The holidays are quickly approaching. This often means family time and traditions. But when you’ve lost a loved one, the holidays can highlight how much has changed. Your loved one’s absence becomes glaring. The things that they used to do no longer happen. The things you did together stop.

We feel these moments. The loss of those times and our loved ones can’t be ignored. But instead of pure loss, perhaps we can experience feelings of sadness differently.

Making peace with your feelings, means allowing yourself to feel and honor them. When you feel sadness and grief over the loss of a loved one, it’s especially difficult. Do these feeling hurt? By God, yes. Are you sad beyond belief? Hopefully…

Why would I say this? I say this because, feeling sad means that the person you loss meant something to you. They touched your life. They made an impact on you. You connected with each other in a meaningful way.

Things that have meaning are connected to emotions. For example, just as the accomplishment of achieving a long-standing, challenging goal that you struggled to accomplish brings you joy, satisfaction, and pride. In contrast receiving a new key chain for opening a bank account means very little. More meaning, more feeling.

The depth and breadth of the feelings of loss are the measurement of how much that person meant to you. This is a good thing. Yes, those feelings can hurt. But think of this hurt and sadness not as pain and suffering alone. Think of this hurt as a tribute to your loved one. A tribute to how much you loved them. How much this person meant to you. Every tear shed is a brick laid in your monument of love. Ever hurt feeling felt builds the monument in your heart. You honor them with your tears and sadness. You honor their life. Their love. Their impact.

Your loved one was a significant person in your life. Expect to build for a while. You’re not building an instant tool shed. You’re building something honoring them. A monument in proportion to how much they meant to you. Big love, big monument. Allow yourself ample time. There is no time frame or dead line. You’ll naturally wind down building, when you’re ready. But please do build. Do not avoid building for fear of the work or hardship. Build anyway. Honor your loved one and how you feel about them.

In time all these tears and sad feelings, fill your heart not with loss but with your monument. Your happy memories. Your happy feelings. The joy of your time spent together.

Your monument helps transform sadness into tribute. In a strange way, there’s joy in building your monument. I am so sorry for your loss.