Jump to content

Dealing With The Holidays


jennifer

Recommended Posts

I agree, even though I am not into the holidays this year at all. I am having to force myself to stay busy and make plans to do things. I am making myself let friends keep me involved so I'll get out and do some holiday things. My heart is not totally in it, of course, but it's better than sitting home crying my eyes out. I know if my husband were able to, he would tell me to get out and do things and enjoy the season. That is what is keeping me going. He didn't want me to stay sad... He wanted me to be happy that he would be in heaven and out of pain. So, I'm trying to remind myself of that constantly.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 2 weeks later...

Jennifer,

Your posting is certainly appropriate: More than any other time of year, the holidays of this season are rife with unacknowledged sadness and pain. They are supposed to be "Happy Holidays!" Instead, for those of us who have lost someone (my mother died in September), the holidays emphasize the missing chair at the table. The very joyfulness of the season flies in the face of our missing that loved one, a loving, gental hug, and a whispered greeting.

During this time, I facilitate many groups in which we discuss how to cope with these days. Your advice is paramount: Take care of yourself. This involves making it okay that these days will be different than in previous years. If your loss occurred just recently, these days will pass in a fog of disbelief and aimlessness. It's next year's holidays that will hone your sadness and pain.

Taking care of yourself means just that: Be kind to yourself when your Scrooge appears. Make it okay that these days for you are dreadful. Make it okay that joy coexists with sadness. Be gentle with those who try to "fix" it for you. They don't know what you are going through; they only know that they want you "back." And that will probably never be.

SteveG

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 1 year later...

HI I AM HERE IN CANADA AND WE ARE ABOUT TO CELEBRATE THANKSGIVING BUT ALL I WANT TO DO IS TO FORGET IT AND ANY OTHER HOLIDAY AS WELL THIS YEAR HAS BEEN A REAL ROUGH ONE ON OUR FAMILY WE HAVE LOST OUR MOTHER APRIL 18, 2005 AND NOW HAVE LOST OUR DAD AUGUST 25, 2005. SO I AM JUST NOT SURE I WANT TO CELEBRATE ANYTHING IF THEY CAN NOT BE WITH ME.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

STARKISS,

I'm in Canada, too, so realize Thanksgiving is fast approaching. While this may not be of much help, I can tell you that ALL holidays for both me and my husband have been very depressing, both before my losses, as well as afterwards. This is because neither of us has had any family here ( we were the only ones from each family to move away 14 years ago, for his work ), so we've spent all major holidays with only ourselves. For many reasons, we couldn't fly back home to join them, either. Friends have almost always been too busy themselves to see us, and only 2 couples in all those years have ever even thought to include us , twice, in their holiday dinners....despite our honesty in telling them how holidays were hard on us. So we usually notice cars of families coming and going, get depressed and try to fill up some time doing simple, but pleasurable things for ourselves, but all the while knowing most other folks 'out there' are doing normal things that we can't partake in.

After the losses of both my Mother and brother 1.5 years ago , in Jan. and Feb. of '04, respectively, holidays have become even more of a strain and I dread most of them now more than ever. The first Christmas afterwards (so last year ), I decided to cook a fairly traditional dinner deliberately so I could make a number of my Mom's standard dishes, the ones I'd loved and cooked at times myself, but not always all at once. Since I now had her china set ( a battle to get, so it's EXTRA special to me! ), and would be using it, I also decided it wouldn't be right to NOT decorate the house, even though I didn't feel up to the task, because never had I eaten from those plates when HER house wasn't decorated for Christmas. I also set a place for her at our table, also using a few other special pieces that she'd most liked, and set a picture of her on her plate. I toasted both her and my brother, crying like a baby, but I did it. The fact that I could hardly eat a thing didn't really matter. I was honouring their lives by including their spirits as if they were there in person. When I'd remember some memory from Christmas dinners past, I'd just talk about it then and there. I didn't care if my husband didn't like it....I'd given him fair warning in advance! As for other holiday traditions, luckily, being on our own for so long, we'd developed our own style anyway, but we toned down on even these last year, trying to do things that might uplift us a bit, like only opening one gift per day each, so we'd have something to look forward to for a few days. We did get invited out for Christmas dinner ( one of the two times over the 14 yrs. ), and I actually decided to decline, despite this caring jesture, as the woman was obviously not comfortable with the idea that I might be bursting into uncontrollable tears at any unpredictable time. I felt I owed it to MYSELF to honour my grief and if others couldn't handle it, then I couldn't subject myself to any more, unnecessary stress. This year promises to be just as hard, I think, so I will play it by ear, but will do whatever I think is best for ME, whether that's ignoring the holidays, or something in between. It certainly won't be anything to celebrate this year, either, and though I worry it may NEVER be again, I'll just take it one year at a time and see how I feel.

