Grieving Through the Holidays as a Family

Grief is a natural response to loss. It can be felt in many ways. Grief’s impact can be emotional, social, spiritual, physical and financial. It is as individual as the person you loved and lost. Grieving while living away from family and friends can be especially difficult. This is a place where you can share your thoughts, and get ideas on how to cope. It is here for you to get support and validation.

Grieving Through the Holidays as a Family

Postby Nica » Tue Nov 13, 2012 9:26 am

Holiday grief triggers are all around us this time of year - holiday music on the radio, store displays and holiday parties. It can be overwhelming when you and your family are grieving a loved one during this time of year.
Rituals during the holidays can help a family honor their loved one who has died. Some families light a candle and keep it on the table while they have the holiday meal. Others cook a loved ones favorite food or put a picture on the table. All of these options are ways to acknowledge the elephant in the room at holiday time: that a special person has died and life isn’t the same anymore. Visiting the cemetery around the holidays is another way to connect with family in your grief. Remember though, that while it is comforting for many people, others are intensely triggered by going to the cemetery and can’t make the trip.
Sometimes being home for the holidays after a loved one dies is too intense. Some families have found it helpful to get away. This can lessen the difficulty of the first holiday. Taking a little vacation from grief and the holiday traditions can be the break that is needed. Often, families change some of their holiday traditions or begin new ones. This can also help ease the pain.
Are the holidays a difficult time for you in your grief? What have you and/or your family done to manage this time of year? How do you honor your loved one during the holidays?
Nica
 
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Re: Grieving Through the Holidays as a Family

Postby doodle1 » Tue Nov 13, 2012 5:41 pm

This will be my first holiday without my husband. His birthday and Thanksgiving are going to be the same day this year. So that will make it a double sad occasion for us. I would LOVE to get away for the Holidays this year and spend them alone somewhere with my grief. But I have family that is depending on me to help keep the traditions going. I am truly dreading all the planning and hospitality that goes along with the holidays. My husband has only been gone 3 months, so my feeling are very raw right now. I like the idea of lighting a candle at the table for him, so I think I will incorporate that for our Thanksgiving dinner. I wish everyone else the best of times during their holiday celebrations.
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Re: Grieving Through the Holidays as a Family

Postby VickieK » Thu Nov 29, 2012 7:03 pm

It was my first Thanksgiving without my Loved One.. It was hard.. I didn't think I was going to make it, but, I did. His Son's Family invited me over for dinner & he was included in the conversations fondly. I did ok- til I went home..alone.. Then the tears came & I went to bed crying- like every night.
I am so dreading Christmas. He LOVED Christmas- he went "all out" with the decorating & presents & even preparing the Christmas Eve dinner before he got sick. The last couple years, we went to his Son's home on Christmas Eve because he couldn't do the things he used to do-but- he STILL loved it & went "all out". Now- his Daugther-in-Law has asked me if I want to continue with Christmas Eve or do something else and I honestly don't know how to answer her. My Loved One & I never married.. I keep thinking- will his Son's Family move on without me? Do I want
to change our Christmas Eve tradition?? They have children who call me Gramma- I have been around since befor they were born and I am the only Gramma they have close by.. NOW-I am worried that I will lose them, too..
I'm just praying to make it through this Holiday Season.
My thoughts are with Doodle1 as she tries to get through with the loss of her husband. I wish I had some comforting words of advise for her..
VickieK
 
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Re: Grieving Through the Holidays as a Family

Postby doodle1 » Sun Dec 02, 2012 2:22 pm

I too made it through my first of the holidays, without the love of my life for the past 25 years. He was so helpful to me during all of the cleaning, decorating and food preparation. I spent part of the Thanksgiving morning at the cemetery, talking to him. I had a great urge to get there, so I just turned off the stove and went there. Thankfully it is close by. It was so very hard, and emotional. I cried so hard, I didn't even know I had it in me. Then I drove home and on the way home, I felt a little better. I then prepared the meal and my day went pretty good until the last of the guests left. Then I lost it again and had a hard time getting it together. So I got ready and went to bed. It has been 4 months since he passed and it is still very raw to me. I am dreading the days until Christmas Eve, Christmas Day and New Years Eve. Although my husband was ill last year during this time (he was diagnosed at the end of June 2011), I still had him here with me physically, and he was well enough to enjoy the days with us. I did buy a special candle (green his favorite color) this year, and had it on the table during our meal. I will save it and burn it again at Christmas and New Years, to honor my husbands memory. VickieK, I wish you good luck in getting through this awful ordeal and good health for the Holidays!!
doodle1
 
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Re: Grieving Through the Holidays as a Family

