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Holidays After Losing A Loved One - Finding the Strength to Deal with the Pain

Updated on September 10, 2012
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"Lisa" , a "social sciences enthusiast" and Mom of three grown kids, writes from personal experience/exposure and/or past research

Finding Ways to Reduce the Pain Means Not Needing Quite As Much Strength

After we lose a loved one holidays (like life in general does) change in some ways and remain the same in other ways. Like life in general, holidays can, of course, be extremely difficult and painful soon after a loss; but in time (again like life) they again bring the joy they once did. Getting through the holidays (especially Christmas) that first year or two after a loss is essentially trying to figure out how to celebrate holidays while going through fresh grief. Anyone going dealing with recent loss of a loved one needs to keep in mind that grief is a matter of having a broken heart; and just as one cannot expect to function as he always does with, say, a broken bone; the grieving individual must realize that he shouldn't expect himself to function "as always" during the holidays.

One way to think of getting through the holidays is this: If we had a broken leg or broken back and had been invited to a big event (maybe an anniversary party or graduation party), we would probably plan to attend but show up in a wheelchair, realizing we would not be dancing. It's the same kind of thing when it comes to holidays and broken hearts. We would know that there would be other events at which we would dance. Family and friends would be happy to have us attend even if we couldn't dance. In general, everyone's expectations would be lowered. With regard to finding the strength to deal with the pain, the first step is to find ways to keep the pain from being worse than it needs to be. Taking the party analogy a step farther, imagine how the person with a broken bone would unnecessarily make the pain worse by just trying to dance. Accepting that a broken heart essentially means a "compromised emotional state" is less likely to bring on the unnecessary pain of trying to make the holiday what it has always been.

We have little choice but to "attend" a holiday that comes around in spite of the fact that we wish it wouldn't, so we need to realize that we will be attendance but we won't be "dancing" - and for this year (and maybe next) that has to be alright. My parents are both gone now. My father died on Thanksgiving, and my mother died that day before Thanksgiving. You can probably imagine what a cloud that put over all future Thanksgivings for us - but each year we continued to celebrate the holiday, ignoring the dark cloud that loomed over it. Eventually, the cloud diminished.

The first Christmas after each death was weeks after the death, so those we just got through those very first Christmases with numbness. With the Christmases that were closer to the year anniversaries, though, it was also difficult. One reason was that (at least for me) it's around a year that the numbness had worn off, and when I was faced with really feeling something I started to feel it all as if for the first time almost. I believe Nature designs us to become numb for quite a while as a way of helping us get through the earliest, most difficult, weeks/months and allowing us to postpone actually processing the realities of our loss later (we have become more accustomed to the them).

Whether it's Thanksgiving or Christmas, with each year the holidays become less painful, but it does take time. Know that the holidays will have a cloud over them, and try to find things that will keep you from paying much attention that "cloud". Christmas, of course, is most often the most difficult holiday to get through.

What I've learned is this: People who have lost a loved one over the last year or so should not expect much from Christmas for a year or a two at least. Stay away from particularly serious and holy Christmas music and events that usually stir up emotions or that sense of Christmas holiness or spirit. They can just be too emotionally moving and get you and thinking. Try to listen to the Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer and Winter Wonderland kind of music - or stay away from music altogether if possible.

Decide not to expect this year to be like others. Think of it - right upfront - as a Christmas from which you will need to kind of remove yourself from in some ways. Put up a few decorations if you want. If you don't feel like it, don't. Decorations rub salt into the wound for some people. Others may feel that putting up some decorations is something they will do "for the deceased loved one".

Think of Christmas as a dinner and the chance to give some gifts, but consciously try to keep from feeling any Christmas spirit or feeling the day at all. Put up a wall, so to speak. Keep in mind that your loved one probably would want you to get through the day as best as you can, so if you have to decide to try not to think about her/him as much as possible that's probably what s/he would want you to do.

Think of Christmas as that event that you'll have little choice but to attend, even if you cannot possibly "dance".

Chances are at a couple of times during the day you or someone else in the family may be struck by something that brings tears. That's ok. Sometimes leaving the group to let a few tears fall in the bathroom happens. When there are others around for whom you want to "be strong", the leaving-the-room approach can be helpful. On the other hand, if it turns out that one person's tears become the tears of a few others as well, everyone needs to keep in mind that such emotions are to be expected. As they have in the past, the tears will end (often as quickly as they began).

Let the holidays this year be completely different from other years because, again, you can go back to your traditions next year or the year after. This is a different kind of Christmas, and you need to do what it will take to get through it most comfortably. If you have a chance to go to any parties go. It's good to get out where people are being lighthearted and laughing. You probably won’t really feel up to going anywhere, and you’ll probably think there’s no point; but if you’re at all open to the idea of going, just go for a little while at least. It’s not disrespectful to go to a little Christmas party soon after losing someone. It’s a chance to get out and talk to socialize a little, even if you’re not the life of the party.

It’s best to stay away from alcohol as much as possible (particularly if you’re the type who gets gloomy and more likely to cry after a couple of drinks).When you’re trying to get through the first holidays after losing someone close it’s a time when you need to keep your emotions under control as much as possible. You don’t need your inhibitions lowered right now. People at the party will know you just lost someone. Nobody will be expecting you to dance on the tables. It’s perfectly acceptable to just go, have some holiday party food, and talk with a few people.

Stay away from the activities that you always shared with your loved one. Don’t go to places where you went with him/her this year. Decide to keep the holidays simple. If you can eat dinner at someone else's house or spend time someone other than where you usually do, do that. Again, you can go back to the old ways of doing things next year.

Keep in mind that these holidays are just days. They start at midnight and end at midnight, and there's sleeping during a few of those hours. Morning isn't usually as bad because it's not when most people have started their traditional dinner/festivities, so all you really need to get through is afternoons and early evenings.

The year my mother died my brother had already gotten the stuff to make Thanksgiving dinner. Because of my mother I had my younger kids stay with their other grandmother for Thanksgiving. My sister and her family stayed in their own house. My brother cooked dinner for me, my oldest son, and himself. We didn't get out any fancy dishes. We just sat together and ate the dinner. It was pretty pathetic feeling, but we got through it. My brother's reasoning was that since he had the food we may as well eat it. We did nothing else that Thanksgiving, but it passed.

Losing a loved one is an awful thing, and it takes surprisingly long to really get over it (as much as you ever will), but it's also often surprising how we actually get through those first holidays by going through the motions, keeping things simple, going out to be with friends as much as possible, and generally waking up the next day to realize that it was only 24 hours; and it is now over.

So, keep things simple. Do things differently. Stay away from things that you know will make you feel like Christmas. Turn Christmas (and Thanksgiving) into "toned down days" and do the things that you think will make it easier on yourself and other family members. It can help to just decide this will be a "lost" Christmas in some ways. Normal life and normal holidays will return, but this isn't the year for that.

