By Fara Gold McLaughlin

When you are a senior living community resident, like me, celebrating the holidays isn’t always joyful. The holidays and a new year amplify the loss of loved ones estranged or no longer alive. These losses are never recognized or acknowledged.

Operators of senior living communities hang bright lights, Christmas trees, and decorations to celebrate the holidays. However, most residents are grieving the loss of a spouse, child, or parent, or simply the distance from loved ones long deceased or too far away to share in the holiday festivities. Residents may burst into tears during the singing of a Christmas carol or become reclusive, not participating in the holiday festivities.

Another New Year Begins

Another new year begins with no place to place these losses of loved ones and the subsequent grief.

A way through this loss and grief for me is to light the Yahrzeit traditional Jewish remembrance candle on the day of my beloved father’s death, January 2. I have often considered how lighting candles during the longest night of the year or winter solstice is celebrated by many holiday traditions in December and might serve as a way to remember lost loved ones too.

Another tradition which could lift spirits is a place of honor, like a wall to place a photograph of lost loved ones or simply a place card at a table seating for a festive meal. While the person is no longer living, they are very much alive in our hearts.

New Year Is Filled With New Possibilities

While December may be festive for many, it can be dreadful for many too. For me, the day after my father’s death is a time when my heart feels lighter and I can see the new year is filled with new possibilities. This year was especially sweet on the day of my father’s death to see his alma mater, Tulane, win a championship game. Now I really feel like the new year may be happy.