…and all through the house, not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse.”
As I prepared to write a blog post this week, my topic was going to be about tradition, particularly those traditions related to the Holiday season. Traditions are customs or beliefs that are handed down from one generation to the next. They give depth to our personal experience and connect us to generations past and future. In the holiday season, traditions of reading stories, attending religious ceremonies and gathering with family and friends are common and expected. This is typically a time of happiness and joy.
And then I read that Claire Davis, the 17 year old victim from the Arapahoe High School shooting, has died. Somehow, writing about the joy surrounding Christmas and all of its traditions seemed inappropriate.
Our community mourns Claire’s death, and the deaths of all of the innocent victims of this epidemic of violence that has fallen on our country. While many of us celebrate our own holiday traditions with excitement and joy, there is an entire community that mourns her loss. Her family and friends will not be celebrating Christmas, at least not the way that they had planned. They will be practicing another tradition, however.
One tradition that exists among all cultures over many centuries is the ritual surrounding death. While this is not a joyful experience, it is especially important to practice. This is a time to recognize the loss and the memories that have accumulated over time. It’s a time to express the sadness and grief that follows their loss. It’s a time to try and make sense of the senseless, in this case something that’s especially difficult. It’s a time to say goodbye.
This Christmas, many families will celebrate the joy of the holiday. They’ll practice old traditions and create new ones as their lives change. The excitement subsides but the memories live on. And so it goes with Claire Davis. Her family and friends have been able to celebrate the joy of Claire for 17 short years. And now, they are left with the memories that she leaves behind. I am sure that their lives were never the same when she was born and now, their lives are forever changed by her death.
Lisa Ransford, LPC, CACII is a member of The Therapist Group at Maria Droste Counseling Center.
If you are struggling with grief this holiday season, you are not alone. Counseling can help to unlock the “stuckness” of our pain, to facilitate acceptance of the loss, and to find a “new normal” life without our loved one, but with memories we can cherish. If you would like to speak to a therapist, contact our intake department at 303-867-4600.