A Story of Choice and Community After Loss

Hear this and more on our brand new podcast


When things seem so out of control, what do we do? 

This is the question that everyone who experiences loss must face, and as Judy Pedersen found while leading a grief support group, the first step can come from the most unexpected places. One young mom came in who had recently lost her husband. They had two young kids, and she was bereft. It was getting close to the end of the year. She wanted to make a beautiful Christmas for her kids, but she couldn’t imagine a way to make that happen under the weight of her grief. 

Every year, her husband used to decorate the entire house—inside and out—leading up to Christmas. Of all the decorations he put up, his favorite were the blue lights he used to cover the bushes and trees outside. To him, blue was the perfect color for Christmas lights, and blue lights became part of this family’s annual Christmas tradition. 

His grieving wife struggled to decide if and how she could replicate the Christmas spirit with their children, and so for many weeks, she felt herself paralyzed. She couldn’t find the inspiration and energy to bring out the Christmas decorations from the attic and start putting them up. Christmas came closer and closer, and she felt the weight of the choices she just couldn’t make. 

One night after dinner, she glanced outside the window and saw that her entire lawn was covered in blue lights. The family’s neighbors knew about their tradition, and they took it upon themselves to decorate the lawn to honor their friend and neighbor. These neighbors were grieving too. They loved this young family and mourned the death of such a young man.

This mom was so moved by their kindness and motivated by the beauty of the lights that she decorated the entire rest of the house in time for Christmas, too. 

After Christmas, she shared that it hadn’t been as bad as she feared. She and her kids opened presents, talked about their dad, and got through the day together. The choice she’d wanted to make—to create a Christmas for her kids, despite their loss—had gotten stuck in the pain of her grief. But the help of her friends bolstered her. Their choice to decorate the yard empowered her to celebrate Christmas the way she had wanted. They helped her choose to embrace the holiday, in spite of her grief, alongside her children. 

This is just one of many stories that we shared and will continue to share in our new podcast, The Grief to Grit Podcast. We hope you will listen, share, and find hope in stories and questions about how to make the journey from grief to resilience and little less lonely. If you’d like to ask a question, learn more, or join us as a guest, reach out to us at podcast@ourheartsofhope.org.

Photo courtesy of Unsplash