The New Ornament

I bought a new Christmas ornament this week. If you’ve been following my recent posts, especially the last one, you probably know why.
A bell … with soft, cheerful colors … perfectly reflects the personality that was my mother-in-law.
Does the hidden interior surprise you?
The ornament was added … in memory of our loved one … to one of the many Christmas wreaths lining the hallways of the hospice facility where we spent the past ten days. For many families … yours? … grief is simply a part of this holiday season.

The wonderful chaplains here at the Hospice of East Texas offer suggestions for getting through the holidays. Perhaps you … or someone you know … can benefit from them.

  • Plan ahead
  • Set your own holiday tone
  • Decide what kind of celebration is best for you
  • Set realistic limits for yourself
  • Clearly communicate your needs to others
  • Feel free to express your emotions; cry whenever you need to
  • Allow others to grieve differently than you
  • Learn as much as you can about the grief process


Sarah Frances Nowell
July 22, 1920 – December 7, 2012

Have you ever experienced a family death during the holidays?
What helped you get through the festive season?


  1. Just wanted to let you know that I am still praying for you and for your family through this difficult time. I lost my sister to domestic violence the first week on January almost six years ago. I am a woman of faith and this was by far the most difficult thing I have experienced in all of my 53 years of life. The only way I got through it ( and still deal with it) is by focusing on the big picture of eternity and putting one foot in front of the other every day. When it first happened, I had to make a decision that that particular event was NOT going to rob me of my joy of life. While your situation is quite different, it will still be a challenge to deal with all of the various emotions at this time of year.I know that you know that God’s grace is sufficient. My prayer is that you can rest in His grace.

  2. Dearest Susan… our thoughts and prayers continue to be with you – your family as you find your way through the passing of your MIL. May you find strength in God and his many Angels to find peace, cherish the wonderful years and memories Sarah Frances.
    The bell ornament is lovely. Blessings, C. (HHL)

  3. Sweet Susan,

    I am deeply sorry for your family’s loss. Prayers and hugs directed your way.

    Love your symbolic, new ornament. It’s beautiful, my friend, like your MIL.

    Spirit of Christmas,

  4. Susan I am soooooooo sorry. You have honored your mother-in-law in the most special way…each post was so heartfelt and convicting at the same time. Your choice of an ornament is just wonderful. We got word yesterday on a very close uncle so we are going through this process right now also. Yes, over and over again God has reminded me to remember all those that the holidays brings loss of loved ones.
    Prayers and hugs for you and your family.

  5. Susan, what a lovely post! I really love the ornament you bought in your MIL’s memory. Wonderful idea! You and your family are on my prayer list. Thank you for being a powerful example of living faithfully through difficult times.

  6. My thoughts and prayers are with you. May God bring you peace and comfort. I lost both of my grandparents in December, years apart. It’s one day at a time. Our most difficult trial was losing my nephew a few years ago 4 days into the new year. We host a family NY Day meal each year. His parents weren’t here that year. But all the kids were. It’s now bittersweet as we remember Micah. He was only 26 years old. It’s still difficult, but we do remember Micah in our prayers before our meal.

  7. I am so very sorry. What a lovely picture of your MIL. My heart goes out to you and your husband and family. And that bell is a gorgeous ornament and a perfect choice.

    While I haven’t lost anyone on Christmas or Easter, my good friend Trish lost her mother AND her brother on Good Friday and her father close to Christmas. iBut whether is is in the heat of summer or at the heart of the holidays, it is just never easy to lose a loved one at any time, and I can imagine that the holidays would be the worst. My mother was very ill one Christmas, and that was the saddest Christmas ever. She recuperated after being told they didn’t think she would make it afterwards. And we had her for the next Christmas. It was like Lazarus being raised from the dead. And then she died the following May. But the hardest part for me is the hymns at church. I can be standing there singing and suddenly I’m so choked up (even after 22 years… I lost both my parents when I was young) that I can’t sing another note. It always happens on “Come All Ye Faithful” on the verse where it says, “Sing choirs of angels, sing in exhultation, sing all ye citizens of Heaven above!”

    My close friend Nancy lost her beautiful young newly married daughter in the fall before Christmas several years ago, and she and her husband decided that they were going to take a year off from presents and all of that. They decided that what they wanted to give their friends and family was the gift of their time. To stop and listen to others, really listen, because they wished they had listened and remembered every single little thing about their daughter. My friend hosts an annual Christmas party which was held at her co-hostesses house, and she had us share one important life lesson with the group. Then she collected them all to save and savor.

    Just take it one step at a time and try to stay focussed on the fact that she is celebrating in Heaven with the Lord Jesus at the best party ever! She is dancing down streets of gold. That’s how I have to think of Adelaide because I miss her so terribly at this time of year. I have concentrated on trying to make the holiday jolly for her family (who are like our own family) and do things that are fun and happy. When I get sad (as I was today), I choose joy instead. But people do understand, and so does the Lord. He’s there for you every step of the way. That’s the Good News.

    Hope this helps.



  8. She was beautiful.

    I’m taking a few moments this morning to visit blogs and catch up. I see that it has been three days since she passed. You’ve endured that walk of grief that comes immediately after the passing. At this point, you and your husband are likely attempting to “head back” to what is supposed to be normal.

    I missed the chance to grieve with you in a more timely way, but maybe that’s not a bad thing. Sometimes, it’s after the intensity of the funeral and all that surrounds us that we need the prayers of our friends the most.

    I’ve prayed this scripture so many times, but it never, ever gets old or fails me.

    Susan, may the peace of God, which passes all understanding, guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.

    Please tell your husband how sorry I am.

  9. I am so sorry to hear of Mrs. Nowell’s passing. I know the last couple of weeks+ have been very difficult at best for your family. My deepest sympathies to all, especially your husband. The ornament you bought in her honor is beautiful. Her spirit will be with you all in a very special way each year when you put up your tree. God bless you all during this difficult time.

  10. I’m sorry to hear of your loss. Sending you a hug. The bell is a beautiful way to honor her at this time of year… every time a bell rings, an angel gets her wings.