As for Thanksgiving itself, luckily we never did do much for it, even WHEN at home ( it was hit and miss whether either of our moms wanted to put on a dinner ) but I know it'll be depressing, too, so we'll likely plan something else to do instead, and try to ignore it as best we can. I DO, however, plan on thinking of everything I possibly can that I'm truly grateful for, and saying it out loud....then see if I can cajole my husband into doing the same! For all I know, you live right around the corner from us and if you did, I would invite you over in an INSTANT on Oct. 10, to cry and share your sorrow through the meal, if that would help!

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 2 weeks later...

Just wanted to let others know that we made it through Cdn. Thanksgiving pretty well! My husband, bless his caring heart this year, suggested we go out to eat on Thanksgiving....not that he had any idea where we should go! lol However, I thought about where I'd seen traditional dinners being advertised in the past and figured a golf course dining room would be a possible bet because those usually stay open for all the avid golfers. We just got a really nice one in our town, and sure enough, they were open. We had a really wonderful meal there ( good chefs, and I'm very particular about my food, as Mom was a great cook, and so am I! ), for even a good value! It was SO nice to go out, not have to watch cars going to and fro from our neighbours' houses, eat a great, traditional meal ( very much like Mom would have made ), no clean-up, then have time to relax at home with our furgirl. I'd NEVER gone out to eat on any holidays, so now that I know how nice it can be, I think I'll start my OWN, new tradition, at least for this particular holiday! Oh, success on this difficult journey is sweet!!

Link to comment
Share on other sites

hi maylissa

i am happy for you to have found a way to treat yourself on this holiday, a way that feels good. sounds like a great idea for a new tradition to me.

we have recently lost my nephew, and sadly going out was something we had done on Thanksgiving the past few years -with him - so this won't work as an escape for us. but we will get thru it.

i hope you have this kind of successful experience for the remaining holidays.

smile.gif

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Aunt,

Thank you for your 'congrats'. Yes, if going out was the norm, that presents a different problem. Maybe that's the kind of time you have to forget it's a holiday and do something really different, depending on what's available. Sorry, but I'm not feeling very creative for suggestions right now! huh.gif

For Christmas-time, though, it's a different story, as so far I'd still rather make my Mom's traditional dishes at home ( no restaurant would have them anyway ) and probably hole up in at least some isolation from the happier crowds. Christmas is different....my Mom left right after New Years, so the entire holiday time is rolled into that period for me. I last spoke to her on Christmas Eve. So for then, I'll need to cloister, at least this year. For the future, who knows? A friend of mine who lost her dad this year is hoping they can just go away so she doesn't even see Christmas stuff around....although I don't know how many places won't have something to remind her. But as usual, I'll do it MY way, whatever that ends up being. Sometimes my stubbornness and unconventionality serves me rather well.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Aunt,

Thank you for your 'congrats'. Yes, if going out was the norm, that presents a different problem. Maybe that's the kind of time you have to forget it's a holiday and do something really different, depending on what's available. Sorry, but I'm not feeling very creative for suggestions right now! huh.gif

