By Erin Darst Hein
Christmas time. It’s the time of year for gathering your family close to you, sharing treasured memories, and making new ones together. For families who have lost someone dear, (no matter how long ago), the shared memories may feel bittersweet, but they are all the more precious to us.
When my dad closes a funeral, he often says, “Grief doesn’t stop when a funeral is over. Coming to the end of the service is only the beginning of a lifetime of opportunities to respect and honor that person’s name and their memory. How do you respect someone’s name? It’s easy: you speak it. How do you honor a memory? You share it.”
He told me once that most of us live our lives in a way that we hope will leave a legacy. A rich person might put his name on a building; a famous person might be lucky enough to get a statue made of their likeness; but a good person’s legacy is in the hearts of their friends. So don’t be afraid that reaching out and sharing a memory with a lost one’s family might bring them pain, because when all that is left of a person is memories, each story and smile that we share creates ripples that are that person’s legacy. There is no greater gift than to hear that your loved one is living on in more hearts than yours, that other people still smile when they think of that phrase he used to say or that silly thing she used to do. For most of us, tears and laughter are a given when we are grieving, but they are healing and they are precious. They are affirmations that a person was cherished and that their life was special.
If you, like so many of us, have a grieving heart this holiday season, we hope you will find small comfort in knowing that you are not alone. Sharing what you are going through with family and friends or a grief support group can help you get through the difficult holiday season. Additionally, we cannot emphasize enough the power and healing that you will find in taking a moment to write a note to your loved one. I know it might feel odd or even foolish at first, but even something as simple as, ‘Mom, I miss you’, will have new power on paper.
We invite you to visit our gardens anytime, and tucked next to the gazebo you’ll find a black locked mailbox that we call the Heaven Mailbox. We encourage you to write a note to your loved one and drop it in the slot. These letters will be mulched and planted in the spring along with wildflower seeds in our garden.
We hope you will stop by, drop your letter, and just spend a few minutes of peace in the memory garden.
Wishing you healing and hope from all of us at Darst Funeral Home.
— Erin Hein is the daughter of John Darst of Darst Funeral Home. She lives in Kingwood with her husband, Evan and their three children, Jack, Caroline and Ian. At Darst Funeral Home, we are always here in your time of need. You can reach us 24 hours a day, 365 days a year at 281-312-5656.