Perhaps most important is this: Try not to be spending the days and weeks leading up to the holidays worrying about how you'll get through them. There was once a time when you couldn't imagine getting through losing the person you've recently lost, and now - difficult as grieving is - you've seen that you got through the actual loss. Again, even a big holiday like Christmas (with all the hype and decorations and preparations leading up to it) lasts only 24 hours. The days and weeks leading up to it are really just ordinary days. If at all possible, don't let Christmas reach beyond its allotted 24 hours this year by worrying about how you'll get through it long before it arrives.

On Thanksgiving this year, November 27, my mother will have been gone now for twelve years. This past Saturday, November 22, marked the 35th anniversary of my father's death. I learned a long time ago that trying not to think about the person we've recently lost doesn't mean not thinking about them later, daily, or forever. It just means setting aside thoughts of them (if at all possible) on those first few holidays when thinking of them is just so painful.

To anyone who will go through the holidays this year with a broken heart, keep in mind that your loved one would want you to do what it takes to get yourself through the day as well as possible. S/he does not have to get through the holiday the way you do. Imagine what you would want for that person if s/he survived you, and let that be your guide.

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    • Lisa HW profile image
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      Lisa HW 6 years ago from Massachusetts

      kent, thank you. If any of the words on here were even a shred of help, that means a lot to those of us (on here) who have shared in the hopes of maybe helping someone at least a little bit. Somehow, Christmas has a way of moving people toward reconnecting. I'm glad your Christmas could be a healing one and imagine next Christmas will be a whole lot easier, one way or another. Best wishes. Hope the New Year brings more healing and happier times for you.

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      kent 6 years ago

      Lisa thank you so very much for all of your attention. You'll never know how much your words helped me. As it turns out I was able to reconnect with my brother the only remaining siblings from my mothers children he and his wife and kids came over christmas morning and they open their gifts at my house it was a very emotional and very healing event. I am hoping and praying next year will be even better and again thank you for all your kind words and thoughts it helped so much.

    • Lisa HW profile image
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      Lisa HW 6 years ago from Massachusetts

      MarkTudor, thank you for sharing the lovely and inspiring poem, and I'm sorry to know you've recently lost your mother. Unfortunately, I'm not able to publish the poem and share it with other readers here because of copyright issues. I wish I could. Again, thank you for trying to share this nice poem with readers.

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      Colleen, I'm so sorry to know you lost your husband so recently. Sometimes it's when family members all try to pretend, and try to have some version of Christmas, that doing that at least kind of helps everyone get through it.

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      Colleen 6 years ago

      November 27th, 2010 I received that phone call no one ever wants to hear, a friend on the other end saying there has been an accident...I need to contact the RCMP in Peace River Alberta., We live in Ontario and he had been working out there for quite a few years.. I don't know why I did because I knew why I was calling them...A feeling I will never forget.. My husband of 17yrs was killed in a head on collision which was not their fault, and my husband was a passenger, in just another week he would have been home for Christmas..so for the sake of friends and family I acted like I enjoyed myself, but honestly I wish I was just left alone, to spend time thinking of him and what would have been....I know in time i will learn how to carrying on, But Really how does one carry on?. I am lucky to have his parents and families love me like one of their own. Since there is only myself and brother his wife n family, we have all bonded very close...We talked every night while working out there...Now I wait for these calls only to realize they will never come again.. I miss you Arthur (Artie) and will love you til eternity babe...xoxoxoxoxo

    • Lisa HW profile image
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      Lisa HW 6 years ago from Massachusetts

      Shauna, I'm sorry to know you've recently lost your sister and have had so many losses. It can get to feel like it's just too much. Thank you for sharing here, and for the Christmas wish. I hope you can have a nice Christmas too. That's what your father, sister, brother, and uncle would want for you.

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      Shauna 6 years ago

      I recently lost my sister due to a doctors mistake. This is not the first time it's happened though. My brother also had a similar thing happen. I also lost my uncle last year and my dad when I was young and it's just to much now. I love your hub and hope you have a merry Christmas. I will try to have one myself. Thanks

    • Lisa HW profile image
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      Lisa HW 6 years ago from Massachusetts

      Jules, I'm sorry to know your lost your father so recently. Thank you for sharing your own thoughts here with others. One thing most people who lose someone they love have in common is that thing that we tend to go back, think of what we "know now that we didn't know then", and think of how, if at all, we might have done things differently.

      As my sister and I have often said, when talking about losing our parents, no matter what the circumstances or what we do or don't do (or know); when it comes down to it, a family member's death is always "rotten", and usually comes with one set of regrets or another. In time, we tend to make peace with our regrets and come to terms with our human inability to know some things sooner than we wish we had.

      I don't disagree that we shouldn't "take for granted" that our family members/parents will "always" be here; but while life is pretty fragile (one way or another), love is not. I don't know.... Maybe sometimes people kind of prefer to live their "usual lives", as opposed to living life because it will/may end soon. Lots of times, people who have a chronic, terminal, illness will say the one thing they most miss is living their life without thinking about it ending.

      Your advice to others is wise, of course; and I'm not saying I disagree. I'm only saying there can be a "silver-lining type of thing" in even those situations that we'd wish could have been different.

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      MarkTudor71, sincerest condolences on the loss of your mother so very recently. I know that's not the most "original" thing to say, but I truly mean it. I know how awful it is.

      Losing a parent is pretty much one the biggest and worst kinds of loss people can go through (at least when they have a "normal" relationship with their parent(s)).

      There's no doubt about it, it's an awful, awful, thing to go through losing a parent; but somehow (Nature is am amazing thing) we all get through it and eventually that awful sense of grief goes away. Most people say we never really "get over it" - but we learn to live with it, be happy again, and see our parents in a light that is more focused on having had them with us - not on losing them.

      It may not help you much to know that so many others have gone through what you are going through right now, but maybe it can help if you keep in mind that, even if they can't put into words what they understand about what you're feeling; others do know how you feel and what you're going through.

      Christmas day will pass. I wish there were words I could think of that might help, but I know there aren't. Thank you for sharing your loss with others here who may be going through something similar. Maybe something you've said will strike a chord with one of them, and help them feel a little less alone.

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      MarkTudor71 6 years ago

      I've only just lost my mother, she passed away on December 22nd 2.30 p.m. through heart failure, See you later mum you were the greatest and will be sorely missed.

      I was searching the internet for help on coping with losing a loved one at christmas. For some reason I clicked on the link for this hub page and after having read through it all, I've kinda connected with it in a way I can't explain, or felt a connection with other posts I've come across.

      I realise from some of the wording used in the post that you are of American origin, myself I'm over-the-pond in Britain, but it appears to me that losing a loved one is never easy, whatever nationality you are.