For Christmas-time, though, it's a different story, as so far I'd still rather make my Mom's traditional dishes at home ( no restaurant would have them anyway ) and probably hole up in at least some isolation from the happier crowds. Christmas is different....my Mom left right after New Years, so the entire holiday time is rolled into that period for me. I last spoke to her on Christmas Eve. So for then, I'll need to cloister, at least this year. For the future, who knows? A friend of mine who lost her dad this year is hoping they can just go away so she doesn't even see Christmas stuff around....although I don't know how many places won't have something to remind her. But as usual, I'll do it MY way, whatever that ends up being. Sometimes my stubbornness and unconventionality serves me rather well.

no problem maylissa, we'll wait to see how my sister is feeling and plan accordingly.

and i agree, doing whatever feels right to you, conventional or not, is the right choice.

i wish you the best holiday season possible.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

HI ALL,

I DID MANAGE TO MAKE IT THROUGH THE CANADIAN THANKSGIVING AS WELL. WE HAD SOME FAMILY FIGHTING OVER SMALL THINGS BUT I DID MANAGE TO HOLD IT TOGETHER THROUGHOUT THE HOLIDAY. I DID MISS BOTH MOM AND DAD DURING THE DAY BUT I SLIPPED AWAY TO REMEMBER THEM AND SOME GOOD OLD MEMORIES OF PAST THANKSGIVINGS THANKS TO EVERYONE WHO WROTE IN THIS FORUM. TAKE CARE smile.gif

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 2 weeks later...

Almost nine years ago my son was murdered two weeks after Christmas. Christmas was the last time we had seen him. His birthday was December 22. That first Christmas season after I just wanted to take a trip somewhere and forget the holidays but my husband said we couldn't do that, we had to be there for the others. So, we did all the normal things but it was so sad and hard to do. Then, last year on December 20th my husband died after a long battle with cancer. Again, we went ahead with it but we put pictures of him and our son in a prominent spot and lit a candle for them. I always put an ornament on the tree with my son's picture on it and I have another one with an eagle on it that I hang for him because he loved eagles and collected them and I always take a small decorated tree and place on his grave. I'm actually looking forward to the holidays this year because the house feels so empty and all the family will come for the holidays.

Mary

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Oh, Mary,

I'm truly so sorry for your huge losses and for the fact that they both fell so close to Christmas! I know of one other family where the same thing happened, and have heard of far too many others facing the same situation. But your new rituals are so lovely, and they reminded me, too, of something I've begun since my own losses ( early Jan., early and late Feb. ). Last year we attended a Memorial Candlelight Service hosted by a local funeral home, as I had to do something in lieu of the proper Memorial my Mother never got. It was actually very lovely ( though I cried throughout ), with a wonderful female soloist singing the odd carol, and strictly voluntary participation from the attendees. At the end, they offered a 'picking' of the 2 trees they had set up, which were all adorned with cut-glass angels. Since between me and my husband, we had had 5 losses that year, plus our furbaby a few years previous, they allowed, even encouraged us, to take as many as we felt we needed, so we took our 6 angels. I now place one right beside favourite ornaments that either represent or were given to me by my loved ones, and hang the others around the room incorporated into other decorations ( for my husband's losses ). It really does help to feel like you're still doing something for your loved ones, and for yourself.

I'm glad you're looking forward, in some way, to being able to share in making memories with the rest of your family this year. That's so special and I'm sure it will serve you well whenever you're feeling lonely at other times, or even during the holidays. We all need something to be able to look forward to. Thanks for sharing this. smile.gif

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Maylissa

Thank you for your response. I'm sorry for your losses. I'm glad you found a way to enjoy Thanksgiving. It must be tough not to have any family near to share the holidays with. I'd be lost without my daughter and son and grandkids. The holidays are about the only time I get to see some of them so I do look forward to that.

