Loved One

Hi. This is your late loved one speaking. I don’t have long, so listen up because I have a lot I want to tell you.

First off, I get it.

Ever since I left this world you have missed me, and I know you’re bracing for the holidays without me. No matter what anyone says, this year’s festivities are going to be really tough.

In fact, let’s be honest, this festive season will probably suck pondwater. But then, Thanksgiving and Christmas are tough holidays for a lot of people. You’re not alone.

See, the misconception about the holidays is that they are one big party. That’s what every song on the radio claims. Each television commercial you see shows happy families clad in gaudy Old Navy sweaters, carving up poultry, smiling their perfect Hollywood teeth at the camera. But that’s not exactly reality.

In reality, fifty-eight percent of Americans admit to feeling severely depressed and anxious during November and December. In reality many folks will cry throughout the “most wonderful time of the year.”

Well, guess what? Nobody is crying up here in heaven. This place is unreal. There is, literally, too much beauty to take in. Way too much.

For starters—get this—time doesn’t even exist anymore. Which I’m still getting used to.

Right now, for all I know, the calendar year down on Earth could be 1728, 4045, 1991, or 12 BC. It really wouldn’t matter up here. This is a realm where there is no ticking clock, no schedule. Up here there is only this present moment. This. Here. Now. That’s all there has ever been. And there is real comfort in this.

I know this all seems hard to grasp, but if you were here you’d get it.

Also, for the first time I’m pain free. I feel like a teenager again in my body. You probably don’t realize how long I’ve lived with pain because I never talked about it, I kept my problems to myself because I was your loved one, and you needed me to be brave.

But pain is a devious thing. It creeps up on even the strongest person, little by little, bit by bit. Until pretty soon, pain becomes a central feature of life.

Sometimes my pain would get so bad it was all I thought about. No, I’m not saying that my life was miserable—far from it. I loved being on earth. It’s just that simply waking up each morning was getting exhausting.

But, you know what? Not anymore. In this new place, I am wholly and thoroughly happy.

But enough about me. I don’t have room to describe all the terrific things I’m experiencing, and you don’t need to hear them. Right now, you’re grieving, and what you need is a hug.

Which is why I’m writing to you. This is my hug to you. Because you’ve lost sight of me. And in fact, you’ve lost sight of several important things lately.

Death has a way of blinding us. It reorganizes the way you think, it changes you. You will never be the same after you lose someone. It messes with your inner physiology. It reorganizes you’re neurons.

But then, there’s one teensy little thing you’re forgetting:

I’m still around.

Yes, you read that correctly, I’m right here with you. No, you can’t see me. No, you can’t reach out and hold me. But did you know that one of the things I’m allowed to do as a heavenly being is hang out with you?

It’s true. I’m never far away. I’m in the room with you now, along with a big cloud of ancestors, saints, and witnesses. I’m shooting the breeze alongside you, watching you live your life, watching you raise your kids, watching your private moments of sorrow.

Here, in this new realm, I am in the perfect position to help you learn things. Which is what I vow to spend the rest of your earthly life doing, teaching you little lessons, lending you a hand when you least expect it, and desperately trying to make you smile. Actually, I’ve already been doing this stuff, you just don’t realize it.

What, you don’t believe me?

Well, wake up, pal. You know that tingle you get in your spine whenever you think of me? That’s me.

You know how, just yesterday, you had a beautiful memory when you were driving and it made you cry so hard that it actually felt good and you began to laugh through tears? Also me.

You know how sometimes when you’re all alone, preoccupied with something else, suddenly you get this faint feeling that someone is standing in the room with you? Hello? Me.

You’re not alone on this earth. You never were. You never will be. So during this holiday season, when cheerful families are getting together and making merry, and taking shots of eggnog, I’m going to be clinging to your shoulder, helping you muddle through somehow.

I’ll be making your spinal column tingle a lot, and I’ll be sending plenty of signs. Each of these signs—every single one—is code for “I love you.” So start paying attention to these hints.

Because this was one.