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      Jules 6 years ago

      Thank you to all of you for sharing your stories of the loss of your loved ones, in the hope of encouraging others, even if it in letting them know that they are not alone in their grief. My story is slightly different, but I hope that it can benefit someone. I too lost my father this year, and although he had become a bit difficult to be around. From being a gentle easy going person, as he was often moody and grumpy. The reason was not apparent until he passed away suddenly in March, of what the doctors thought was a brain tumour. My parents were divorced, and my father lived in a different province, and only visited a couple of times a year, and not every Christmas. Last year, however, he arrived unexpectedly to visit, not having let anyone know, another symptom of the tumour that was taking over, making him impulsive and confused, and we had made plans to go away for a few days and were unable to take him with us. He spent Christmas day with some friends. If I had known I would not have him this year, I would have made it the most special Christmas ever for him last year. My advice to anyone who reads this who maybe still has a living parent, who could be a challenge, or for that matter all loved ones, is to make every holiday, the best ever you can, even if it is difficult, because you just never know when it might be your last with that person. God bless and hope you have a blessed 2010 Christmas, and that next year is better for you. Even in sadness, we can have rich blessings.

    • Lisa HW profile image
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      Lisa HW 6 years ago from Massachusetts

      Josh D, sincerest condolences on such an awful and recent loss of your young wife. I wish I had words that seemed right so soon after her passing away, but I know there aren't any words I could say. Stay strong and know that so many others share the loss of someone so young with you.

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      LinnyL 6 years ago

      Josh D - I read your post and it brought tears to my eyes. I can feel how broken hearted you are, and understandably so. I am so very sorry for your loss. Its very apparent how much you love and miss her. You showed it to her by staying with her and being strong for her. Take one day at a time right now and know that someday eventually, the sun will come out for you again. For now take good care of yourself and your child and know that she will always be in your heart.

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      Josh D 6 years ago

      I lost my soul mate of nearly ten years on November 24th to asthma at the age of 33. She is my best friend, wife, lover & soul mate. She lived to 33 but did not live to see me turn 33. It occurred to me moments before my birthday (Dec. 14) that I was a widower and single dad before I was 33. Each day the emotions get worse and the sadness gets deeper. Before bed and in the morning are the worst. My wife was always scared she would die alone so I am glad I was with her when she had her attack. I tried to save her but was not able to do that. She lived on life support for three days before she got worse and then there was no hope for recovery. I sat alone with her when her body left died. I believe her spirit lives on and I just hope she knows that she was my world & the love of my life. I miss you Baby.

    • Lisa HW profile image
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      Lisa HW 6 years ago from Massachusetts

      AEvans, I know the cloud that will be over your Christmas this year, and I hope you find ways to make it a little easier. Somehow, the day passes, and by the next time that holiday rolls around the loss isn't quite as fresh, and it seems that much easier next time around.

      This has nothing to do with anything (other than just how life goes on, I guess), but just yesterday I opened I mail and got a card with a beautiful and happy photo of my niece's four children. My father didn't know any of his grandchildren except for my niece (who was two when he passed away), and my mother didn't get to see any of my niece's children past the eldest one, also a baby when my mother died. My niece and her husband, themselves, have been through some big loss over the last several years.

      Anyway, when I opened the envelope and saw those four beautiful, happy, faces with smiling eyes they were just such a reminder of how life, for a family, does goes on (and how it can be happy and normal again). It was also a reminder that my parents' legacy does go on. :)

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      Julianna 6 years ago from SomeWhere Out There

      Lisa, Right now I needed this hub and it is good to know that it is o.k. to not be at full speed. This year I cannot even tolerate Christmas music but try my best to get through it. I have found great comfort in your words.

    • Lisa HW profile image
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      Lisa HW 6 years ago from Massachusetts

      al cousar, my sincerest condolences on the loss your daughter on October 31, and sincerest wishes that you find the strength to get through the holidays as well as possible.

      Unfortunately, I wasn't able to approve your comment because the link you posted was to a sales page which does not relate in any way to this particular Hub.

      I've taken the liberty of copying and re-posting your comment without the link.

      As you must know (since your daughter had this difficult birth anomaly), Spina Bifida can range from mild to so serious newborns don't survive long after birth. There isn't anything I can say here that will be of any use or value to someone who has recently lost a child; but I suppose there may be some comfort in knowing the Spina Bifida did not result in the loss of your daughter sooner than it did.

    • Lisa HW profile image
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      Lisa HW 6 years ago from Massachusetts

      Kent, I'm sorry to know it's still pretty recent since you lost your parents (especially your father). One thing I did notice about having my mother into my forties (as compared to only having my father in my life for just 21 years), was that the longer we have to get used to having someone in our lives, the harder it can, in ways, to get used to not having them here. I don't imagine it helps that your father's funeral was the day before Christmas. (My father died on Thanksgiving, and my mother, on the day before years later. It really didn't help, to say the least, when it came to dealing with that particular holiday.)

      My instinct is to think that if you get away and do something away from your home town, Christmas may be so different for you it may make things a little easier. Then again, I know how people can sometimes just not feel up to traveling or being away from home when dealing with loss. I'm not expert, but I do know that when we've had too many big, awful, losses in a fairly short time; we can feel anxious about all kinds of things. I also know that for me (after some losses of close loved ones), I almost felt worse at the one-year point than I did when I was still numb with shock and grief; because I think the numbness starts to wear off more at around a year (a little before, maybe), and it all feels really fresh again (while, at the same time, it's still too soon to be able to deal with it all that well). After my mother lost my father, there were times she said she didn't feel like doing one thing or another; but she'd go because, maybe, she thought a grandchild wanted her to go wherever it was. After she'd go she's always say, "I do feel better, and I'm glad that I went." I have no way to know if you'd say, "I'm glad I went," but if you're not glad once you're there, at least, maybe, you'll be glad to get back home. Besides, sometimes it's better to be somewhere we're not all that thrilled to be than to be comfortably-but-miserably at home.

      There's a part of me that thinks, "Do you want death to take more from your life than it already has? Why not just go. Next Christmas you may find another way to celebrate if going this year doesn't work out." Then, too, I think (I'm a parent of grown kids) how I would hope, if nothing else, that my kids would at least try to have at least some version of a Christmas with others if something happened to me.

      Still, I've had times when I've had so much grief going on in my life that I really just didn't want holidays coming "like a runaway train". One year (the year after I'd left my marriage and ended up being separated from my kids through no choice of my own), I refused to take part in Christmas with anyone at all. I went out and drove around the whole day and until late night. I put on happy music (not Christmas music) in the car, went to one Dunkin Donuts after another, and enjoyed the pretty Winter night, all by myself. My relatives didn't understand or approve, and I guess I may have kind of wrecked their day by doing that; but I figured I was the "star" of that particular "show" that year, and I was going to do what would help me get through the day. Any holiday is only 24 hours long at the most.

      OR, another way to deal with knowing the day will be rough might be for you to do something, yourself, to try to help someone else have a Christmas. Maybe something like volunteering to help with some charity or visits to a nursing home (even if it's the day before), and THEN ignore the day, itself, if you want.

      If it's the possibility of driving on Winter roads you're nervous about, I guess all you can do about that is watch weather forecasts and plan accordingly. If it's wondering how you'll take care of the dogs at someone else's house, there are ways to make visiting easier. A couple of extra large "pet carriers" (in case you have to let them stay confined for short periods of time - like during dinner, for example) can make it easier. My husband and I bought a really, really, long and strong chain so we could let our dog out from inside a house, without worrying about his getting lost (or me being out walking a dog at night). I'm wondering if it could actually be kind of fun for you and the dogs to take a trip together. OR, maybe you could make the visit right before or after Christmas, and do nothing on Christmas, itself. You'd know you'll be having a "mini-Christmas" soon, so maybe ignoring it on the 25th wouldn't seem so bad.

