Tackling Grief Chronicles: Recipe for Hope

With Thanksgiving tomorrow I thought it was apropos to share some of my grief thoughts of the holiday and how wonderful memories can give us feelings of hope rather than hopelessness.

The last big holiday I spent with my son Paul before he died was Christmas 2013. Since he was an assistant chef for a catering company in Los Angeles who provided gourmet meals for TV and movie sets, he decided to be our chef for Christmas dinner.

Through his job, he had the privilege and honor to cook for many celebrities you may have heard of, like JLo, Queen Latifah, Blake Shelton, Ashton Kutcher, and so on. He truly had found what he loved and it was exciting to see him so passionate about it.

I often shared with my children that finding what you loved to do most, doing it for a living and being paid well, is one of life’s biggest challenges, and greatest rewards.

Paul had that at 24.

For many of us, even myself, it takes years, even a lifetime, if ever to find that thing that you can’t fall asleep quickly because you can’t wait to wake up to do it.

Cooking and bringing joy through food gave Paul this most wonderful gift. If you check out his Facebook, you’ll see he didn’t post too often. When he did, it was mostly about food or his job. He was so proud of his work and his passion burned bright like the stars in the sky on a summer night camping in the woods far from the city lights.

When I gave his eulogy at his Life Celebration and shared this love of his, my heart was full of joy knowing he left here with that gift.

When I think about tomorrow and that my son won’t be at the table, in fact he won’t be at any table, it’s hard not to wish it wasn’t true.

But when I opened my social media this morning, I am reminded of a text between us about cooking for the holidays and a smile came across my face and filled my heart.

I remembered that he hated to see me sad and that while tomorrow won’t look like the holidays before he died, I can smile knowing he lived and lived life to the fullest until the very end.

So while we may still grieve their absence, I hope you will also cherish the memories and joy. I hope you’ll pull from the moments you shared and reflect on them with laughter and thoughts of happiness.

That in the midst of your loss you’ll find a recipe for hope for the future.

By: Kimberly Archie

One Reply to “Tackling Grief Chronicles: Recipe for Hope”

  1. Kimberly,

    So true and such a hard time of the year for those of us missing the face of a dearly loved and departed family member. I appreciate your courage in the face of such deep grief more than you will know and will draft off of your example this Christmas. Thank you for the encouragement to recall the warmth shared with our lost loved ones. Sometimes we need to be reminded to dwell not within the shadows of loss and that our family member would not have wanted to see us sad. Ryan also loved to cook and went through an intensive program in Orlando that culminated in a private holiday feast for the families of the trainees at the Magic stadium that really was quite fabulous! I have that happy memory of that day and recall how proud my son was seeing Uncle Ryan with his big white hat on working in the kitchen. To my surprise, my son was willing to try many new foods that day simply because Uncle Ryan (“Rockstar”) helped make them.

    I will be borrowing Paul’s cranberry sauce recipe to share with my family this upcoming holiday.
    Your lovely family and all of us suffering the loss of a loved one to CTE will be included in our prayers and blessings as we gather for our holiday meal on Christmas day. You and the entire CTE awareness community I’ve come into contact with have been a huge source of support and a blessing to me, so I will be giving thanks for that, too this year.

    Happy holidays and please keep up your courageous work! It’s important and we are behind you 100%.

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