  1. SHEILA N SMITH - November 14, 2021 7:00 am

    Sean, I think this is one of your best stories out of so many great ones. Brought tears to my eyes and also smiles with many good memories.
    Thank you,
    Sheila Smith

  2. Norma Den🇿🇦 - November 14, 2021 7:04 am

    Wonderful words of love, yes I get it, well some of it, I constantly feel Mom & Dad near me, sometimes when I trot out some old t8me quotation or words they used. Be hugged by the sweet memories & remember we shall all meet again in the sweet bye and bye. May I mention an addendum to yesterday’s message, tomato ketchup(we call it sauce) is an absolute must on Mac cheese or any pasta dish, French fries ( we call them chips) are not the same without dipping them first. Anyone who raises an eyebrow, you don’t know what you’re missing. Blessed Rembrandt Sunday, lest we forget.

  3. Norma Den🇿🇦 - November 14, 2021 7:05 am


  4. Kathi Casteel - November 14, 2021 7:07 am

    I was just really missing my husband, gone 7 years now, when you dinged. Thanks you, Sean, this is one of your many bests.

  5. Pam Ratliff - November 14, 2021 7:54 am

    I sure needed this. God bless you. Best holidays possible to you and the wife. Big hugs from Fluffs mom.

  6. Joan Moore - November 14, 2021 11:47 am

    The best yet. I pray that God will bless you for all your help with this thing called Life. Love and hugs to Jamie.

  7. Audra S Isenhour - November 14, 2021 11:50 am

    Sean, do you mind if I have a quick word with my husband who is reading over my shoulder? Ike, you have been gone from this life for 8 years now and I know you are shaking your head at me because you see me getting ready to attempt another Norman Rockwell holiday season. I drove you nuts trying to make that happen for 46 years. Well, guess what? I have finally stopped trying. I will thank God for what I have and Praise Him for what He’s done. I am content. I am loved.

  8. mousamview - November 14, 2021 11:58 am

    My husband died 6 years ago and while I miss him dearly this is exactly how I feel and he makes me laugh all the time and some are real doozies! I talk to him more than I would admit to anyone because, well you know, I can feel the eye rolls just thinking about it. My favorite place to talk to him is every night in the hot tub. Yes, out there when the air temp is 10° and ice cycles on my hair. In fact I talk to everyone out there, say them all by name and I know they are all right there with me. It’s amazing when I say “what cool thing are you going to show me today and then BAM! something amazing appears. It’s gotten so I hardly go a night without seeing shooting stars because all I have to do is ask and I always say thank you. Sometimes people accuse me of “pretending” or looking through rose colored glasses and you know what, that’s OK because I know the truth. Sometimes I do cry and it’s ugly, and it’s the weirdest things that bring it on, but I’m always thankful for those salty drops. We got married late, it was my first marriage his second, we had 4 days shy of 14 years together we were hoping for at least 20 but it’s OK because I still celebrate with planning some new adventure and that feels good, he’s there with me. One of the last times he was able to speak he said, “sweetie what do you want me to come back as so you know it’s me?” My response was anything you want because whatever it is, I’ll know it’s you! Thank you Sean. It was so good to read this today and I especially thank you for the people who will read this that really need some hope and promise everyday and this time of year.

  9. Mary Grace Fisher - November 14, 2021 12:14 pm

    We read your stories, laugh a lot and ponder them. This was your best because it caused us to ponder our old ages, life’s blessing and how to live these moments of our past with thankfulness and joy! Tears of joy…we shed those! God is so good and we are blessed by Him! Thank you!

  10. Lisa K Riley - November 14, 2021 12:24 pm

    Ack. My husband’s been gone just a month and truthfully, I wasn’t looking forward to the holidays without him. He’s always been the buffer to my crazy family. Your timing is impeccable as always, Sean. I will share this with a friend who lost her husband two weeks before I lost mine. Thank you.

  11. Paul McCutchen - November 14, 2021 12:28 pm

    Just what I needed today. Happy tears.

  12. Heidi - November 14, 2021 12:53 pm

    When they are here on earth, they can only be with you part of the time. Now passed, all of the time. Watching, guiding, protecting. It’s such a huge comfort.
    Much comfort & love to you & Jamie during this time.❤️

  13. Connie Cagle - November 14, 2021 1:08 pm

    So many, including me, needed that. Thank you!

  14. Jan - November 14, 2021 1:23 pm

    Much needed reminder. Thank you, Sean.

