It was all about the Barbie bathtub.

I can remember it like it was yesterday– the moment when my younger sister Denise and I found the Barbie bathtub that I was going to get for Christmas. It was in a cedar closet my dad had built in the basement. I don’t think we were necessarily snooping around for gifts but we found them. And my Barbie family would also be getting a new nightstand. What a year for them!

This remains one of my favorite Christmas memories with my sister. Until she died, most of my Christmas memories involved her. During one of her last holiday seasons with us, she gave me a set of two glasses with Christmas trees from Marshall Fields. I remember looking at her funny and she said, “For when you have someone in your life.”

These are the moments we should remember. For many, this holiday season is filled with devastating pain, especially because the grief is new. Somewhere beneath those layers that topped the pain are the memories though. Dig deep and find them. Our loved ones want us to be happy.


Michelle Linn-Gust, Ph.D., President of the American Association of Suicidology, has spent the past nineteen years educating people worldwide about coping with loss and change following the suicide of her younger sister. Her eighth book, Conversations with the Water: A Memoir of Cultivating Hope, chronicles her grief journey as she moves forward beyond the suicide and loss field. Her first book, based on Denise’s suicide, Do They Have Bad Days in Heaven? Surviving the Suicide Loss of a Si..., inspired siblings around the world in their survival after a loved one’s suicide. Learn more about Michelle at


Image: Flickr Creative Commons / Elena Lagaria

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Comment by Alice wonder on January 7, 2013 at 12:20am

This article, is amazing and really points things into prospective. Really lovely.

Comment by Yvonne Sanchez on December 22, 2012 at 8:38pm

I lost my husband in April of this year and I am trying to cope with that loss. Me and the children talk about him and laugh at things he would be doing and saying this time of year. We  put up a tree and put a special ornament on it for him.  This time of year is extremely hard. I'm experiencing feelings I had not felt before. I pray that God grant me and our children the strength to have an enjoyable season. I love and miss him so much.

Comment by Dee Litz on December 22, 2012 at 4:44pm

ps:  I do know my husband loves me and wants me to be happy too. So that is another thought that I dearly hold on to for comfort.   *I love you, my precious husband, with all my heart.* BIG ((HUG))) and "kisses...on the lips!"

Comment by Dee Litz on December 22, 2012 at 4:33pm

Not just during these holidays, but ever since my dearly beloved husband passed away in August, I think of him being in the most happiest, peaceful, loving place: Heaven. And because I love him so much, I am very happy for him.

During the deeper times of my grief, that thought particularly brings me afloat...but not always...because no matter what, I miss him terribly, and want to be with him...especially since we are soul mates.

For me, one day is like the next, one season is like the next: the same struggle of keeping afloat without his physical presence.  So I guess I greive for myself that I am not with him.

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