Valley Family Donates Gifts in Memory of Loved One

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WESLACO – One Rio Grande Valley family is going to spend the holidays together and do something special in remembrance of a loved one who recently passed away.

Romeo Cervantes-Figueroa died back in March after driving his truck into a canal. This weekend will be the first Christmas his family will be together without him.

The family is dealing with their grief with gifts.

“It’s been tough, but this helps a little bit. It makes us a little bit stronger,” Romeo’s mother, Iris Cervantes-Figueroa, said.

Giving to the needy during the holiday season is a family tradition. This year they’re giving toys in memory of Romeo.

His mother said spreading joy helps ease the family’s pain.

“Don’t get wrong, it has been very, very tough since Thanksgiving. Now Christmas, I really don’t want the day to get here, but eventually it’s going to get here. But we’ll keep strong together, both of us and my children,” she said.

The family delivered gifts to all the children in Knapp Medical Center’s pediatric wing. They invited Weslaco police officers to help.

From babies to one-year-old to teenagers, every child received a gift.

“That’s pretty nice for her to be doing that for everybody. Her going through that loss, then coming by and making it better for us,” Veronica Olivarez said.

Every person grieves in their own way. McAllen psychologist Joseph McCoy said there isn't a “correct” way to deal with the pain of loss during the holidays.

He said it’s important that people allow themselves to grief in whatever way feels right to them.

“It’s okay that you’re not doing all the traditions everyone else is doing. But also give yourself permission to do some of that stuff and enjoy it. Because the people you’re probably missing and grieving, if they were here, they would tell you go do that,” McCoy explained.

He said if it’s too difficult to do the normal holiday traditions, it is okay to pretend each holiday is a normal day. He said getting through it gets easier with time.

“The first two seasons are usually the most difficult and it usually does get less painful,” McCoy said.

The family is just trying to get through Christmas.

“There will be days that you cannot cope with it. There will be days that you just want to give up and just throw everything and just give. And the only thing I just suggest is, keep up with the family that’s still here with us. Because we all know Romeo is in a better place,” he said.

The Cervantes-Figueroa family will focus on each other and the happy memories they have of Romeo. 


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