IDAHO FALLS, Idaho (KIFI/KIDK) - During the holiday season, there may be a big void in the time we spend with our loved ones.
For Idaho Falls resident Jacob Garner, Christmas Day is a tragic reminder of what he has lost. It is the nine year anniversary of his brother, Buck Anthony Garner's tragic murder.
The 20-year old was stabbed in a fight early Christmas morning in 2011.
Doctors pronounced him dead at the Idaho Regional Medical Center.
Jacob says this time of year brings about a level of stress for him and his family.
"I guess probably some anxiety, and just my family struggles really hard around that time with loss," Garner said. "I also have some fear that my family is gonna be struggling or what they're going to be going through."
Many other families are mourning the loss of those in 2020 and continue to mourn those from their past.
Psychology Center of Idaho Falls Psychotherapist Renae Peterson says it's important to recognize that loss and not suppress those emotions during the holiday season.
"During this holiday season, where things are really bright and cheery, sometimes the contrast of what you're feeling inside with the joy that everyone is trying to express outside in the holiday season, can be really heart wrenching and difficult." Peterson said. "So, accepting that you're in that place and you need help is the first thing."
For Jacob, accepting his brother's murder has been difficult to process, but he found a way to reveal his true feelings.
"Recently, I wrote a letter to my brother about him passing away, and wrote about some resentments I had towards him and to the man that stabbed him," Garner said. "I read them aloud to some people, and that seemed to kind of help me just get some of those emotions off my chest."
Still, others may struggle with way to express how their loss is impacting them. Peterson says that we as a community need to offer support for those close to us that are grieving.
We really have to make a concerted effort as a community to reach out to each other and to ask “how are you doing?” Peterson said. "No, really "how are you doing"? A lot of times just being that person for someone else can make all the difference."
Peterson believes recognizing the grieving process is a first step towards better days.
"Sometimes the acceptance has to start with just accepting that you're angry, accepting that you're sad, accepting that you've really missed that loved one," Peterson said. "These changes that you're going through are really, really hard, and just accepting that this is where you are, because grief can manifest in a lot of different ways, and it's something that has to be honored and processed."
For Garner, he says the grieving process may be permanent, but believes it's important to be optimistic about life going forward.
"I think that's the hardest part as we all try and put the blame on ourselves somehow," Garner said. "I think it's just I don't want to feel like I had no control in the situation, which is the reality of it. I couldn't change anything that happened. I think it's just kind of getting past that and not really blaming yourself and being able to kind of move forward in a positive way."
In his brother's memory, Garner started "Fill The Truck For Buck," which is an annual campaign to help families with their Christmas shopping. Garner says they collected clothes and toys for the local youth in the community.