Grieving during the holidays

My Dad died in May and my Mom lives here beside Jack & me.   Christmas Day would have been their 59th Anniversary… so I’m sure that you understand how difficult this holiday season is for all of us.  

I know however that I am not alone in these feelings.  When I asked for suggestions for our upcoming podcast series the subject of dealing with loss & grieving topped the list of struggles our friends are experiencing. 

This blog isn’t as much about my need for support… though I am grateful every day for the support that I receive from you!  My purpose is to help those who are working through grief as I am.

There is no magic potion or switch to flip that can  instantly move us beyond our grief.  It is a very personal matter and we all need to go through it in our own way. What we can do however is find that little piece of hope and celebration that feels better. 

If anyone tells you to “cheer up” or “get over it”…or the dreaded “Dad wouldn’t be happy if he knew that you weren’t moving on with your life” speech.  Thank them for their concern but do not argue with them. You don’t need the aggravation right now…you’re grieving. 

Here is a Simple Step to help shift your grief to where you can start to see the light at the end of it:

  • Acknowledge how you feel if only to yourself. If you trust someone else enough to share your feelings, then do.  If not, don’t expose your grief for others to judge by their standards.  This is about you…no one else.  For me this sounds like, “It had only been these last two years that I had a chance to know my Dad as an adult.  I am sad that I didn’t have longer with him.” 
  • Shift your thought to a more positive focus.  Using my example that sounds like this, “I am lucky to have had these last two years to get to know Dad better and for him to know me as an adult.  We had a good relationship and at the end of his life I knew that he loved me and I loved him.”  Doesn’t this thought feel just a little bit better than what I stated in the acknowledgment 

Little by little you can shift your perspective to a place where there is a more positive feeling.  Then, in time, you will open up your heart to one of gratitude.  You know that you were blessed to have them in your life.   You will move from celebrating because that’s what you do at a funeral or wake to celebrating their life because of the joy they brought to yours.  And that feels better. 

7 thoughts on “Grieving during the holidays

  1. I can relate to the holidays being a time of sadness. I have not celebrated christmas since our son michael passed in 2006…he was just the best. He was disable..but so much fun..he loved his life..simple things..seseme street…bambi..sound of race car driving with is sadly missed..on especailly now. I think this year for the first time..we will have a tree…and think fondly of mike..and pray that whereever he is..that he is celebrating his life ..a better life that he can…run..laugh..and be so sickness. I can live with knowing that god took him from give him a better life!!! So celebrating might be a good reason too at christmas to have that tree!!!

  2. My parents died with in with in a year of each other : My dad just before Christmas and 11 months later my Mom died Thanksgiving week-end.
    Both were quite young :60 and 53. I was their caregiver and moved my family in to take care of my mother during Mom's cancer care.

    During the Holidays traditionally My mom was always in the Kitchen cooking , cleaning, slaving… while all the rest of were enjoying our selves elsewhere in the house. And after dinner we all skedaddled as fast we could to go play with Christmas toys in the Livingroom where my dad would read a book and smoke his pipe.Mom was left with most of the clean up.
    When she passed away Thanksgiving week-end, my oldest son's 5th birthday was in two weeks , one day before the first anniversary of my Dad's passing and I just could not face planning a big Christmas dinner.
    So I brought my family together and said ,"here's the deal, NO more mommies in the Kitchen during the holidays. I want to be with you in the Livingroom playing and being silly. " So we got Chinese take out , stayed in our PJ's all day and that became our Christmas tradition. That was 18 years ago.
    The day after Thanks giving we buy all of our trees and Saturday we invite all of our friends and family to join us in decorating the house, trees , and making the first batches of Christmas cookies while listening to my Mom and Dad's favorite Christmas carols..
    I still miss my mother and father but I have brought them forward with me each year. My sister died 11 years ago the Tuesday before Thanksgiving so I put a "Lisa" tree outside for the birds and decorate it with cranberry and popcorn, suet cut out with cookie cutters, and pinecones rolled in peanut butter and bird seed.
    I needed new traditions to allow me space to grieve and have this new life they did not live in daily.

  3. This comes at a opportune time…my sister lost her 67yr old husband this October to Alzhiemers Disease, and the holidays will be soon here.
    I have been thinking of how to approach her and meet her needs to make it through this emotionally sensitive time for her. Your thoughts have helped and I will try to pass them on to her.

    The Holidays seem to amplify loss for many, whether recent or in the past, especially those already depressed. Expectations run high and often if things don't turn out right it can spell disaster for many.
    Its a very "artifical" time of the year, and I often find myself wishing they would be over a lot sooner because of it…:-)

  4. Holidays really get me down. My father was as they say called home at the age of 42 years young, I was 3. I have always had a hard time because I battle with if I would be anything more (or less) had he been an integral part of my up brining. Then, my mother and brother within 1 year of each other my mom 1-15-95 and brother 1-26-96, they both got to meet and love my two older children, but my two younger ones came along in 99 and 02 and I wonder what / how they would have interacted with them, and my 2 younger ones are missing out on their love…Shoot I am missing out on their love, I do indeed try to put a positive spin on their passing, but during the holidays its a struggle…I have a odd impression of them being in heaven, sitting around the clouds and hanging out with the likes of Ben Franklin, George Washington, Lucille Ball and I do end up laughing because thats exactly who my mother would search out…my brother, it would be all the great rock stars like Hendrix, Lennon, and Elvis. They say time heals all wounds but I think "they" truly didn't have any huge wound to try and fill and heal.

  5. The same process is true for divorce. Today I can send compassion to my husband rather than the deep grief I associated with his leaving me.
    There is so much out of my control, even the feelings of grief. It was shared with me that it would get better and it does.
    Hugs Cheryl. Your loss is a loss and grieving is a part of that.

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