Mary

Link to comment
Share on other sites

HI THERE, NOW THAT THANKSGIVING IS OUT OF THE WAY WE HAVE CHRISTMAS TO THINK ABOUT WHICH DOES NOT MAKE THINGS ANY EASIER. ABOUT TEN YEARS AGO OUR FAMILY WENT THROUGH ALOT OF DEATHS AND SICKNESSES AROUND CHRISTMAS TIME THAN IT SEEMED TO CALM DOWN A LITTLE BIT UNTIL MY GRANDMOTHER WHO I WAS VERY CLOSE DIED ABOUT FOUR YEARS AGO. NOW THIS YEAR WE HAVE LOST BOTH PARENTS ONE IN APRIL 2005 AND THE OTHER IN AUGUST 2005 AND IT LEAVES A VOID IN OUR LIVES THAT IS HARD TO DEAL WITH. IT ALSO LEAVES SOME OF THE SOME CHILDREN WITHOUT GRANDPARENTS FOR CHRISTMAS THIS YEAR. HOW DO WE GO ON AND HOW DO WE MAKE IT SPECIAL FOR THE CHILDREN.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

HI....I AM NEW TO THIS SITE.....I AM A ONLY CHILD BUT OLD ENOUGH TO BE A GRANDMOTHER AND LOST MY FATHER MARCH 2004 AFTER 15 YEARS OF ALZHEIMERS AND MY MOTHER IN SEPT. 2005 OF BREAST CANCER JUST BEFORE HER BIRTHDAY. OVER THE LAST 5 YEARS OR SO MY LIFE HAS BEEN TAKING CARE OF THEM....DID I MENTION THAT I AM ALSO A NURSE .....A INTENSIVE CARE NURSE....SO I HAVE SEEN DEATH AND GRIEVING BEFORE....SO I SHOULD BE ABLE TO HANDLE THIS....BUT I HAVE NOT BEEN DOING A VERY GOOD JOB.

I DON'T KNOW HOW I WILL BE ABLE TO HANDLE THE HOLIDAYS....I HAVE A WONDERFUL HUSBAND OF 38 YRS AND WONDERFUL SON AND DAUGHTER-IN-LAW BUT AT THIS PARTICULAR MOMENT ALL I CAN THINK ABOUT IS MY MOM... I GO TO THE PHONE AT 7PM EVERYNIGHT TO CALL MY MOTHER AND TELL HER OF MY DAY......I FEEL BAD BECAUSE THE ONLY DREAMS THAT I HAVE OF HER ARE THE ONES OF HER LAYING IN THE HOSPICE AND DYING. I HAS BOUND AND DETERMINED NOT TO LET HER DIE ALONE, MY FATHER DID, AND I WAS FORTUNATE THAT MY HUSBAND WAS THERE WHEN SHE DID PASS...I HAD JUST LEFT.....I DON'T REALLY WANT TO DO ANYTHING OR SEE ANYONE AND I SURELY DON'T WANT TO CELEBRATE ANYTHING....I AM MAD AT MYSELF BECAUSE I THINK THAT I SHOULD BE ABLE TO DEAL WITH THIS BETTER.......

THANKS FOR LETTING ME RAMBLE.....

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Funnyface,

Well, I don't mean this in a mean way, but just because you've seen misery in your career doesn't translate to grief in your own, personal life. In other words, I'm concerned that you would be thinking you should be somehow 'better' enough by now to not be worried about the upcoming holidays. Heavens!....it's only been less than 2 months for you! That's only a baby step, IF that, when it comes to the mourning period that's pretty usual for most people. There is an article that I think I accessed from this site that talks about 'doing well' in one's grief meaning, NOT that we're carrying on as if nothing of import happened, but that we're in a corner in the fetal position, crying our eyes out....and THAT'S doing well with and for our grief! It's a total misconception that we should 'get on' with our lives so easily and without going through a full, thorough 'cleansing', if you will, of ALL our emotions, as many times as it takes ( and that can be hundreds ), and for as long as we NEED to, never mind what society likes to try and believe about grief.

