Letter to Levi: Navigating grief this holiday season

Letter to Levi: Navigating grief this holiday season
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Dear Levi,

I miss you.

I don’t get to tell you that very much these days. Every morning, I wake up – put on a smile, and deliver the news. I don’t get to talk about you, or about my broken heart. Sometimes, I’m ashamed to say, I try to pretend I never lost you, just to get through the day.

But we did lose you. We were devastated when the sheriff told us about your car crash, and when Mom and Dad had to bury their only son. Two months later, as we approach our first Christmas without you, your absence seems to be growing louder.

This is how I will navigate my grief without you this December.

The experts say I have to acknowledge my loss – I can’t sweep it under the rug.

So I will talk about our memories, and about how much we miss you during our holiday traditions. Like when we pick out our Christmas tree – every year, we’d go with Mom and Dad. You always had the honor of cutting it down.

Do you remember that one year you picked a tree with a crooked trunk? None of us noticed until it fell over in the living room. I love that memory.

This season, I will also reach out for support – because I know we’re not alone in missing you. We are blessed to have a big family who will take care of us — who misses you, too.

Lately, you’ve made that family a little bigger. People have come from all over southwest Wisconsin to tell us about how you changed their life – in the gym, as a personal trainer, and out of the gym, too. They’ve shared their memories and warmed our hearts.

I know this big, extended family will keep your memory alive – that’s how they’ll find healing, too. They even came up with a saying – Live like Levi – because that’s what you taught all of us to do.

That’s what I will try to do this Christmas: find meaning in our loss. I know there is some good we can still do, because of what we’ve been through. I will find healing in living like you.

I have always been so proud of you, my little brother, and all your accomplishments.

I’m still proud of you. I hope you know that.

I will continue to wake up every morning, missing you – especially this Christmas. Even though it hurts – I will still smile through our newscast. I will go home to Highland for the holidays, to hold our parents. We won’t ever forget you. We won’t stop talking about you, and you will always inspire us to live like Levi.

Love, your big sister.

If you or someone you love is navigating grief this holiday season, find a list of tips along with a full interview with UW Health Psychologist Shilagh Mirgain here .