved.
From the time she was very young, she loved buying gifts for others. She
would scrape whatever money she had saved from birthdays, etc. to buy a
small gift for each of us. Interestingly, the gift she gave me our last
Christmas together was an angel. At that time I had not even started the
angel collection that I have now since she died.
Be prepared to find "gifts" from your children when you unpack your
Christmas decorations for the first time. It seemed as if each box I
opened there was something left there from her, something that I had
long forgotten about: one box contained a picture of her in a Santa
hat smiling that brilliant braces-laden grin, another her carefully crafted
handmade ornaments, another one a hand-written card in her just-learning-to-print
handwriting, and on and on so many memories. I realized that in a sense,
these were Nina's gifts to me now that she wasn't physically here. She
was giving me the gifts of memories….beautiful memories that were
given in love. Those memories will only increase in value as the years
go on. They are invaluable because they are yours and yours alone.
No one can ever take those priceless memories away. Though they may hurt
now and probably always will but not as intensely, give yourself
a gift…..the gift of emotion and allow those healing tears to fall. Give
yourself time to grieve.
If I could give each of you a gift I would want to give you the gift
of peace, as much peace as you can possibly find. And the hope that you
can remember some of the joy and love that was yours from Christmases past.
Iowa Christmas Card
The days have turned to winter one more time,
The light behind your trees is pale with snow –
That glow of giving gifts and singing songs
Soon comes to warm the season and the heart.
And I try sending Christmas thoughts your way
To fill you house with comfort and with peace
But most of all I hope and wish that you
Will not be hurt too deeply, nor too long.
~reprinted from Wintersun
Gifts, Garland and Grief
by Sandy Goodman
I remember our first Christmas after. It began the first week of November
in 1997, three short months into our worst nightmare, but a lifetime into
missing our child of eighteen years. He had died suddenly, one of those
“in the wrong place at the wrong time” things, and he took our hearts with
him when he left. Summer screeched to a halt and autumn came and went without
Still standing in confusion at the threshold of grief, we were stunned
when the stores replaced the gloomy ghosts and goblins with sparkling ornaments
and cheerful decorations. Neighbors strung lights on their houses, friends
sent cards wishing us joy filled holidays, and not one person mentioned
Jason’s name. Closing our drapes, we huddled in our cocoon, waiting for
Thanksgiving passed. I recall the empty chair, the unbroken wishbone,
and more turkey than three of us could eat. There was an unwatched football
game and a failed attempt at gratitude. That was our day, and it was good
enough. It was inconceivable that we would ever enjoy another holiday,
much less be thankful for it.
Snow fell. Carols rang out, lights twinkled, church bells pealed. Our
thoughts were of Jason, fixed more acutely on his departure than on his
arrival eighteen years before. Memories of prior Decembers pervaded our
present. Jason ice fishing. Jason sledding. Jason’s birthday. Jason opening
gifts. Jason throwing tinsel on the tree, on his brothers and on the dog.
Every memory brought tears but every tear brought Jason closer to us.
We found him in the pain, the only place we knew how to get to. I believe
that first Christmas had to be that way. Showing up was the best we could
But now it is six trees, six silent nights, and six collectable ornaments
later. I’ve learned a few things about this path I’m on and found a few
crutches for when the road gets too rough. Holidays can be disabling for
those who grieve. I’d like to share some things that might help:
—Believe that your loved one is with you. Include them in your celebrations
and in your sadness. Include them when you talk with others about old times
and holidays past. If you don’t mention them, no one else will.
—Talk to THEM. They hear your thoughts...and if you listen, you can
hear their replies.
—Light candles. For six years now I have lit a special candle for my
son. This year I will light five, one for
each of us, living or not. Why perpetuate the myth of separation? Jason
is still a part of this family.
—Do good things in celebration of your loved one’s life. Random Acts
of Kindness(www.actsofkindness.org/) bring smiles to everyone involved.
Buy anonymous gifts, scoop snow from a stranger’s sidewalk, or light candles
at unmarked graves.
—Connect with your loved one who has died. Buy yourself a holiday reading
with a reputable medium, take a meditation class, create a special place
to go to where you can feel their presence.
—Call a newly bereaved friend or neighbor and invite them to reminisce
with you. Cry with them, listen to them, share your journey.
—Give to an organization that your loved one supported.
—Make a memory tree. Buy a small tree and decorate it with tokens of
—Don’t worry about what others will think. You are solely in charge
of this journey. It’s all yours. Love someone who is grieving? Lost as
far as how to help them through this upcoming season? Any of the above
suggestions can be adapted (i.e. give money in celebration of their loved
one’s life and tell them about it, make them a memory tree, etc.) to fit
your needs. However, there are two gifts that you can give to a person
deep in the pit of grief that will mean more than anything else:
1. Undivided attention
2. Unconditional acceptance of their journey, wherever it leads them.
I won’t end this article with a wish that you have your merriest Christmas
ever. I know that, for some of you, that is not possible or even desirable.