I apologize if I came off rather strongly here, but if there's anything I've become adamant about, it's that people stop feeling guilty about their great love, which translates into great grief, when someone close to their heart passes. It's not healthy to feel guilty about loving someone that much. If you need to talk more about your feelings about the holidays, I'd be happy to be here for you.

If you don't want to 'do' the holidays, then beg out, this year, maybe even more years, depending on what you really feel you can and cannot handle about the holidays. I'm going into my second year w/o my Mom and one brother, and I just have to accept that I don't feel the same way about holidays as I once was blessed with feeling. They're just emptier now and that's all there is to it...until and unless I gradually grow out of those feelings. It hurts, and there are things I can do to alleviate some of it, but I can't expect ANYTHING in particular. I consider it a sign of progress that I would RATHER not feel this way forever...but must allow that time and work at grieving will give me that answer, whatever it may end up being.

You know, someone on another site just said to me that I should be "glad" that I at least have my own, tiny family for the holidays, as they are single. That just minimized my feelings of sadness and did nothing to help me....in fact, I was angry and put off by that comment. I SHOULDN'T be ANYTHING other than what and where I am right NOW. Period. And the same goes for you. Might I suggest that you respect yourself and your own feelings enough to look inside and do, or not do, just what you want. You could consider this a wise move towards getting through your grief in a shorter time than if you stifle and disregard your feelings, and thus unnecessarily prolong your mourning period. Your inner self truly knows best.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Maylissa....thank you for your encouragement.....I guess I am to hard on myself.......I went into working almost right away....and now the temp job is over and I am faced with finally doing the things I have been putting off like taking care of my mother's things, selling the house I grew up in etc. and it all seems so over whelming......I just keep putting it off and putting it off.....I don't think I have even spoke much about my Mom because it hurts to bad. i don't want to answer the phone, go anywhere, do anything.....and that is not like me at all......I know all the quotes...she is in a better place, she is now with your father etc. but she isn't here.......that is all I care about right now....my husband didn't have the close family like I did and he doesn't understand the pain that I am going through, so it is hard for him to help.....I think he feels that I should be pretty much back to normal by now....what ever normal is.........it has all ready helped me reading the posts of others and I realize that I am not the only one that has the feelings that I do........

I am not at all offended by what you said.....

Thanks.....Funnyface

Link to comment
Share on other sites

hi funnyface ~

i related a lot to your posts, although your loss and mine are not exactly the same (i just lost my 21 yr old nephew 3 mos ago). i think that time passes differently for some of us, and what seems like plenty of time to get over it to some people feels like a very short time has passed to others. my husband is already taking pleasure in looking at photos of our precious nephew. my daughter made a CD to be played at the service, and he listens to it all the time at work. i can't listen to those songs right now. looking at his pictures is still too painful. i know i will get there but i'm not there yet.

re: cliche expressions ~ they just don't hold the same meaning anymore. of course in my mind i believe he's in heaven, he was a Christian and had accepted the Lord. but he's not here with us. heaven is most certainly a better place, but it still seems too painful... not having him here with us... to find comfort in that knowledge. i believe this will also change in time.

re: feeling like hibernating ~ i thikn this is really really normal. you are feeling depressed, very common, and there is a certain "umph" you are lacking right now. it keeps you from feeling able to converse in a normal way, from feeling motivated or enthused about anything. it's easier to hide than to try to be "on".

give yourself some time. in these past 3 months i have gone thru a myriad of changes in the way i'm feeling, day-to-day. your feelings will change. they will pass, and then return. you'll have a better day here and there, and then maybe a string of good days, and a string of bad. that's how it's been for me and my family.

one more thing i wanted to say - tell your husband that you need time and comfort, until you don't need it anymore and to please just stick it out with you even if he doesn't always understand. you can't help it that you're not "over it" yet, he also can't help it that he is not sharing your feelings. a death in the family can cause troubles in a marraige and i suspect this very thing to be a common culprit.

my struggle is similar right now to yours; i have a wonderful husband and 2 precious kids. i want their holidays to be a happy time, and i want to appreciate and enjoy the blesings in my life, but sometimes i don't know how to get around the feelings of sadness and loss.

time.... it just all takes time....

hope this is helpful to you somehow

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 2 weeks later...