      If the idea of traveling is just too much, maybe you would be more comfortable just kind of ignoring the day, for the most part, but maybe treat yourself to a pumpkin pie, a great movie (not a Christmas one, of course), and enough naps to pass the day more quickly. The dogs might like a Christmas treat, of course.

      You need to do what's right for you (especially this year). That doesn't mean you can't "do Christmas" next year, or that you have to do the same thing next year. Really - the year I ignored it and drove around enjoying being out alone, looking at the lights, and enjoying the night sky wasn't all that bad. It was probably pathetic to someone else, but, to me, it was a peaceful and almost enjoyable solitude and way to get through an awfully difficult Christmas. I guess my reasoning behind that approach that year was, if Christmas it too bad to handle, escape it. Ignore it. People around you may say, "Oh, you can't do that. Just come to our house." But, if you feel like you'll be too unhappy to do that, you have to just go with how you know you'll feel.

      Even so, and even without knowing you, there's that part of me that's, I guess, hoping you decide to pack up your buddies, a fruitcake for the relatives, and a camera to take some pictures; and find a route that you'll be comfortable driving. OR, if you have someone who will feed your dogs at home for a day or two, just go and visit with the people who care about you.

      Whatever way you decide to deal with the day, you will get through it. Both of my parents died weeks before Christmas, and somehow my siblings and I got through those first Christmas and the year-after ones that weren't much better. Yes, you'll feel lonely on the day; but as time goes on and more Christmases come along, you'll feel less and less lonely.

      Sometimes it has to be kind of "OK" to just know that one Christmas or another isn't going to be all that great a one. Some are better than others. Some are great. A few, over the course of a lifetime, absolutely stink. Sometimes we all just feel as if it will be the end of the world if we don't have an absolutely great Christmas. You wouldn't expect yourself to run a marathon if you had a broken leg, so why do we expect ourselves to be happy absolutely every Christmas, even if we have a broken heart?

      One way or another, you'll get through it. Even the most lonely or rotten Christmases don't kill us or last too long. I hope you do what you know, in your heart, will make it as good as possible; and I hope you keep in mind that as some more time passes, you'll most likely find ways to have other people and things in your life that help make some of that loneliness go away. No, nobody will ever replace your parents; but even those of us who have lost the most loved parents there could be usually still have, or else find, other friends and family who help keep us from feeling too loneley

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      Kent 6 years ago

      I did not convey the close and daily support I recoeved from my Mother. We talked 2 to sometimes 5 times a day for 46 years then I lost her. We were always there for each other. I was born when my Mother was 17 so we kind of grew up together. My parents divorced when I was 3 or so and both re married and had children. I grew up with my Mother and admired and worshipped my Father. He was the strong honest and looked up to type of man everybody wanted to be and I was luckuy enough to be his Son.

      So that might help give a better picture. Most all of my family is 2 States away

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      Kent 6 years ago

      I lost my Mother Jan 18 of 2008. We went through Christmas of 2007 dealing with the unexpected news that Mom was full of cancer and didn't know how sick she really was. Not to mention she was only weeks away from leaving us. So then comes the sadness and anxiety of her loss the end of 2008 and fear of the Christmas season without her, and my Father died unexpectedly and suddenly on Dec 20, 2008. 11 months and 2 days after I lost Mother. So we spent the first Christmas eve morning after losing my Mother at my Father's funeral. I wasn't. Even close to dealing wit Mom's loss when Dad passed. So Christmas of 2009 I spent home due to weather concerns with my 3 canine kids. I can't figure out how to deal with the anxiety, fear, loss, and abject loneliness of the upcoming holiday season. Your writings help. I love my family but am scared to leave home with or witout my 'kids'. HELP.

    • Lisa HW profile image
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      Lisa HW 6 years ago from Massachusetts

      Sheila, I'm sorry to know this year's holidays will be those "firsts" for you. No doubt about it, it's rough. One thing that bothered me most was looking a cards for other people and realizing I didn't have to by a "mother" or "father" card. I guess it was that first year that I learned I'd have to just scoot past that section of cards and not even see any of them.

      Not long ago, I was in some discussion with someone about those times when we have sadness or grief (not just around the holidays, but any time or another in life). It made me think about how I think, over the course of a lifetime, we need to learn to make peace with the fact that we're not always going to be "OK" when it comes to whether or not we can be happy and celebrating and cheerful.

      Like you (and so many other people), I'm that type who always feels the need to be strong for others (especially for my kids, and I'm not wrong to feel that way, as far as I'm concerned). Heck - I didn't cry at either parents funeral, and I found ways to fight off tears (any number of times for the years following losing them) because the time wasn't convenient or right for crying (and sometimes because I didn't feel like getting a stuffed up nose and head as a result). So, my way of dealing with "being strong" and not crying has often been to find some way, any way at all, not to cry; to "store it all up" for a good long time; and then eventually plan to have a good, scheduled, cry by putting on the right music at a time when nobody was home or awake, and when a stuffy nose wouldn't be too much of inconvenience. (I know it's kind of weird and stiff and robot-like seeming, but I guess, to me, being able to control when and if I cried was a way to having at least that much control in my life, at a time when the rug had been completely pulled out from under me.)

      I haven't really changed my ways when it comes to the crying thing, but somewhere along the way I've realized that crying has nothing to do with "strong". Crying is a part of life. It's what everyone does at one time or another. We laugh. We cry. We do any number of things as part of being human beings and alive. I don't know... Sometimes it takes more effort and toll to try not to cry than it does just to go ahead and cry. Other people will manage and understand if someone who has lost a parent cries.

      Sometimes, it's strong to just feel comfortable saying, "This is a sad time for me, and I'm going to do/be what I need to in order to get through it."

      I guess, maybe, sadness is like an unwelcomed guest in our home. We don't want it to stay forever, and we aren't thrilled to have it with us; but sometimes we need to make a certain amount of peace with its being there, wait 'til it decides to leave (a little at a time), and realize it's normal and natural that we're not happy with the situation.

      The challenging thing with grief is that in the first several months we can be at least kind of numbed by it. We feel some of it; but Nature, mercifully, doesn't let us really feel it. Then, as the months (or a year) go on, the numbness wears off, and we start to feel it in new ways. What I found was that the numbness would wear off a little, I'd let a few thoughts that needed processing come to the surface, and then those thoughts would be so painful the numbness would return. I'd realize it was too soon to allow myself to think of one thing or another, and I'd go back to not thinking about a lot of things associated the loss for another while.

