Kentucky

Family Marks First Christmas Without Miner

Celebrating the holidays after losing a loved one: for some of us, it may be tough to imagine but this year, that’s the reality for one Kentucky mining family.

This will be the first Christmas for the Elder family since Jeremy Elder’s death earlier this year.

Although he’s gone, he’s not forgotten by his family, and by the community they call home.

It’s been three months since the Elders lost a husband and father, and during a season of family, that sense of loss is even seen throughout the house.

“I haven’t really felt in the Christmas mood or anything like that, explained Jeremy’s wife Kristi Elder. “The last 20 Christmases it was me and him, so it’s a really big adjustment.”

For the Elder family, this is been a time of adjusting to a new normal.

Jeremy Elder lost his life at Dotiki Mines suddenly in September, and it’s changed things in the elder home even down to the smallest detail.

“A lot of the things I’ve always put out are personal. Things with our pictures or our names. It’s just too painful to look at them this year and have the reminders. I just did everything completely different to make it easier to get through the holiday season this year,” Kristi explained.

But they still kept small touches of Jeremy: His fingerprint rests on a necklace Kristi wears over her heart. The rack of antlers that covered his casket still keeps a prominent place in the living room. And memories still echo, though through tears this year.

“He fussed like it was something really difficult to put lights on the Christmas tree. But it’s a special memory. But it’s one that I really miss,” Kristi said.

But the Elders have been finding closure–

“I’ve already had a meeting with the state, and we went over the report in detail. And it was a completely no fault accident,” Kristi added.

–and finding ways to make sure Jeremy lives on.

The Jingle Jog 5k that Jeremy ran every year to support his son’s struggles with arthritis–

“How I deal with it is just act like you don’t have it, basically. There may be pains that I have to deal with, but just go on. Act like it’s a normal thing, that’s what I do,” explained Rylan Elder, who inspired the family to create the 5k.

–will still see his presence Saturday.

“I actually initially ordered the same amount of t-shirts that we had the year prior. This year we’ve had to double that order,” explained Jeremy’s mother Dr. Loretta Elder, who serves as founder and chair of the Jingle Jog. “The community at large and certainly our family, it still doesn’t seem real. It was three months yesterday…It was a great loss for our community.”

As that community comes together once again to honor one of their own.

‘We feel like we’re carrying his spirit with us. He’ll be running right with us,” Loretta said.

The Jingle Jog 5k will start at 9 am with a small ceremony in Jeremy’s memory.

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