Instead, my wish for you is this: That you find a quiet moment during the
sometimes magical but often horrendous season upon us and relax. That you
take a few deep breaths, close your eyes and envision your child, sibling,
or grandchild. That you accept that dead doesn’t mean GONE. That you send
out a “Merry Christmas” and “I love you” and then BELIEVE when you hear
his or her whispered reply of “I love you too. Merry Christmas.”
Editors Note: Sandy Goodman is the author of LOVE NEVER DIES: A Mother’s
Journey from Loss to Love
~reprinted from BP USA Fall 2002 Newsletter
Memory Candles – shared by Cathy Seehuetter, St.
First Candle: This candle represents our GRIEF. The pain of losing
you is intense. It reminds us of the depth of our love for you. "Our
joy and our sorrow are inseparable."
Second candle: This candle represents our COURAGE - to confront our
sorrow - to comfort each other - to change our lives. "Even like
a chain we are as weak as our weakest link. This is but half the truth.
We are also as strong as our strongest link."
Third candle: This light is in your MEMORY - the times we laughed, the
times we cried, the times we were angry with each other - the silly things
you did, the caring and joy you gave us. This light is also for the memories
that never were. Even though our memories can bring pain, in time we will
look upon our memories of you as yesterday's gifts to the heart.
Fourth candle: This light is the light of LOVE. As we enter the holiday
season day by day, we cherish the special place in our hearts that will
always be reserved for you. We thank you for the gift of your love. We
thank you for the joy your living brought to each of us.
Fifth Candle: This candle is the light of HOPE. It reminds us
of love, and memories of you that are ours forever. May the glow of the
flame be our source of hopefulness now and forever. We love you.
The holiest of all holidays are those
Kept by ourselves in silence and apart;
The secret anniversaries of the heart.
~Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
Oh tender child in heaven above
We gather tonight to send our love.
See our candles down here below
Hear our voices tell how we miss you so.
Each tiny flame that you see
Each one speaks of a memory.
Tender child both young and old
Your spirit lives on in our stories told.
Look down now and see the glow
Of the lights of our candles here below.
And as we gaze into heaven above
Then we will exchange our prayers of love.
Tender child this December night
In honor of you our candles light
Burning gently into this night.
Scene from our child's view how beautiful the candles glowing across
the globe must be.
May God Bless you all and be with you this season.
Sheila Simmons, TCF Atlanta
Making Music With What You Have Left
by Jack Riemer, Houston Chronicle
On Nov. 18, 1995, Itzhak Perlman, the violinist, came
on stage to give a concert at Avery Fisher Hall at Lincoln Center
in New York City. If you have ever been to a Perlman concert, you
know that getting on stage is no small achievement for him. He was stricken
with polio as a child, and so he has braces on both legs and walks
with the aid of two crutches.
To see him walk across the stage one step at a time, painfully
and slowly, is an unforgettable sight. He walks painfully, yet majestically,
until he reaches his chair. Then he sits down, slowly, puts his crutches
on the floor, undoes the clasps on his legs, tucks one foot back and extends
the other foot forward. Then he bends down and picks up the violin, puts
it under his chin, nods to the conductor and proceeds to play.
By now, the audience is used to this ritual. They sit quietly while
he makes his way across the stage to his chair. They remain reverently
silent while he undoes the clasps on his legs. They wait until he is ready
But this time, something went wrong. Just as he finished the first few
bars, one of the strings on his violin broke. You could hear it snap-
it went off like gunfire across the room. There was no mistaking what that
sound meant. There was no mistaking what he had to do.
People who were there that night thought to themselves: "We figured
that he would have to get up, put on the clasps again, pick up the crutches
and limp his way off stage- to either find another violin or else find
another string for this one."
But he didn't. Instead, he waited a moment, closed his eyes and then
signaled the conductor to begin again. The orchestra began, and he played
from where he had left off. And he played with such passion and such power
and such purity as they had never heard before. Of course, anyone knows
that it is impossible to play a symphonic work with just three strings.
I know that, and you know that, but that night Itzhak Perlman refused
to know that.
You could see him modulating, changing, recomposing the piece
in his head. At one point, it sounded like he was DE-tuning the strings
to get new sounds from them that they had never made before.
When he finished, there was an awesome silence in the room. And then
people rose and cheered. There was an extraordinary outburst of applause
from every corner of the auditorium. We were all on our feet, screaming
and cheering, doing everything we could to show how much we appreciated
what he had done.
He smiled, wiped the sweat from this brow, raised his bow to quiet
us, and then he said, not boastfully, but in a quiet, pensive, reverent
tone, "You know, sometimes it is the artist's task to find out how
much music you can still make with what you have left."
What a powerful line that is. It has stayed in my mind ever since I
heard it. And who knows? Perhaps that is the [way] of life--not just
for artists but for all of us.
So, perhaps our task in this shaky, fast-changing, bewildering world
in which we live is to make music, at first with all that we have, and
then, when that is no longer possible, to make music with what we have