      Somewhere along the way, enough time passed that I could think those previously too painful thoughts without feeling as if they were way too much to deal with. I hate to say this (and I'm only talking about my own personal experience, of course); but even though the grief gradually improved over time (a little at a time), it took a whole lot longer than a year for it not to feel fresh any longer. It does get better, though. The second-year round of holidays (for me) weren't all that great either, but they were a lot better than that first-year round of them.

      Sincerest condolences on the loss of your mother. What helped me was to try to keep in mind that my mother would be "somewhere", saying, "Lovey, don't be doing this. Just have your holiday. I had my life, and I want you to enjoy yours." (I'm a mother of grown kids now. Not only do I know how my mother and father thought, but I know what I'd want for them Maybe it would help if you could give yourself permission to just try not to think about your mother through the holidays, and see if you can do things differently at least this year.

      Hang in. It does get better. Knowing how awful it is to go through, I wish there were something I could say to help - but I know there isn't.

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      Sheila 6 years ago

      Today is Thanksgiving. It is the first holiday without my mom. Mom passed in May, very unexpectedly. I've let a few tears loose today, but tonight, which is my time with mom....I just sit an cry, almost uncontrollably. How am I to get through Christmas without her? The holiday commercials on tv are setting me to tears. I always have Christmas dinner at my house and the idea of leaving an empty chair for mom is something I might do. Thank you for the post. Through blurry tears you made me feel like it's okay to feel the way I do right now. Right now the pain feels raw, like it was only yesterday that I lost her. I'm the type that always feels the need to be strong for everyone else and I will probably do a lot of "bathroom running" this holiday season! I just wanted to say thank you for letting me know that it's ok for me to still feel as grief stricken as I do.

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      Lisa HW 7 years ago from Massachusetts

      cask326, I'm sorry to know you've lost your mother so recently. I no longer have my mother with me either. It was rough, that's for sure.

      People will understand (and if anyone doesn't, too bad). It won't even be a year when Christmas comes around. It would be a rare person who didn't understand. I know people find that different ways of dealing with things works for different people; but I did find that doing Christmas completely differently, and just thinking, "We'll do some of the old stuff again next year," did help. It is only one day, and it will pass. Next year you'll be a little more used to not having her at Christmas (sort of, anyway), and maybe you'll be more ready to do some of those old things (at least the ones you can do) as a way of kind of keeping the nice aspects of Christmas because they were special for you and your family).

      I found that that first year was one in which I had no intentions trying to "pretend" it was Christmas as usual. It was just too much. By the next year, I was more in a frame of mind when I felt like, "OK, we're on our second year. It's time to start putting some parts of our life/Christmas as a family back together again." Not having my mother wasn't much easier that second year, but at least I was at a stage when I felt as if I was in a "build-back-normalcy mode".

      Also, something else that helped (the second year) after my father died on Thanksgiving one year was having guests for Christmas. It helped to try to make a Christmas for someone who didn't have a family to make a Christmas for them. Not that we want to do things for other people just to feel better ourselves, of course, but getting our mind on trying to make someone else's Christmas can keep us busy and make us feel as if we're doing something in a time when we, ourselves, are feeling so empty. (There is time for being more altruistic than that, but in the meantime, nobody has to know the underlying motives. Whomever it is we do something for just gets to benefit.)

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      cask326 7 years ago

      My mom passed away this past May and we are experiencing the same anxiety about the upcoming holidays. We've made plans to do something different for Thanksgiving but the thought of Christmas is hanging over us and we are all (my sisters and I and our father) dreading the day. Christmas was always my mother's holiday, she loved to decorate the whole house, set up her village, get out her santa collection, wrap all the gifts for the kids, grandkids, etc. Dinner was always at her house with two tables set for the adults and kids. My daughter and I would go over the weekend before to make up the lasagna to be frozen and then taken out to be cooked Christmas morning. I cry just thinking about all that will not be done this year and how difficult it will be without her here. I can't even think about Christmas shopping or sending out cards or even decorating. I just hope everyone understands.

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      Lisa HW 7 years ago from Massachusetts

      shell2004, thank you for sharing your experience and the fact that, even after that kind of awful loss, you're seeing a difference as the years have passed. I'm sure you don't me to make the "observation" here that losing a baby to stillbirth has its own set of unique "issues" (for lack of better word) to be dealt with.

      No matter how awful the loss is, though, time does eventually wear away at the grief (as you've found, and will, I imagine, continue to discover). Sincerest condolences (I know those two words can seem so over-used they don't seem to have much meaning, but they're sometimes the only ones we can come up when we know someone has gone through something so awful.)

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      shell2004 7 years ago

      very good hub. Well done. I lost my son due to stillbirth in October 2003 and the holidays were so hard for the first few years, Especially that 1st Christmas. Now i have learnt to cope and enjoy these holidays again whilst making sure to remember my son with tributes ect.

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      Lisa HW 7 years ago from Massachusetts

      madsadsister, I agree that people need to mourn as long as they want/need to.

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      madsadsister 7 years ago

      I feel people should allow people to mourn as long as they want. Realize that sometimes a happy occasion for them can be very trying for others. I don't feel Up to special occasions and I feel like in these modern times everyone is running through life and not reflecting on their mourning period.

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      Lisa HW 7 years ago from Massachusetts

      amulets, thank you for sharing your thoughts here. I never knew either of my grandmothers. Both died before I was born. On the one hand, I was spared the experience of losing a grandmother. On the other hand, I never got to have the experience so many people have with the grandmothers they love so much. Keep remembering those good days with them, and be happy to know they were both in your life.

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      amulets 7 years ago from Singapore

      I can understand the feeling as I had lost both my grandfather and grandmother. It is a very sad feeling but remembering the good days helps me getting through the days of sadness.

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      Lisa HW 7 years ago from Massachusetts

      marilou, I'm sorry to learn of yet someone else who has recently experienced such a loss. I'm not the least bit surprised to think you're still crying. In view of the kind of loss you've had, and in view of the fact that you have a child so young, it's a particularly difficult kind of loss. You're right, though - there are so many people who have gone through something like you are, or are going through something similar now, you're not alone.

      I know this is "ancient history"; but in my family, alone, my mother was 23 when her young husband was killed, and her sister was 20 (with a two-year-old) when her husband's appendix ruptured and left her a widow. Being widowed so young can make it particularly difficult in a lot of ways, but in other ways, someone who has lived a lifetime with a spouse and loses them can have their own kind of challenges.

      I guess the thing is losing someone close is always an extremely difficult thing. Anyone who has ever lost anyone close can tell you, though, that you will feel better and better a little at a time; until one day you'll feel more like yourself.

      I hope you are at least able to keep in touch with your family. I don't know if this will be of any help or not, but this link is to a forum called, "The Light Beyond", and it's for people dealing with loss of a loved one. There's a section for different types of losses, and this link is for "loss of a spouse/young widows/widowers".

      http://www.thelightbeyond.com/forum/forumdisplay.p...

      In spite of the awful loss you've suffered, how blessed you are to have your precious child. I'm guessing she brings her own kind of joy to your life.

      Thank you for sharing your situation/thoughts with others here.

