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Even though it’s a lovely 80 degrees here in Florida, everyone seems to be getting excited for the holidays. The Black Friday shoppers are already obsessing over their 28.7842% savings and cementing their battle strategies. Dianne couldn’t contain herself any longer so I dodged strings of ornaments at work as the boxes of decorations were retrieved from storage. My patients are chatting excitedly about their sons and daughters coming home from college and I’ve photocopied a recipe for red velvet cheesecake about 20 times this week. 

As much as I love to see the joy on their faces, my reality is much different. I am going to spend the holiday season attending funerals.

Have you ever attended a funeral for a child? I hate them. I hate how people cry and say that their deaths are tragic because they still had their whole lives before them, when really they didn’t. Some may think that is a terrible thing to say, but it is more of a comfort. A finality of sorts. Each natural death has a purpose and a timing no matter how tragic. Focus should not be shifted to the manner and the time of a person’s death instead of all the good they accomplished in their lives, no matter how short they were.

What I truly struggle with is comforting the family of those lost. There is nothing you can say or do to make things better because there is absolutely nothing to make it better. I’ll never forget pushing the door open and immediately knowing that something was terribly wrong. And why do people die all at once? The elderly, children, middle aged and even people my own age. All at once. Car crashes, motorcycle crashes, cancer, heart attacks… it’s the holidays. We are all supposed to be happy. We are supposed to look forward to being with our family, we shouldn’t be burying our family.

In some ways this is a sobering reality check… the happiest of times can also be the worst of times.