  15. Suellen - November 14, 2021 1:31 pm

    The older I get the more friends and family I have on the other side. It seems to be snowballing. “After this I looked, and there before me was a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, tribe, people and language, standing before the throne and before the Lamb. They were wearing white robes and were holding palm branches in their hands. And they cried out in a loud voice:

    “Salvation belongs to our God,
    who sits on the throne,
    and to the Lamb.”

  16. Pam Williams - November 14, 2021 1:44 pm

    My mom left us on Christmas Eve almost 9 years ago. It never gets easier, but I always said she wanted to dance with Jesus on his birthday. Thanks for the joyful reminder.

  17. Robyn - November 14, 2021 1:53 pm

    Sean-I know you & yours needed todays column as much as the rest of us. Thank you always for what you write! Robyn

  18. Suzanne - November 14, 2021 2:23 pm

    How’d you know Sean that this was so needed?
    Thank You!
    Peace and Blessings to you and your Beloved as you walk through these “firsts” without your Mother-in-law.

  19. Trudy - November 14, 2021 2:26 pm

    This will be my first Thanksgiving and Christmas without my mother, just like Jamie. Thank you for this, Sean. It made me cry but in a good way. May God bless you.

    • Deb - November 15, 2021 3:00 am

      Me too. May we receive peace and grace.

  20. Melanie - November 14, 2021 2:34 pm

    I wish that every single one of the 191+ million could read this, Sean. ❤️

  21. Moggie - November 14, 2021 2:35 pm

    “I’m still around.”
    No. You’re not.

  22. Pamela Williams - November 14, 2021 2:38 pm


    • Moggie - November 14, 2021 8:48 pm


  23. BEX - November 14, 2021 2:59 pm

    My mother loved roses 🌹 and soon after she died, I would be driving and the car would fill with the sweet smell of roses…in winter. I told my mama I loved and missed her and cried. My dad also pops in to visit…especially when my brother and I are building something and can’t figure out how to put/nail or screw the sucker together. We sit down for a breather and tell stories about daddy. “We don’t need the instructions,” he said as he tossed them aside, only to have my brother and myself dig them out later! We think like Daddy and soon get it done, laughing as we finish.
    I know many others have ‘checked in’ on me everyday. That beautiful dragonfly that buzzes me, the smell of wood smoke in the fall, the advertisement on TV for a favorite family movie – all remind me that my loved ones are still here. I know I will see them when God calls me Home. God bless.

  24. Stacey Wallace - November 14, 2021 3:17 pm

    Thank you, Sean. Each morning I read your column aloud to my husband. However, I began to cry, so my sweet Mike finished for me today. I lost Daddy to Alzheimer’s in 2018, but I really lost him before that because he couldn’t remember my name. God bless you and Jamie. You will be in my prayers during the Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays. Love y’all.

  25. Candy Peterson - November 14, 2021 3:32 pm

    Thank you so much, Sean. I needed that so badly.

  26. Bunny Rittenour - November 14, 2021 3:44 pm

    Love this one, Sean! It’s my birthday & I have dear ones I miss. I’ll be even more conscious of their messages.

  27. jimwofford - November 14, 2021 3:47 pm

    Really good one Sean. Thanks!!

  28. Dorothy Holloway - November 14, 2021 3:59 pm

    This is a wonderful perspective on life after leaving Earth. Thank you

  29. DAVID A WILSON - November 14, 2021 4:00 pm

    Again, as usual, GREAT topic and GREAT writing! THANKS

  30. Robin Williams - November 14, 2021 4:22 pm

    Mama used to say to me, “Honeh, don’t think I’ve left you when I die. I’ll only be in the the next room”.
    I’m certain she’s with me. Especially when I’m trying to make pie dough like she used to. A sad and feeble attempt. She was famous for her pastry, as well as her gumbo and caramel cake.
    I can almost hear her sigh and shake her head.
    But she knows my crab gumbo almost rivals hers.
    So There, Mama. I’m not hopeless. I love you.

  31. Trish Ezell - November 14, 2021 5:50 pm

    Sean, I truly hope you don’t mind if I share this with some of my family who lost their daughter, sister and most of all, their Mother. They really need to hear this. In this loss, I no longer have this niece. The difference is, I’ve experienced several other losses in my life. I know of these things you write about. Now, I want to share it with others. Respectfully…..