Postby Nica » Mon Dec 03, 2012 8:43 am

Feelings can be very intense on the first holidays after a special loved one dies. Many of our clients find quiet times and/or evenings especially difficult. While there is no “magic fix” to make these feelings go away, some people find it helpful to connect with someone when the intense grief feelings surface. Other clients have a list of coping strategies and distractions already written up and put somewhere they can easily find (ex. on the fridge) so they can pick a distraction to shift a bit from the emotional intensity. Vickie, there is no right answer about what you should do for Christmas, but making a plan and a back-up plan has worked well for many of our clients. If you find joy with his grandkids, go and be with them, but know that if it’s too intense you will have a back up plan in place. Doodle, honoring your feelings on Thanksgiving seemed to work well, continue to implement honoring your grief, but keeping busy and connecting to others you care about. If it feels too intense, seeking a group or individual support is also helpful for many people who are grieving.
Nica
 
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Re: Grieving Through the Holidays as a Family

Postby carmella1 » Wed Dec 05, 2012 10:56 am

I also will have my first Christmas without my husband of 33 years. He has been gone 9 months now. The pain is so intense at times I feel like I am having a nervous breakdown. People keep saying, "its time to move on," I want to say, "move on to what?" They just don't know. I know they mean well but when two people are together that long two become one. When one of them is ripped away the other person is lost, scare and walks around like they were in a fog.

At Thanksgiving we set an extra place setting. It was so painful to look over at the empty seat. Now comes Christmas, I am so sad to say this but I wished it were over. The music in the stores, on the radio, the happiness of it all is taking its toll on me.

When my husband died, I died. But I wake up everyday and try again. I thank God for my family and friends. To doodle1 and Vickie, may God bless you and your families. I hope the spirit of your loved ones come thru.

Take care of yourselves.
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Re: Grieving Through the Holidays as a Family

Postby VickieK » Fri Dec 14, 2012 3:03 pm

As the Christmas Holiday approaches closer- I am constantly getting panic attacks-wondering if I'm going to be able to make it through.. He has been gone 9 months-it still feels like yesterday.. I still keep thinking he's going to come back.. 20 years of
having him by my side- I don't know how to carry on with out him.. It hurts.. each day it still hurts.. I am doing better-for the most part- until I am all alone- then it all comes rushing back & I break down & cry... In the shower, in my recliner, in my car, in my bed.. I am alone.. He isn't coming back no matter how hard I try to bring him back- he is gone..
On a good note, our Granddaughter text me and told me she wants to continue our Christmas Eve like we always did. I saw on her FB page that she's going to miss her PaPa this Christmas Eve. My heart goes out to her- she's 15 & was her "PaPa"s Princess".. I pray for her to get through this without him, too.
To doodle1: Best Wishes for you through the Holiday Season. I hope you find peace in those still around you. I think I know how hard it is for you now.. And, I know that as time goes on- it will be better for us.. GOD Bless..
VickieK
 
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Re: Grieving Through the Holidays as a Family

Postby doodle1 » Sun Dec 16, 2012 8:55 pm

Please, please help me!!!! I miss my husband so so much. I have no idea how to get though these holidays...
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Re: Grieving Through the Holidays as a Family

Postby dscowan » Thu Dec 20, 2012 10:23 am

doodle1: The holidays can be so difficult and the absence of loved ones is palpable. It's hard to feel "merry," but perhaps you can find some peace. The posts and blogs offer several specific things you can to do to help you manage the season. You may want to keep a list of coping strategies handy and refer to it when times become difficult.
Vicki: Keeping tradition on Christmas Eve is a way of continuing your relationship with your husband. Your granddaughter has a good idea there.
If your feelings become too intense, please consider joining a support group or seeking individual support.
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Re: Grieving Through the Holidays as a Family

Postby doodle1 » Sat Dec 22, 2012 8:08 pm

It is getting much more difficult as the holidays get closer. I know that I am expecting much more difficulty than will happen. But it is so hard to even imagine spending this time without my husband. Thank you VickieK and Carmella1 for your responses. And to dscowan and Nica for your advice and suggestions. I know that we will survive the holidays, but it will be very difficult at times. I really would like to just go to sleep and wake up when they are over, but I know that is an unreasonable expectation. I am coping the best I can, considering what I have been through. I received a couple Christmas cards addressed to my husband and myself from out of town friends. I actually felt more sorry for them, because I know how bad they will feel when they get my notes. But these are people who we only exchange cards with once a year, and we catch up with the. Although, I did not receive any cards for some of "our" friends that I though would have sent them.

I plan on going to the cemetery on Christmas morning and spending some time with my husband. I will be spending a couple hours with my family, but I really prefer to spend it alone. So I will make an appearance and then come home to spend the time thinking about my husband.

There have been so many "firsts" without him, that it is really killing me. I usually cry myself to sleep every night.

I wish for all of you to have a Merry Christmas and a Happy, Healthy, New Year!! And thank you again for all of your help!!
doodle1
 
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