Vail Daily column: I said goodbye to a friend |

Vail Daily column: I said goodbye to a friend

The holidays are upon us, and many people will be spending time with family, friends and other loved ones. It’s a time of year with many different types of traditions. As well, this is a time of year when we should be thankful, count our blessings and help others.

The holiday season can be a very trying time for those who have experienced the loss of someone they loved. Memories of good times and friendship at the holiday season often remind us of our loss. Watching others who are feeling thankful and are celebrating when we feel overwhelmed, lonely or sad can sometimes be very painful.

Loss of a beloved valley resident

This past week, I was informed of the loss of someone here in the valley that touched the lives of me and my family. When my children were attending preschool, my wife and I would often bring our kids to visit him, his wife and a number of other locals that gathered at his business in the mornings. While my children were only between the ages of 2 and 4 at the time, I am very surprised that each of them holds so many fond memories of this individual, despite being at such young ages.

This gentleman touched our family for just a short blink of his life. However, his touch has had, and will continue to have, a very lasting effect. His infectious warmth, generous nature and smile will forever be with everyone who knew him.


One of the ways he shared his love and passion was by feeding people. His unique touch and special pinch of love added to everything he made helped make everything he prepared be distinctly better.

For me, this is very familiar. In what seems like another life, I used to have a career in catering. Sharing my passion and love of food with others used to, and still does, fill me with joy. Watching others enjoy something that makes their tummies and face smile is quite rewarding.

For me and many families, the holiday is foremost about sharing a good meal with family and friends. Just the thought of sharing stories, laughing and the commotion of people talking over other’s conversations fills me with pleasure. This year, my family will reminisce of someone who touched our lives and we will send our heartfelt thanks to his family for the opportunity given to us to know him.

For those mourning the loss of a loved one this holiday season, it can be an emotional and trying time. Coping with loss of a loved one, at any time, but especially during the holiday time when memories are stirred up with festivities and the expectations to be ebullient and full of holiday spirit, can evoke grief and depression for those still coping with loss.


There are no simple answers, no easy ways to get through these important, memory-laden days. Nevertheless, there are a few things that can help bring back some joy amid feeling of melancholy. One of the best and most useful tools to help relieve feelings of loss, guilt and confusion is to ask oneself what the deceased would have wanted.

More than likely, a loved one would want you to find a way to overcome your sorrow. For some, spending time with family and friends may work, while others may feel the need to spend time alone. There is no one-fits-all means to overcome such a loss. Everybody needs to experience the cathartic experience differently.

For those people that feel the need to be alone during the holidays, your family and friend should allow you the opportunity to do what you feel is best. However, be cautious of excluding your support system. Your friends and loved ones will understand that you may not be your normal lively and happy self. Just don’t isolate from holiday festivities out of fear of being a letdown.


Change is OK. If old family holiday traditions seem painful to let go of, consider modifying them to make them relevant to your current situation. While they will surely not be the same as they had been, there is meaning and solace to be found in new traditions.

• Allow yourself the latitude to create meaning in your own way.

• Create a ritual to honor someone who is no longer with you.

• Reevaluate and consider new ways of keeping old traditions meaningful.

I don’t want to attempt to be vainly profound, however, loved ones who have passed will always be with you. They are a part of you, and they have helped you become who you are. Help the grief subside by considering that you have become —better, different and wiser for having had them in your life.

Whenever I have a doughnut or pass a doughnut store, I will be fondly reminded of my friend. I am grateful.

Perhaps one of my favorite authors, Dr. Suess, said it so well, “Don’t cry because it’s over. Smile because it happened.”.

Judson Haims is the owner of Visiting Angels Home Care in Eagle County. For more information, go to or call 970-328-5526.

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