  32. Gayle Wilson - November 14, 2021 6:07 pm

    Thank you Sean. That’s all I can say…thank you.

  33. NancyB. - November 14, 2021 6:15 pm

    Good morning Sean–Daddy has been gone since 1996, Mom since 2018. Even now, there are moments when the hurt is as bad as it was those first days without them, esp for Mom. With Daddy, it’s been long enough the sharpness of loss has dulled a bit. I know Daddy is with me when I get the car serviced. He was a stickler for taking care of his vehicles. I have tried to follow his example and it has worked. I have a 2008 Explorer sporting nearly 260,000 miles still going strong. He’s sitting at the kitchen table when I bake butterscotch chip cookies, one of his favorites. Mom is with me all the time in the kitchen. She was an awesome cook and baker. I find myself thinking, “Mom would add a bit of this even though it’s not in the recipe.” And so I do and the finished product is delicious! Mom is with me when I shop. I’ll be contemplating a purchase and hear her voice in my head–“Do you need that or do you just want it? In a month will you still be using/wearing it?” The times I haven’t listened, she has been right. In a month or two the item is in the back of a drawer or the back of my closet. Shoulda listened to Mom! Holidays are tough now. All of my parents’ generation are gone. My immediate family is small. Gatherings are now five not 55+. There are many cousins but most are wrapped up with their own families so there are no big family dinners now. However, I know Daddy and Mom are with us. We can’t reach out and touch them, but they are there. I feel their love. I see them in the faces of my nephew and great niece. They will always be with us. I know they now have a Heavenly address and I’m grateful for that. But, I miss them. Thank you for reminding me of all this today. I’m praying for you and Jamie. It could be a rough several weeks but Mother Mary is with you and she doesn’t want to you to grieve for her. She wants you to be happy. Retell the funny stories. Prepare her favorite dish. That’s what she wants–to know that she left you with laughter and happy memories. Rejoice in the holidays. Rejoice in her life and what you learned from her. And when sadness hits, be sad for a moment. But let the happy moments far outnumber the sad moments. That’s her wish for you. That your reader’s wish for you!

  34. Steve McCaleb - November 14, 2021 6:23 pm

    Thanks. I needed that.

  35. Susie Flick - November 14, 2021 6:48 pm

    Holidays are never the same after you lose cherished family and friends. When parents are gone, the “glue” that drew us all home for holidays isn’t there anymore. Even before my mother passed (too early for me) I knew it was hard for her to keep up all the traditions she enjoyed. That said, I took over Thanksgiving and Christmas – changed our family Christmas gathering to Christmas Eve so those with little ones could savor Christmas morning at home. When we were growing up every Sunday and holiday was at “the farm” – where my maternal grandparents lived. Everyone loved going to the farm no matter the reason. I miss all of those times and cherish every memory and know my Mom and dad are beside me whether I am entertaining family & friends or alone doing something I love. I am grateful every day and blessed to have such fond memories. Blessings to all that read your daily dose of common sense and wishes to all for some holiday happiness with those here and “there”. Hugs

  36. MAM - November 14, 2021 7:13 pm

    Truly the best reminder yet of what’s to come and of what’s still here with us. Thanks, Sean, for writing it in such a poignant, yet practical and easy to understand way. Hugs and blessings to you and Jamie for the holidays.

  37. Cathy M - November 14, 2021 7:58 pm

    What a great message to all of us who have lived ones on the other side. Too many to count for me at 73 but you are correct in that I feel their presence often and treasure every memory of each of them. Now I am watching my children and grandchildren grow and become wonderful people. My two eldest granddaughters have married and I can’t find one thing wrong with either of their husbands. Yes, it will be a tough holiday season for you and Jamie. No way around it. Pain is just a part of the grief journey. We will all be together one day and it will be glorious. I know it because I dreamed abt. It several years ago and I even saw friends of my grandmothers whom I had not thought abt. In yrs. it was a garden party and everyone was smiling. It’s all going to be wonderful but while we are blessed with another day, let us all be grateful for our blessings❤️

  38. Eileen Muzzey Hector - November 14, 2021 8:09 pm

    21 years ago today, I lost my mom during a procedure on the operating table. Couldn’t get through this one without a few tears. Early on after she passed, I wrote letters to her. Now I am satisfied feeling her presence when in need. Thank you for the reminders Sean of the South. You have a way with words.

