Archive for January 1st, 2009

As I have been sharing this week, losing a loved one during the holidays is hard. I have also shared that my mother-in-law (MIL), who passed away the week before Christmas, and I were not close. Thankfully, birth and marriage are not the only two ways to build a family. If I had to rely on my family of birth and my family of marriage to meet all of my emotional needs, I would feel very lonely.

Fortunately, I have a very large family, and they are the family of my choosing. They are the friends and acquaintances in whom I invest myself in my day-to-day life. They have been incredibly supportive during this difficult time, even as they have had their own responsibilities to deal with so close to Christmas.

Over a dozen people showed up to my MIL’s funeral who only knew me. Some have met my husband in passing once or twice, but I don’t think any of them had met my in-laws. Numerous others would have come if the funeral had not been scheduled right when school let out for the day. These people did not come to the funeral, send condolences, make us food, call to check on me, and do all of the other loving things that they did because they felt a bond with the deceased. They did these things because they care about me.

I can never express my gratitude deeply enough to these many wonderful people in my life. They are my family, even if we don’t sit around the same table at Christmas. Some are like cousins who are there for you when the going gets tough but, otherwise, are not very close. Others are like sisters who set aside a couple of hours to take me to lunch when they could be preparing their own houses for their own family holiday celebrations.

I am so grateful that I have built a life for myself in which I have a support network. If this had happened a couple of years ago, I don’t think I would have made it through.

Photo credit: Lynda Bernhardt

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