Dear Funnyface... I myself have a background in the health field and am so very familiar with grief, yet I have come to believe in the last few years that no matter how much we deal with it on a daily basis in our careers, nothing prepares us for the individual and personal losses that we encounter in our own families. I lost my beloved Father in July of 2001 due to a cerebral hemorrhage. My husband and soul-mate of almost 30 years passed away from lung cancer in August of 2003. He was diagnosed in April and left us just a few short months later. We have 3 children...27, 25, and 18. For some reason though, this year everything has come full-tilt and just recently hit me full force in the face so to speak. I have all these emotions that range from logical thoughts to irrational and beyond. Today, for the first time ever I felt that I had truly lost my mind. The two most influential and loving people I have ever known are gone, and I have all these emotions rolling around everywhere. I feel guilt...that I mourn more for my husband, and less for my Father...guilt that I am here, and they are not...and anger that God could take them both from me...and especially my husband who was only 48. But...there is no clear-cut path to grieving as I am finding out. As you may feel guilt that you weren't with your Mother...I feel it in a different way...I was with my Father in the operating room when surgery was done to try and save his life...but I could not do anything truly to prevent him losing it...I watched my husband gasp for his last breaths in the ER, but there wasn't anything I could do there either. Having worked in various areas of the hospital, it made me think....we certainly do bring ourselves into this world alone...with the help of God...and with His help...we are guided home again. We are NEVER alone...the room is never truly empty, He is there silently standing beside us giving us the strength to get through it. My days aren't as happy as they once were...but time and God will heal me. I am angry and hurt today, but when I go to bed tonite, He will hold me till tomorrow and get me through. Neither of them are gone, and neither are your parents...Look around this holiday season...look at the smiles of your children and grandchildren...there is a little bit of them everywhere. I see my Father in my sons...my daughter...my nieces and nephews...even myself. And my children have the gift of their Father's kind heart as we all help each other through this sadness. My year old grandson is a reincarnation of his grandfather...a constant reminder of love and goodness. My Father always told me life would go on, he said we will always miss one another...but as long as we love one another...we live and one day we would all be together again. Live for them...and pass them on in your family's heart...that way they can never die! God bless you...remember you have done the best you were able...they would want no more than that. Take care...Corina

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Corina: Thank you for you words of encouragement. I feel guilty when I realize that there are people that have lost their spouses ....like you and I am so upset over the lose of my parents. I don't know what I would do if I lost my husband of 38 years. He is not healthy and has many medical problems and I am so afraid that I will lose him to at 57. I know that I will make it through this time....everyone does....and I know that everyone has to take this journey at their own speed and I guess that I feel that I should be getting on at a quicker rate than I am but after reading some of the posts and talking with other people I find that I am being to hard on myself. I know that both my parents are in a better place. No more pain, my father has his mind back and they are in one another's arms again ...but I still miss them so much. I pick up the phone to call my Mom almost everyday...need to take it off my speed dial..My family has been great..no pressure for the holidays...just doing what I feel is the best thing right now. Christmas will be the bad one for me but will get through it...what else is there to do but get through it. I know what you mean as far as parents living on in their grandchildren. My son is just like my Dad...is personality and looks...

Thank you again for your kind words....you know how we nurses are...we need to fix everyone...and get mad when we are the ones that need to be fixed.

Funnyface

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now
×
×
  • Create New...