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      marilou 7 years ago

      i am 25 yrs old, my husband just passed away last november 2009 1 week before thanksgiving.we have a daughter she's almost 2 yrs old.I was at work when he died.he had a heart attack while on his sleep. Too painfull for me, we were already making plans of what to to on holidays. we were gonna make a trip on thankgiving to visit a family. Its painfull, when u are at work thinking of doing something with your family when u get home but then u find out that your husband is already gone. Until now im still crying everday. My daughter is already asking if where is her dad. I am having a hard time to overcome this because my family is not here to comfort me. I am asian and only been here in the US for almost 3 years. I just pray that the pain will be lessen.I know God is always there for me.i try to think positive. Reading this hub helps me realize that im not the only person grieving. And have to face and accept the fact that my husband is already gone. God wont gave me this challenge if He knew that i cant handle this.

      I would like to share this to everybody who lose thier husband or loveone... Just hang in there. try to cheer up when u can. Avoid to be alone. Dont feel sorry to yourself because that would make u depress. make yourself busy and try not to think what had happened. God bless you all.

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      soup360 7 years ago

      are you geting money from google

    • Lisa HW profile image
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      Lisa HW 7 years ago from Massachusetts

      Rochelle, thanks for sharing your thoughts here, and I share your best wishes to all who, as you said, have been touched by loss of someone close. To you, as well.

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      Rochelle Frank 7 years ago from California Gold Country

      Yes, a lot of the comments are very pertinent. My Mom's birthday-- and the birthdays of a lot of departed family members, was in Thanksgiving week. Mom died early on New Year's morning ten years ago. Grieving is a different process for everyone. The sadness makes the happy-together times even more special in some ways, but it can take a little time.

      Wishing the best to all of you who have been touched by the deep sadness of loss. I hope you will see the special nearness of the memories you have, and the touch of those closet to you, still. Share everything.

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      Lisa HW 7 years ago from Massachusetts

      Til We Meet Again, so sorry to know of yet someone else who is going through such a recent loss. I think it's safe to say that what you're feeling is about as normal as it gets so soon after losing a parent. You'll get through it, and you'll function again. It's going to take time, and the holidays aren't much help so soon after losing him.

      I've so often tried to think of something to say to people who have just lost a parent, because I know how it feels, and I so wish there were something to say that could offer some shread of "feeling a little better" to someone going through such grief. I was 21 when my father died, so I didn't have children. When my mother died I was just past 40 and had my own young children. In the years since she has been gone my own children have grown up, and now I can look back and imagine what my mother or father, as parents of grown children, would probably have felt about what they wanted for us. I look at my own children and recall how I felt when I lost my parents, and today I think how, if anything happened to me, I'd truly, truly, wish there were some way for them to know how they've made my life absolutely happy and worth living, and if something happened to me tomorrow I almost wouldn't care (except, of course, that I don't happen to prefer dying tomorrow, and I certainly don't want them to have such a loss this soon in their lives). What I mean, though, is that they've made my life so worthwhile and so happy I would want them not to feel sad that I wasn't here and, instead, to find great peace in knowing how happy and blessed they've made me.

      It's different when your kids are young and you have that fear of leaving them without a mother before they've finished growing up; but when they're grown up, and you start to think about them losing you, you can see it more in terms of what you would want for them, as grown-ups, to think about. It doesn't help with missing having someone around all the time, but I'd want my kids to give themselves as much of a "mental break" from thinking about me as possible. I don't know you or other people who have shared here, but it breaks my heart to know that strangers are going through what I went through when I lost my parents. To me, to imagine my own children going through that, just makes me try to think of what I could do or say to them now that might help them put it in better perspective when it does happen. I've never done this, because it's "creepy", but there's a part of me that kind of thinks of how I'd like to say to my own grown kids now, "If I die, don't feel too bad. I'm an adult, and I'm fine (enough) with it." My inlaws (now both gone) had to go through the loss of their twenty-month old grandson, and watching their daughter go through losing her child. When they died I always found peace in knowing they were with their grandson and no longer had to live with the pain of losing him less than five years after they did. When I think of my own parents I know they never had to go through seeing one of their own children or grandchild go before they did; and I know how much having us made them happy; so I've always found some peace in knowing that life was relatively kind to them, in spite of some of the "usual" losses. In contrast to my inlaws, my parents got to close their life story without ever having to live with what so many parents don't even allow themselves to think about or fear. I find peace in knowing their story ended as well as anyone could ever expect it to; and that the one thing most parents care most about was something they got to have. I don't know if your father passed away without ever losing a child or grandchild, but I do know that my inlaws would be at peace to be with their little grandson. If he didn't go through any such loss, I think it's safe to believe that he left a life that was as whole as any parent would want his life to be. I don't know if any of these thoughts will help you find any peace, but I hope one or two does.

      I don't know if you've seen this here on HubPages, and I don't know if there's even a shread of anything worth reading in it, but here's a Hub I wrote a couple of years ago (or so) on moving on after the death of a loved one.

      https://hubpages.com/health/How-to-move-on-after-d...

      Whether or not you decide to read it, and whether or not there's anything at all helpful to you, when it comes to carrying on you'll find that somehow you just keep moving on. It takes time, and it feels horrible in the meantime, but you will feel better a little at a time. When my mother died a month before Christmas the thing that made me keep going was that I had three children who were going through the loss of their grandmother. It wasn't easy to keep up that "strong thing", but it served to help me get through it.

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      Til We Meet Again 7 years ago

      Thanks everyone for your comments. I lost my father last month after a two-year battle with one after another illnesses. He was 67. I have not been able to bring myself to put up Christmas decorations, but have two children, so my husband put them up this past weekend while my daughter and I were out of town. It's been a rough month and I feel no desire to get anything accomplished. My parents had been divorced for 20 years but my fathers death has brought up memories to my mom and it's even more difficult to know she is grieving as well. I am at a loss how to carry on. Some days are better than others. Some days all I want to do is cry. I have been unable to go back to work. It's even more depressing to see how unable I am to function and not care enough to try to fix it. I don't know if this normal or not. I just want to be able to get through this difficult time and be able to function again.

    • Lisa HW profile image
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      Lisa HW 7 years ago from Massachusetts

      Melinda, thank you. This Hub was written last year in response to a request by someone who was facing a difficult holiday season in their grief. As is always the case when it comes to there never really be the "right" words, it did seem, to me, like an issue worthy of being addressed. I still think it is and hope you write about it as you plan to.

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      Melinda L. Fisher 7 years ago

      Thank-you, Lisa for this article. This is a passion of mine, also.I have suffered many deaths.It is especially difficult at holidays.Those are the times,I think that hurt the most.I think that each and every person is different and deals with grief in their own ways.What works for one, may simply not work for another.I have always lit a candle in honor of the loved one who is missing from the party, so to speak.It shows respect,love,and that we remember them.It also brings comfort...as if a piece of them is with you during the event.For some, it is better to shut it out completely...out of mind is fine if it eases the pain. But,I know others who want to feel the closeness of the one deceased.I have both kinds of people in my family and we have lost many loved ones ...in many tragic ways.I think we should do what suits us best as individuals.And, whatever brings you comfort and ease of pain( non harmful relief mechanisims,ofcourse)...then that's what we should do.It's the hardest thing on earth ...to lose a loved one. I appreciate your article. I appreciate the fact that you have brought up this sensitive...yet touchy topic. I as well, plan on writing on such related topics that are near and dear to my heart. Thank-you..Lisa.

