'Nothing fills the void': Family reflects on first Christmas without husband, dad

Kaitlyn and her brother play chess by the Christmas tree.

The holidays are a time to bring families together.

Unfortunately for some it is impossible to make the family whole.

Many have lost loved ones this year and are now celebrating the holidays without them for the first time.

"Losing Chad was the biggest deal in our life," said Diana Register.

Her husband, Caldwell Police Officer Chad Register died from pancreatic cancer in June.

"I don't want to keep seeing it and I don't want to keep reliving it but I don't know how else you're supposed to heal," Diana said.

Now Diana and her daughter Kaitlyn are preparing for their first Christmas without him and for a lot of changes.

"Like all the traditions that we've had and just like putting up the tree and the lights and the angel," said Kaitlyn.

"I'm sort of dreading pulling out the wrapping paper and tags because that was always his thing," added Diana.

Chad loved buying gifts for his family. He always knew what to get and every Christmas produces big smiles in the living room.

"I walked out Christmas morning," Kaitlyn said. "And I saw this gianormous box!"

It's those good memories that make this holiday tough.

"I had it more together over the summer than I do right now," said Diana.

Because every step of preparing for Christmas is a reminder.

Diana said, "All of our ornaments have some kind of meaning behind them and so they're heartbreaking."

One in particular: A tiny police officer with Chad's badge number on it.

"It was hard, it was awful to see that," Diana said. "I remember buying that ornament. I remembering giving it to him. I remember the first time it was on the tree. I remember it's been on the tree ever since."

The ornaments, the lights, the stockings, and the angel all serve as a reminder of the angel they gained and the father and husband they lost.

"Nothing takes the place of that. Nothing fills the void of not having him here," Diana said. "Whether it's his physical presence or his jokes or his smile or his grin or the dumb things he said. Anything like that. Nothing takes the place of that."

But some things can distract them from that void; like a secret santa leaving presents at the door and disappearing.

After hearing the doorbell ring Kaitlyn runs to the front door yelling, "Where are you?" to an empty block.

As she walks back into the house she grabs the gift left on the doorstep.

A small gesture to remind the Register family while Chad may be gone, they are not alone.

"It's hard when you lose somebody to reach out and ask people to help you it really is," said Diana.

But with that help and support and compassion it's possible to help people get through the worst time in their life.

"I think we just want to give hope that you can survive," Diana said. "You know that you can survive a huge loss and you can get passed it and you can move forward with your life, because that's what Chad would've wanted us to do."

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