It’s Hard To Be Without Them During the Holidays

by Guest Author, Brian Berry-Berlinski,
Live At Choice Starfisher Coach



Holidays are times when family and friends gather and create new memories.  Then there comes the time when you lose one of your loved ones.   I remember our first Christmas without my grandmother.  For me, she played the role of a second mom, especially since my mother had passed away when I was three years old.   She filled in the spot of mom for me; therefore, her passing felt like losing mom all over again.


In my large Italian-American family, my grandmother played the pivotal role of the hub of the family.  Everyone depended on her to receive updates about relatives.  She kept track of who was coming to holiday gatherings, and she had everyone’s gift wish list.  And if all of that wasn’t enough, she made holiday gifts six months in advance – beautifully hand-painted houses and figurines for our ceramic village collections.   I remember helping her put on the finishing touches on the figurines, the details that were too small for her to see clearly.


I can still smell her famous homemade Christmas cookies, especially the fried dough balls drizzled with honey, called strufoli.  But most noticeably, I felt a huge lack of her presence… I wondered what happened to her unconditional love that seemed to fill the room with good cheer, where had it gone, and what can I do to have it back?


The joy of the holidays has returned for me, and they can for you.  I have connected with the abundance of the holidays rather than the lack due to the loss of both my mom and grandmother.


After I had the experience of the Beyond Circumstances workshop, I discovered a whole new way of experiencing relationships and how to experience these relationships every day, as well as the holidays.


Before, I had dwelled on what was missing from my life and the holidays… my grandmother… my mother… sometimes my sister, who spent the holidays with us every other year.  The more I looked for the things that were missing, the more I experienced the sadness of not having them.


I have come to realize that everything about my mother and my grandmother are still with me.  And with this slight shift in my perspective I can feel my grandmother’s spirit with me as I make pizzelles, bringing one of her traditional cookies into my children’s holiday experiences.   In a quiet moment I can feel my mother’s love fill my heart to the brim, her voice whispering to me letting me know that she is present to the joy of watching me and my family celebrate Christmas together.   I am rich in the abundance of their lives as I move forward with my own extended family.  My partner and I celebrate, share old memories, and create new ones with our children.  It is far more joyful than focusing on what is missing.


Rich and abundant I feel, through the lives of those with whom I have shared time…for them I am grateful!  May you also enjoy this peace!



  1. Maurine Xavier on December 11, 2012 at 8:00 pm

    Beautiful. A new rendition of what we focus on grows!
    Who we are is felt at a soul level by those we are with as well.

    Thank you for sharing and making the free choice to honor the memory of your lived ones in a new way.

    Happy Holidays.

    • Belanie Dishong on December 18, 2012 at 5:23 pm

      Maurine, Thanks for commenting on the article shared by Brian, one of our incredible certified coaches. He really shared his heart in this article and am so thrilled it brought about one new way for you to experience… “what we focus on grows!” It certainly does! Happy Holidays to you as well. Belanie

  2. Robin on December 11, 2012 at 9:04 pm

    Awesome…I love it! As I read this I was smelling my Grandmothers homemade hoska cooking in the oven and seen myself playing in the snow with my little brother 🙂

  3. Tina Landa on December 11, 2012 at 9:08 pm

    Great post for this time of year! We need to remember to FOCUS on the abundance that we have and not that which we miss…

    Thanks for the reminder!

    • Belanie Dishong on December 18, 2012 at 5:20 pm

      Tina, thanks so much for your comment. We are all far more abundant that we often stop to experience. I think when I focus on the abundance, I then live in the reality of gratitude, which brings me much peace. May your gratitude journal, be it written or in memory be one that is filled with your awareness of the abundance in your life…now and in years to come.

  4. Roseanne on December 12, 2012 at 9:19 am

    What a great reminder of being in the NOW.

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