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      Lisa HW 7 years ago from Massachusetts

      Melanie, I'm so sorry to know you lost your grandfather so recently, I know what you mean about songs. At time in my life when I've recently lost someone I just won't listen to certain kinds of music until enough time has passed. The upbeat, cheerful Christmas music like "Rockin' around the Christmas Tree" and "Frosty the Snowman" kind of songs are pretty hard to stay unhappy listening to. Still, though, sometimes it's good just to have a good cry and let it out. This will be a harder Christmas for you and your mother, but if you do whatever it takes to try to enjoy it that's what your grandfather would want you to do. Thank you for sharing with others here.

      renee, so sorry to know this year will be one of those "first Christmases" after losing someone so close for you. Thank you for sharing your own thoughts with others who may go going through something similar. People (like me) who have lost a parent know just what you mean about losing a parent feels like the worst thing that has happened and about missing him. Someone we all just muddle through day-by-day, though, and somehow the worst of it passes.

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      renee 7 years ago

      Hi everyone, I really find that reading these post are very encouraging. I lost my father August of this year. Although my father had been on Dialysis for seven years, he was still up and going. He was diagnosed with esphogeal cancer in July. He had taken his first week of chemo-therapy treatment that was successful. But everything started developing at once, his feet started swelling, his heart started beating fast. He was given medication, which I truly caused his preamature death. But I know that his is not suffering. But it is still hard to endure. I just thank God for giving me the strength to go on anyway. I feel that losing my father is the worst thing that could have ever happen to me. I miss him so much. But this is life, we have to endure suffering physically and mentally, this is nothing compared to what Jesus endured for us. Thank you all for those encouraging post. I find it hard to listen to Christmas music this year, especially the older ones from the temptations, so I am trying to avoid many sad songs as possible. I am trying to change the house around also. But I believe that I will see my love ones again. I feel it in my heart, this time it will be everlasting.

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      Melanie xler 7 years ago

      my grandpa died this summer, me im only twelve but every sad song about christmas ( merry christmas darling) makes her cry and me too. its so sad. its so hard. he dies from lung cancer. its hard to find the light in such a dark time!

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      Lisa HW 8 years ago from Massachusetts

      Jeffrey, sincerest condolences for your losses last year. (I had one of those years, myself, ages ago; and a lot of people seem to find that bad things seem to come in streaks.)

      Thank you for your comment, because I do think people find that doing things differently often is helpful; and somebody else reading this will benefit from your mentioning that it helped you and your mother.

      Again, thanks for your comment. I wish I had something "worthy" or generally helpful to add here, but because I (like so many other people) know exactly what you and your mother are/have been going through, I know, too, there isn't anything "helpful" or "worthy".

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      Jeffrey  8 years ago

      I am 33 now, and last year had several losses. My father's mother died just before thanksgiving 2007. My father was in the hospital with an infection (he had cancer) at the time, and I was able to get him out in time for the funeral. My dad was home for 2 weeks (enough time to really "meet" his granddaughter"). Then back in the hospital. He was there there from Dec 20, 2007 till Jan 12, 2008 when he passed away with his family around him. He made all the decisions of his passing. He was completely coherent through it all. He passed on the 12th of January 2008. It has been a very difficult year. But when discussing "holiday time", the best thing that I did this year was to take my mom away for Christmas. We visited good friends 3000 miles away. We still celebrated Christmas, but it was in a different manner and a different place. This helped us a lot. We toasted Dad. We had nice time with others. Sure it was hard. But better than trying to pull off the old family Christmas at home.

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      Cindy Lawson 8 years ago from Guernsey (Channel Islands)

      I am sure Lisa's Hub helped you a great deal livelovecoffee, I just hope my comment did too!

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      livelovecoffee 8 years ago from Georgia

      Truly touching. I think sometimes you find a more defined sense of emptyness when you experience such a close loss. You almost cannot express your feeling and emotion which makes understanding how, nearly an impossible feat. Listening and reading someone elses words and experiences can hit that point that brings everything back together. I have recently experienced a loss and the comments and this post have helped me understand more that the emptyness I feel is not endless. Thank you for speaking from your heart because you have touched someones elses.

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      Cindy Lawson 8 years ago from Guernsey (Channel Islands)

      My First Husband died on Nov 23rd 2001 at the age of 48 two weeks after being diagnosed with bowel Cancer. His cremation ended up being on my Birthday, December 4th. I pretty much cancelled Christmas that year, and it has taken me several years for it to feel festive again. The good news is that it will get easier, but not as quick as you would like it to. You never forget your lost loved ones, but you learn to cope and know they are still watching over you. The pain does become less intense I promise, even if it doesn't feel like it at the time.

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      Lisa HW 8 years ago from Massachusetts

      Bill, all of us who have lost someone as close as a parent know exactly what you're feeling; and that numbness does gradually "wear away" over time. That "robot" feeling is part oif the numbness. As far as the pain goes, that numbness is almost like what happens if a person gets Novacaine for dental work - there is numbness that makes some of the pain go away, but if the dentist hits a nerve the person can still feel that (although, maybe a little less with the Novacaine). Still, it's better than not having any Novacaine at all. That "robot" feeling feels bad, but if it weren't there people in grief would feel a whole lot worse; so I guess we can be grateful for the numbness.

      When we've recently lost someone it's hard to imagine getting through those birthdays, holidays, etc.; and yet, as you've seen, we get through them somehow. A few years after getting through them we may look back and almost not remember much about the day. Still, there may be something that goes on on a holiday that will make you and family members feel much closer - and that kind of thing is what you will take from an otherwise "not pleasant" holiday.

      I do think if you keep it simple, decide to be ok with not having a happy Christmas, and do things a little differently than you usually do; those things can make it a little easier.

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      Bill 8 years ago

      I Lost my Dad August 4th of this year afterwords we went through , Thanksgiving , his Birthday & now Christmas I to be honest have no idea how I'm going to get through this holiday I'm trying not to focus on thoughts of him but I can't help it the pain I feel is worse than any other I've felt in my life I feel like a robot most days just getting up and doing the things I know I have to do otherwise to best describe it I feel Numb.

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      Lisa HW 8 years ago from Massachusetts

      flower93, I'm so sorry to read about what you and your daughter are going through.  I can't speak for other people, because people go through grief in their own ways; and I'm not comparing loss of my parents or other people with the loss of a young husband with a young daughter.

      What I found in my own situations was that things often did seem to feel worse as the months went by.  What happened each time for me for me has been that I was pretty numbed in the beginning, while the whole thing is new.  Of course, that doesn't mean "completely numbed".  I did feel what I thought was a certain amount of overpowering grief; but I losing someone so close at least makes us numb enough to be able to kind of go on "automatic pilot" and go through the motions of life, without truly feeling all the pain there is there.  In the beginning, I just didn't allow myself to really feel or think about all the realities there were to process.

