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Honored Contributor
Posts: 8,361
Registered: ‎03-10-2010

Holidays after someone is gone

We are still suffering the tragic and rapid loss of a dear family member.

I remember a time when I had experienced a similar situation, and I avoided and denied and got through it.

With time, I know the rawness is replaced and softened by memories, but do any of you have ANY ways of dealing with a shocking loss followed almost immediately by winter holidays that are enmeshed in the ways that things were celebrated before?

Respected Contributor
Posts: 3,958
Registered: ‎09-28-2010

Re: Holidays after someone is gone

[ Edited ]

I'm sorry for your loss.  It is so difficult and everyone really has to find their own way I think.

 

Mine wasn't a sudden loss, but my husband died 15 years ago in mid Sept.

 

I almost chose to not decorate for Christmas, but then decided I should as we both loved Christmas and Christmas decorating so much.  

 

As I put up each piece, I couldn't help but reflect on all the memories - some made me laugh, most brought on tears and more tears.  It was difficult.  I kept busy Christmas day cooking and sharing the day with my children and granddaughter.  After dinner, after everyone went home, I lit the fire, put on some soft Christmas jazz and curled up under my Christmas tree with a throw and big pillow.  I felt like he was there with me, I really did.  I was glad I did it.

 

Valued Contributor
Posts: 822
Registered: ‎03-09-2010

Re: Holidays after someone is gone

 

violann:


Sadly, there's really no advice to give...you just have to face the pain and do your best to enjoy whatever memories your loved one left behind and to remind yourself that they would want you to continue to enjoy your own life.

 

My husband and I lost our son many years ago.  It's very hard in the beginning, especialy if the death was unexpected or sudden, as ours was, but over time you become adjusted and the memories become more joyful than painful.  That's not to say that bithdays and holidays aren't hard, they are, it's just that they're not as hard now as they were then, at least, that's how it is fo us.  I experience my most difficult time while putting up my tree and hanging the ornaments our son made for us with his little hands in his early grades.  I cry every year when I touch and hang those ornaments but once the tree is up it's no longer painful and I can look at his ornaments without feeling sad.   As he was part of our lives, so shall his memories be part of our Christmas.

 

I send you gentle thoughts and hugs as you face your holidays without your dear family member...

 

Maria

 

Honored Contributor
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Re: Holidays after someone is gone

My first Christmas after I lost my mom was so hard.  However I wanted to try and make it nice for my father, and even though he had alzheimers, I think he appreciated my efforts. I

lost him 2 years later  so I was glad that I made the effort. Just do your best .

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Re: Holidays after someone is gone

I'm not sure there's any one answer because grief and grieving are so personal.

 

I do know that it's been 30 years now that my mother died the day before Thanksgiving, and to this day, I have no idea of the actual date.  I just know that every year, it's the day before Thanksgiving that belongs to her in my memory.  I use that day for whatever grieving still present after all these years and then I can move on to the holiday season.

Respected Contributor
Posts: 3,773
Registered: ‎08-29-2010

Re: Holidays after someone is gone

[ Edited ]

@violann  I am sincerely sorry for your loss and pain.  There is never a good time, of course, but the holidays do tend to magnify the emptiness. I know because many years ago my beloved father died in my childhood home on Dec. 22 and was buried on Dec. 26,  and it still affects Christmas celebrations to this day.  

 

When he died the tree was decorated and there were wrapped gifts under it.  On Christmas morning we all just stood there, staring at it.  No one moved toward it or spoke for several minutes.  Then someone said, "He loved Christmas too much for us to ignore it.  He wouldn't want it."   So we solemnly passed out the gifts and quietly opened them.  The usual enthusiasm, laughter and joy was missing, but, Violann, I've learned the important thing was we were keeping on.  We kept to normalcy as much as we could, even sighing and announcing at the end of the gift opening, "365 days 'til Christmas," something my Dad was famous among us for announcing every year.  All these years later, someone in the family will still say it for him.   In fact, it's kind of a friendly competition now between my DH and our brother-in-law as to who says it first.

 

I said all this, Violann, to try to say the best you can do is to keep putting one foot in front of the other.  Find a way to honor the memory of your loved one during the holidays, even if it's just to keep on keeping on, the best you can, and forgive yourself when you cannot.  

 

Edited to correct grammar.

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Honored Contributor
Posts: 20,851
Registered: ‎03-10-2010

Re: Holidays after someone is gone

[ Edited ]

I am so sorry for those of you who have lost loved ones--especially now.  We have lost virtually all of our family--so we do decorate, we do have friends over for desserts and meals, and we do celebrate but in a different and lower key way.

 

We like to go look at lights, go to concerts and plays and church services, and all in all, just celebrate quietly but joyously as we remember the times past and the ways our loved ones made us who we are.

 

It isn't perfect, and you probably won't ever get over being hit with the pain during the holidays at times.  But that's about the best advice I can offer.

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Posts: 83
Registered: ‎03-10-2010

Re: Holidays after someone is gone

Thanks so much for posting this. I'll be checking back to see what people share.

 

This will be my first Christmas without my Dad - the parent I was closest to.  I still live with my Mom and take care of her.  Only child, no close cousins or nephews/neices.  My Dad loved Christmas SO much that I put two quotes from A Christmas Carol on the back of his memorial card.  I'm sure it'll be diffiicult, but I plan on doing most of the whole nine yards for me and my mom - putting up my and her tree, pulling out the good china, listening to Christmas music.  It's what I think he'd want me to do and just as he was proud of me when he was here, I want him to continue to be proud of me for trying to give my Mom the best Christmas possible.

Respected Contributor
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Registered: ‎06-23-2014

Re: Holidays after someone is gone

I'm so sorry for your loss. 

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Posts: 822
Registered: ‎03-09-2010

Re: Holidays after someone is gone


@millieshops wrote:

I'm not sure there's any one answer because grief and grieving are so personal.

 

I do know that it's been 30 years now that my mother died the day before Thanksgiving, and to this day, I have no idea of the actual date.  I just know that every year, it's the day before Thanksgiving that belongs to her in my memory.  I use that day for whatever grieving still present after all these years and then I can move on to the holiday season.


 

milieshops:

 

We have similar experiences...I buried my mom the day before Thanksgiving in 2003 and although I can remember the date, I chose to honor her on Thankisgiving Day by serving some of her favorite side dishes.   Just the smell in my kitchen brings back her memory...

 

Maria