Merry holidays may also take a toll on emotions - WOWK 13 Charleston, Huntington WV News, Weather, Sports

Merry holidays may also take a toll on emotions

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MASON COUNTY, WV -

Annette Boyles unexpectedly lost her son, Kevin, in April of 1997 to an undetected heart condition.  She says losing a child is every parent's worst nightmare.

Boyles describes the feeling of losing your child as being stabbed in the heart by a knife.  Although time has not taken away her grief, she has learned to live with it.  She explains that over time that knife dulls a bit and the pain will ease, but you never run out of tears.

Celebrating the holidays in a new way helped the family cope at first.  She says they made a decision to celebrate in a different way that year by going on a trip with just the immediate family.  Looking back on it, she admits it was probably unfair to their extended family, but it was how they dealt with their grief at the time.

Memories can sometimes bring people pain for what has been lost, but they can also bring relief.  Boyles says they continue to carry out Christmas traditions such as hanging Kevin's stocking with the rest of the family's stockings.  Boyles says in the past she has even wrapped gifts for Kevin as part of her grief process.

Although Boyles says she will never be ok with the fact that her son is gone, it has made her appreciate her family more.  She explains that you try to focus on the people who are there that you love and not focus on what you have lost.

That is exactly how she can continue to celebrate the holidays.  Boyles says, "it does make you smile to know that Kevin would want you to celebrate as if he had been here".

If you or a loved one is struggling with grief this holiday season, a support system including professional counseling can help.  There are many options from seeing a psychologist to grief counseling at area churches.  Most hospices also provide special programs for coping with the holidays.  For more information, click on the links to the right.