      What happened for me was that as the months passed I would almost try to allow myself to really think about something that, until then, had just been too painful; but as I allowed myself to think about it I found it so painful I'd feel as if I'd be "re-numbed" a little (although not as much as in the very beginning).

      By the time the first anniversary was nearing, I had done several of these "trial-think-about-something" things, only to find it was too much - and kind of get re-numbed again for another little while.  It was probably around one year that I started to think I should be "getting over things a little", but it was then, I think, that all the numbness mercifully given to me by Nature had worn off completely; and it was almost as if I was feeling everything for the first time (but because it was a year old maybe it was old enough to at least then attempt to process it).  Before then, there was no "mental sorting" of any of the thoughts or feelings.  There was just trying to keep them from becoming too much.

      Maybe your feeling as if things are getting worse are something similar.  I wish I could tell you that it will pass soon, but getting over the loss of someone close is a long, long, road; and even then there's a certain amount of it that kind of just stays (even if it does get put in the background enough for us to be happy again).

      You don't need me to say that your feeling totally grief ridden is about as normal as it gets.  One thing is certain, and that it is that you and your daughter need to think of the way it will be least painful for you both to just get through the day.  Some people may find comfort in doing things the same old way, just as if the person were still here.  Some people may sort of do the things the same but keep things more "played down".    I have found that changing as much as possible during the first and maybe second Christmas has helped, and after that there can be a return to the old kind of Christmas with less pain.  There are people who take trips and do something completely different, and some people may invite lots and lots of guests as a way of livening things up but changing older, quieter, holiday routines.

      I suppose my reasoning has always been that while we are in any stage grief during the first year or so, it can just seem as if there's no point even trying to have a "normal" life/holiday.  There will be plenty of time for "moving on" and living a normal life after the loss, but this soon isn't, it seems to me, that time.

      Sometimes after a few months has passed since a loss we kind of think people around us (even we, ourselves) are thinking, "You have to move on, even if it's hard."  Well, of course we do; and - like it or not - we have no choice but to move on.  Still, we shouldn't feel pressured to resume normal life, do what "everyone" expects us to do, and try to "move on" before we've finished with the grieving process.

      Moving on and feeling more back to ourselves isn't something we can decide to do when we think it's time.  It's something that we one day wake up and discover we've done, after we've taken things one day at a time, one step at a time, and gradually returned to normal and ourselves only because we kept on taking those steps as time as passed.

      One of the things that may help you get through (particularly if your daughter is very young) may be that you will discover you prefer to be strong for her.    Depending on how old she is, one of the things that may help her is that she may want to be strong for you.  Then, too, chances are you'll both have times during the day when you can't stay completely "strong", and that's ok too.  

      There's no doubt it will be a rotten Christmas and News Years Eve for you this year, but try to decide what will make things less painful for you and your daughter; and go with those things.  Try not to be worrying about how you'll get through it, because - even if you cry more than you'd prefer on a holiday - you both will get through it.  Next year will get a little easier, with each year after that getting better and better.

      Naturally, I sincerely wish I could think of something to say that may be helpful to you; but you know best what will make the holidays as least painful as possible for you and  your daughter as possible.  Give yourselves permission to just go with what feels right for you, and try to think of Christmas as a time for sharing with the precious girl (and other people) in your life - a "warm" (and as "light" as possible) holiday, but not a particularly joyous one this year.

      Passing time will make it easier, but you need so much more passing time than just the few months you've gone through so far.  Sincerest best wishes to you and your girl.

       

    • profile image

      flower93 8 years ago

      I am not really sure I know how to deal with the holidays this year despite everything you have written above. I am 37yrs old & I have lost my husband just this summer. My daughter & I are totally grief ridden & instead of time passing making it easier, it feels like it is getting worse. I cannot imagine how we will get through Christmas day & New Years Eve without him.

    • Lisa HW profile image
      Author

      Lisa HW 8 years ago from Massachusetts

      womenfishing, I wish there were words to say that might be of some help to you, with what you've gone through - but, of course, there are not. You've probably figured this out by now, but it can help to find those two or three thoughts that you find make you feel slightly better - and just keep thinking of those when you need to.

      Sincerest condolences to you. Life does go on; and although you can't expect too much from it too soon, it does get surprisingly normal and ok again eventually. We're so fortunate when we have people who means so much in our lives - but, boy oh boy, it's rough to lose them. Again, condolences.

    • womenfishing profile image

      Terri Mackinnon 8 years ago from Toronto

      Thanks Lisa,

      Although it was extremely hard to read it being that I lost both of my parents 5 weeks apart this year, I know that it is good advice.

      Thank you for sharing, I can't tell you how much I appreciate it.

    • William F. Torpey profile image

      William F Torpey 8 years ago from South Valley Stream, N.Y.

      Good advice, Lisa. Everyone suffers loss at one time or another. It's the way of life. While it's never easy, it's important, as you note, to remember that the lost loved one would want us to get through the mourning period as well as possible. As they say, life goes on -- as it must.

    • Lisa HW profile image
      Author

      Lisa HW 8 years ago from Massachusetts

      Dr. Stephanie, good point (and sorry for your loss). Faith, of course, helps get a lot of people through a lot of awful times. I should have mentioned (and may go back and do just that) that my not mentioning faith in the hub was not a matter of my underestimating the power of faith. It's just that I aimed the hub at people for whom faith isn't quite enough or those who don't have the kind of faith needed to help get them through. After I wrote the hub I realized that I should have mentioned faith and the reason I chose not to approach the hub from that perspective, but I have yet to go back and edit.

    • Dr. Stephanie profile image

      Dr. Stephanie 8 years ago

      My partner and I lost one of her sisters three weeks after she participated in our wedding. None of the family realized that she had been ill, and no one was prepared for the loss, if it's possible to be prepared.

      What kept us going was our deep Christian faith and the love and support of our Pastor and close friends. We'll probably spend a lot of time celebrating her life as we mourn.

    • justmesuzanne profile image

      justmesuzanne 8 years ago from Texas

      Excellent! Thank you!

    • Patty Inglish, MS profile image

      Patty Inglish 8 years ago from North America

      Lisa -- This is a very good Hub to have congtributed right now, because so many Hubbers have lost parents and grandparents just in the last few days or weeks; for example, Mighty Mom and rancidTaste. This Hub will be useful for quite a long while.

    • Lisa Nance profile image

      Lisa Nance 8 years ago from North Carolina Mountains

      I lost both grandmothers and my father in the same year in 2003. We spent Thanksgiving that year in anticipation of my father's funeral the next day. Two weeks later my grandmother died. Two years later, the day before Halloween, my mother passed away. Even though some years have passed, I still have a gray cloud over me on these holidays.

      Your hub is so right on so many accounts. I think it really is best to realize the holidays will be a little more somber for a few years after losing loved ones.

      Thanks for this hub!