Burns: 'You can't hide your emotions'

The holidays are a time of year when families gather to enjoy time together, filled with laughter, joy and happiness.

But for some, it's a time of year when the absence of family members can bring sadness and heartache, especially for children who have lost a parent.

Artie Burns understands that. Burns lost his mother, Dana Smith, in October, 2015 when she suffered a heart attack at just 44 years old. This is just the second Christmas that he and his younger siblings, Thomas and Jordan, will be without her.

He understands, though, they are not alone. There are others going through the same thing they are. And there are plenty who want to support him, and those dealing with loss.

And Burns himself, he is doing his part to support kids who are dealing with the struggles of loss right now through Dana's Angels, a way for him to honor his mom and help at the same time. Burns hosted a dinner for kids from The Caring Place, an agency that aids those who are dealing with the loss of a loved one.

"I decided to do something like this because just like me they are missing their loved one," said Burns. "Her name is on the front of it. It's all about my mom and the emotions. This is about the kids too. It's their chance to have a special night. Just being able to share this moment with them, enjoy the holidays with them, it's something I wanted to do.

"The Caring Place welcomes everybody with open arms and love. I was surprised about how they go about helping people deal with their emotions. My mom, it's not always easy getting over loved ones. Over time you cope with it and remember all of the good memories you had and keep life moving."

Burns knew there would be emotions at the dinner, but his goal was to make it a fun night, a night to forget about troubles and be a kid, which also meant getting gifts that Burns provided.

"We are having some fun tonight," said Burns. "We have gifts. I don't know what they were wishing for, but we've got things they will like. It's about having a good time and enjoying the holidays."

Burns' siblings still live in Miami, but he will see them this week when the Steelers play the Bengals in Cincinnati. He talks to them on a regular basis, and knows he still has to help them cope with the loss.

"It's about being real honest," said Burns. "I just lay out the facts. You can't hide your emotions. People try to cover it up, but it's there. I try to help them cope with their emotions. It's an important part of the year, it's when everybody gets together as a family and enjoys the time. My mom not being there it's important to make sure all of the emotions are good.

"You just have to be straight up about it. Most people don't talk about their emotions. The Caring Place makes you feel comfortable and want to open up. That is the first part of getting back and getting emotional stability, being able to open up to somebody."

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