  39. AlaRedClayGirl - November 14, 2021 8:16 pm

    That was beautiful, Sean… and so were all the comments. In the distant future, hopefully someone will be remembering us in the same way.

  40. Pamela J Ewers - November 14, 2021 8:21 pm

    thank you ! My momma just died oct 22nd of this year..I miss her but dealing with it. Your blog just helped me even more. so thank you.

  41. Becky+Souders - November 14, 2021 8:25 pm

    Thanks for these words, Sean. I am including peace and comfort… and in case you think this might be the voice of someone else, go ahead and think that.

  42. Ann - November 14, 2021 8:50 pm

    So timely and beautiful…it should help so many including you and Jamie…🙏🏻🥰

  43. Holly Layman - November 14, 2021 9:22 pm

    I am wrecked. But in the best possible way. Thank you for this, Sean. And thank you to everyone who’s commented and told their beautiful stories here.

  44. George Hefley - November 14, 2021 9:49 pm

    Wow! Most of the time I just give an eye roll to your ramblings. But, this one hit dead center bullseye! Thanks for the words of inspiration Mr. Deitrich!

  45. Kathie J Kerr - November 14, 2021 11:35 pm

    Well, it’s a beautiful thought anyway.

  46. Linda Moon - November 14, 2021 11:41 pm

    The loved one could be my Daddy talking to me. We “got” each other. I’ve written a poem about loved ones who’ve passed. I see my poem in its frame every day and think of all of them. Thank you, Writer, for reminding me of the many words and hints and codes from Daddy and the others who seem to have left just yesterday. Just yesterday my daughter and I talked about someone we loved who passed. “Just yesterday” is the title of my poem, because LIFE goes by so very fast, and tomorrows too soon become just yesterdays.

  47. Mary C Borchert - November 15, 2021 12:30 am

    So well said, Sean! It can be the sight of a gorgeous tree in the fall or a beautiful flower in the spring that will bring tears to your eyes but after a period od time, it brings a memory and a smile! Thank you, hugs and hang in there!

  48. Willie Agans - November 15, 2021 2:06 am

    Right now I have a love hate relationship with you. On October 15, 2021 my wife passed away with pancreatic cancer. My wife was in the hospital – Hospice House for 94 days.
    I shared the ups and downs that you had with your mother-in-law call my wife was fighting cancer at the same time.
    Thanks for sharing with us during that time.

  49. Deb - November 15, 2021 2:56 am

    Mom died eleven weeks ago today. Yes, we’re bracing ourselves for pond water sucking holidays. Your words today made me cry, smile and feel a bit of peace. I miss her so very much.

  50. Karen Snyder - November 15, 2021 3:23 am

    ❤️ Thank you. I, too, will share this column with some family and friends whose losses are more recent than mine. It is good to be reminded that our loved ones are ever close and signs of them are everywhere. Hugs to you and Jamie as you navigate these next weeks.

  51. Nancy - November 15, 2021 3:57 am

    Can’t begin to tell you how very much this article meant to me, even though I cried all the way through it. I lost my 92 year old mom in April…Alzheimer’s…I miss her more and more each day and dread this first season of holidays without her. Thanks for the reminder that she always was, is, and will be with me!

  52. Cheryl A Peterson - November 15, 2021 5:20 am

    More comforting than you can possibly imagine. Thank you, God bless you.

  53. Adrienne Possenti - November 15, 2021 5:52 am

    My mom had been ill my whole life and was so weary from it all that her passing was actually a blessing. So at age 17 I put my big girl panties on & tried to become an adult. Dad was still young & healthy so he went on about the business of starting over. I’m 72 now. All that happened long ago. My older sister & only sibling died recently after getting a diagnosis of stage 4 pancreatic cancer. She too was weary of the suffering and was blessed to have been taken quickly. To me heaven is where believers of Jesus go when they die once they have accepted Jesus as Lord & Savior & ask for forgivness that only Jesus can give. A cleansing of the soul, of sorts. I believe that we mere humans can’t begin to fathom the gloriousness of what awaits us in our eternity. The one thing about heaven that I do know is God’s love for his creation is far beyond human comprehension. I know this because when I cried out to God for help when I was at a complete loss, it was the incomprehensible love that I felt wrap around my heart and provide me with the strength I needed to carry on. Heaven is where we want to be, for sure.

