Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Coping With Loss And The Holidays Part I

Today, I'm happy to introduce a guest blogger, my sister Teresa Alfieri. Her story is the first of a three-part series on coping with loss of a loved one and the holidays that I shared during the 2011 holiday season. Grief during the holidays overwhelms everyone at some point, so I decided to re-run the series this year. I hope you will be blessed by these messages.
Welcome Teresa and thank you for sharing from your heart! 
Christmas came four months after my husband Sal died. I believe I was so thankful he was no longer in pain that I did not begin to process his death until then. Christmas was his favorite time of year and those who knew him, knew he was very sentimental, emotional, and had a big heart. He was often referred to as a “Big Teddy Bear.” Sal loved surprises and was like a child on Christmas morning anxious to open the presents. 
This is why the grief was so overwhelming that first Christmas. I felt like I was drowning. I couldn’t escape from the pain that had a grip on my heart. I decided one night during the week before Christmas that I would get in my car and just drive away. Then, rational thinking stepped in, and I amended the plan to drive 40 minutes away to O’leno State Park and visit the place Sal and I had enjoyed so many times in the past. 
When I arrived at the park, I sat in my car for a long time, fearful to go by myself into the woods, but more fearful of what would happen to my state of mind if I did not. I wrestled with the fear and then set off to hike. I savored happy memories on this first of many trips to the woods. My brain stopped racing with the sadness, and I felt rejuvenated when I was through. The pain did not go away, but I began to work through it. I became angry any time I saw an elderly couple holding hands and the realization would come to me again—I would never grow old with this “Big Teddy Bear” of a man. All the dreams we had shared had been wiped away when he was diagnosed with Pancreatic cancer. 
Throughout my life, I’ve had a strong faith, knowing that God was with me. There were times I would sit by the water in the woods having serious conversations with Him, asking the same questions over and over. “Why?” “Why does a loving God allow any human to suffer the pain that Sal did?” I had very profound thoughts during that time that scared me; thoughts about the life after. I believe it was part of the healing process and growing in my faith. 
Music was another part my healing. I became familiar with YouTube and the availability of Christian Contemporary music. Casting Crowns “Praise You In This Storm” became my daily mantra.
Where was my family during this time? They were right there trying to console me. I appreciated their love and concern. But the pain was too great to share with them. I needed my God, the God who is so good to me, to walk me through it, sometimes holding my hand, sometimes carrying me in His arms.
Now, several years later, the pain has become less, perhaps more tolerable. When the Christmas season arrives with all its sights, sounds, and smells, I may always have those feelings of loss. But now they do not consume me. My faith continues to grow stronger. I know God is in the air I breathe, not just available during loss or crisis, but walking with me, daily.
My advice to others grieving during this Christmas season is to find some sort of activity you enjoy and take God with you on your journey. Take it from someone who has been there—He helped me walk through the pain!
~Teresa Lynn Alfieri
“Then they cried out to the LORD in their trouble, and he brought them out of their distress. He stilled the storm to a whisper; the waves of the sea were hushed.” Psalm 107:28-29
Praise Report:
Courtney’s MRI last week was even better than the ones she had in September and July, according to her oncologist. Please continue to lift her up in prayer as she battles cancer. This is a note from her Caring Bridge site:
We just wanted to thank everyone for praying for Courtney especially on Wednesday. God answered our prayers once again. Dr. Peters was very happy over how her MRI looked and again said that the cavity where the tumor was has very defined borders, and a small contrasted area they saw below the cavity, appeared smaller than what they saw on the last MRI. They are leaning toward believing that the area is scar tissue from the previous radiation. Dr. Peters was thrilled to see Courtney looking so well.
We have so much to be thankful for and so appreciate once again the answered prayers. He truly does have Courtney in the palm of His hands! Our next MRI at Duke will be in late January. We are looking forward to going through the holidays with a positive report behind us and being able to relax a bit and enjoy Addison [Courtney’s 18-month-old daughter] this year at Christmas. She loves looking at the Christmas trees and decorations and we know she will enjoy opening presents and getting new toys.
I don’t have anything to add to those inspiring words from Courtney’s family! The permanent prayer list is above. Would you take a moment to say a prayer for those listed? The holidays are a tough time for families with loved ones battling chronic disease. 
Cassie and Jesse

Also, Sgt. Jesse McCart continues rehab as you can see from the photo on the right. As I get updates, they will be posted on his page above.

God bless,
© Laura Hodges Poole


  1. Thank you for sharing your heart, Teresa. This is the first Christmas in four years that grieve hasn't cast a shadow on my happiness. While I miss my dad (and am grieving the recent loss of my father-in-law) God has given me peace so that I can enjoy these moments instead of living in the past. I'll see my dad again (and my father-in-law). They both loved Christmas and I want my son to love it too and not wonder why "mommy's always sad this time of year."

    Thanks Laura for sharing the praise reports!

    1. Good insight about grief and your son. You're in my prayers. I'm glad you stopped by and shared your experience.

  2. Hi Laura.

    Just stopping by to thank you taking the time to comment. I hope you'll join us for more writing prompts :) Oh, and btw, I LOVE Casting Crowns. Have to be one of my favorite bands.

    Hope you have a safe and happy holidays. God bless you,
    Megan Wille, author

    1. Thanks, Megan. I enjoyed your blog. I'll check back again. God bless you, as well.

  3. ZhLeet is a community with over 250 members and we all are fighting cancer. We can be your friend too.

  4. After nearly 20 years, I still miss my two brothers and a sister who were killed in a car accident in front of me on the way to my father's funeral just before Christmas. But God's grace IS sufficient, and each year it is not as painful...

    1. I'm sorry for your loss of so many loved ones. Thank you for sharing the testimony of God's grace in your life. God bless you.