Surviving a Loss During the Holidays

                           Richard Lopes                                          Lori (Lopes) Cahill

          Richie.2    Lori Water Raffing

The shock of losing my daughter, Lori (Lopes) Cahill on November 22, 2006 from alcohol abuse after losing my husband, Richard Lopes, from the same illness was bad enough, but now the reality, and almost disbelief, that November 22, 2015 will be the "ninth" anniversary of her death. Richie died in 1985, "thirty years" ago from the same alcohol addiction. 

How did I survive the years of pain and loss? I guess from survival and the daily habit of waking up, putting both feet on the floor and facing another day. Sometimes I went months not thinking of Lori and had the guilt of "How could I push her in the back of my mind?"

Now another holiday comes...Thanksgiving. We had to take Lori off life support two days before Thanksgiving. To add to the pain, the holiday had us wait another five days before putting her to rest next to her father. A holiday that I didn't want to celebrate or be with anyone. Grabbing a pillow and a blanket and rotting on the couch was my true desire. 

Lori has a sister, Debbie Dutra, from Berkley, Massachusetts, a daughter, Meagan and her son, Joe. Brian and Debbie took Lori's two children into their home with their daughter, Kerri and son Michael, and loved them just as much as their own. The four cousins were always together. Lori loved family gatherings.

They were the reasons I sat at the table with an empty seat without Lori and tried to give my love to the family feeling like myself. No one spoke of the loss. Debbie's mother-in-law said the meal prayer that I always did because only tears came to my eyes. The words were crushing my throat, and I asked myself "What is there to be thankful for this holiday?" 

I wondered how Debbie had the energy and want to put the dinner on at her home two days after Lori's death. God had His reasons and Lori left us a lot. No one knows the pain of losing anyone, especially a child, until the tragedy happens to us. My parents lost my brother, Walter, at seven from polio and I never knew their true pain until Lori's death. 

I will again be happy at our family gathering having our health and the food on the table. 

A month later, Christmas will arrive and another holiday brings happiness and sadness at the same time. Shopping at the malls with the glitter, colorful Christmas trees, decorated windows, and a Santa with a child on his lap used to be my joy. Christmas songs at the stores, broke my heart and I'd fight back tears.   

I wrap gifts knowing a present with a tag for Lori will be missing. She used to open Debbie's door with Meagan and Joe and yell, "Hello, we're here," as they struggled carrying a handful of gifts for all when I knew she had a hard time with money. 

Yes, Thanksgiving and Christmas are wonderful days. Giving my talks and signing my books makes me realize, when readers open up to me, how many people are living in pain from losing a family member to alcohol or drug addiction. 

Families around the world, who have lost someone to the terrorist attacks are going to be in pain. These deaths have no answer except their loved ones where in the wrong place at the wrong time. 

Life is not fair when it comes to death. It's how we are going to live our lives from the tragedy that is important. I feared standing up in front of people and talking, but God had plans for me to write my books and talk to addicts and their families. It's not easy bringing the raw pain back.

We have so many "if only, I could have, why didn't I, how did we miss it, or why did we send them there?" Questions with no answers. They were taken from us and we have to go on to help others. 


               Alberta Sequeira

All her books are in paperback and Kindle at

Her email is [email protected] if you want a quote for a talk. welcomes thoughtful comments and the varied opinions of our readers. We are in no way obligated to post or allow comments that our moderators deem inappropriate. We reserve the right to delete comments we perceive as profane, vulgar, threatening, offensive, racially-biased, homophobic, slanderous, hateful or just plain rude. Commenters may not attack or insult other commenters, readers or writers. Commenters who persist in posting inappropriate comments will be banned from commenting on