  54. Erin Cleary (ClearyWriter) - November 15, 2021 3:15 pm

    Thank you, Sean. It is remarkable that this post came just three days after my dad’s passing. Reading it gave my spine a tingle as a message from him. Even your image of an old-timey typewriter is just like the one he typed on when I was a kid…I have strong memories of that! Thank you for helping me keep my dad close during this painful time.

  55. jstephenw - November 15, 2021 5:12 pm

    Once again, thank you Sean. Hey to Jamie from her Greenwood SC fan club. Beautiful.

  56. Julie Primmer - November 16, 2021 2:32 pm

    Hi Sean! I’ve been away for awhile, in case you were wondering, when you missed my comments? Your writing on this day, for me, has to be your VERY BEST so far!! It’s so timely, coming right before the months of year when “many folks cry throughout the “most wonderful time of the year.” SO MUCH PRESSURE everywhere to BE HAPPY!! If your plan was to bring my loved one back to being all around me, all of the time…well, mission accomplished❣️ Wishing you a Happy Thanksgiving (I’m very grateful for YOU), and a Blessed Christmas (Your Angel Wings are Waiting for You One Fine Day😇). 💕

  57. Kelly R Roberts - November 16, 2021 4:29 pm

    This one hit hard…lost two siblings, father in law, best friend and mother in the span of 30 months. I am lost and drifting…this keeps me grounded. Sometimes when I think I am at my wit’s end, I can hear my sister laugh at me or my mother make that sound that mothers make when they know you can do better…and it recenters me. Thanks for this one!

  58. Barbara Gruener - November 17, 2021 6:33 pm

    Thank you for these powerful words; I’m processing through the loss of my little brother and my husband’s little brother, just five weeks apart, both gone too soon. Your words are comforting and calming not only for as we head into the holidays, but for looking for the gifts as we work with intention on getting through the every day grind. Be blessed as you bless, knowing that you are helping those of us who feel lost without our loved ones by our sides.

  59. Marian - November 17, 2021 11:42 pm

    Thank you, dear Sean. I was feeling very down and yes I felt my beloved’s hug; he’s in Heaven 4 1/2 yrs now, but it’s ever like yesterday. 37 years married, I’m 74; funny, we grew “older” together but missed the “growing old together” part. I’m grateful to God for the years we had, for His sharing him with me, and grateful to God for creating you; your ongoing warmth and compassion is so strengthening & you & loved ones are ever in my prayers. I hope I get Youth Dew for Christmas & will think of your amazing mother-in-law, God rest her soul. Your blog is healing & I feel my beloved husband’s hug, Amen¡ Godspeed!🙏🏻

  60. Katherine D Kempf Jones - November 18, 2021 10:40 pm

    WOW! Sean – you did it again! Reading this column was almost as good as our annual ritual of watching, “It’s a wonderful Life”.
    And just as true and encouraging! Learning those depression stats helps us with planning for our family Holidays.
    THANK YOU for this column & for sharing your gift with all of us! – – DiAn

  61. Jo Dickinson - November 19, 2021 2:13 am

    Can this be purchased in or for a frame?

  62. Dee Gillikin - November 27, 2021 1:31 pm

    Thank you Sean and my thanks to my BFF Christina for sharing. This week was my first Thanksgiving in 30 years without my beloved, Ken. My friend told me to have a tissue ready and I almost used the whole box– but these tears needed to be shed, as you said. I have put myself in so many of the comments listed above and I know I am not as weird as I thought I might be by talking and laughing in privacy at “signs”. Our Blessed Lord gets me through each and every day. This first Christmas is going to be hard for me but I know why we celebrate and l’ll be ready to wish a Happy Birthday to Jesus Christ our Lord & Savior.
    I had not intended to add a comment but on second thought figured I should say a big THANK YOU.


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