Christmas With Our Loved Ones in Spirit
How Do We Get Through The First of Everything
This will be the fourth Christmas without my husband Craig by my side physically, although I know he is still here in every other way. I am, of course, in a different part of my grief journey now, but the holidays are always a reminder that we are missing that special person - with Christmas being the hardest for many.
What I remember about that "First Christmas" was how sad I felt when I was picking out Christmas cards for members of my family. This would be the first time I would not be picking out a card for my love and best friend. As I stood there looking at the cards, and feeling very blue, I all of a sudden got an idea. Why not buy Craig a card anyway? Who said I could not do this? No one, and if it would make me feel better than this is what I would do. I was lucky enough to find a generic one that seemed to suit the situation. The cover simply says "For my Husband - Life gives beautiful gifts. On the inside it simply completes the throught saying "It gave me you." I felt that this was perfect. But most important of all, I left the store with a smile on my face. This card sat next to a framed photo of him throughout the holidays.
Passing the torch
My husband crossed over in September of that year and the first major holiday coming up would be our Canadian Thanksgiving which comes about six weeks ahead of the American one. Not only that Craig's birthday fell within the same couple of days and we always celebrated both together with the family. This year I could not even imagine how I would be able to do this.
Idea 1: Pass the torch to someone else, and this is exactly what I did. Oh, I did say in my head that I would make the effort, but when I called my stepson - he stepped up to the plate and said that he and his wife would take care of it. I cannot stress enough how relieved I was, and how thankful I was for the offer. So don't be afraid to let someone else take control.
Idea 2: Heading for the first Christmas I decided that I would host Christmas. After all there are grandkids involved and I knew that I would have to find a "new normal" eventually, so this would be a start. With Christmas card for Craig put out alongside his photo and a framed poem he had written for me years ago "A Christmas Wish For My First Love" I felt that I was inviting Craig to be with us. So, please do anything special like that to bring your loved ones into focus, because they are there. And they love to be included.
Idea 3: Purchase and hang a special ornament for your loved one that you can include every year thereafter on the tree to represent them. I have a lovely one that a niece sent me that first year. She said it made her think of Craig "resting" when she saw the angel on the half moon. I love it and it sits near the top of my tree every year now.
Craig's Angel Ornament
Idea 4: Make a donation for a charitable cause in your loved one's name. That first year my step-daughter and I made a donation of an animal to "Save The Children" in memory of Craig. We thought that was more important than buying for each other that year. And we were happy that we did it.
Idea 5: Joining a grief group is a good idea at any time, but that first year my step-daughter called to say that a church near her was hosting an evening for people who would be spending the holidays alone. This was not just for people grieving the loss of a loved one, but was for divorced people, and those who either have no family, or have no one living close to them. This made both of us realize that we are not alone in this. There are people who have similar and sometimes worse situations. It was an eye-opener for both of us and it was good to share suggestions with one another as to how we could survive this "family oriented" time of year.
Idea 6: Set a place for your loved one at the table. I know a lady on Facebook who sets a place for her son at every celebration - with a candle dedicated to him. Strangely enough I miscounted this past Thanksgiving at my place. When everyone sat down there was an extra place and I had not planned that. I just smiled and felt "it was meant to be". And so I left it - a place for Craig.
Idea 7: Do something special for yourself. Get a facial or a massage. Buy yourself some flowers. Go out for lunch with a good friend. Buy yourself a Christmas present. I have done that the last two years in a row.
This year is a very special one because it involves an original oil painting that my husband had purchased in our early years "because I said I liked it". The matting had bubbled after all these years, so I took it to a framing gallery and had them put a new matting on it. This has special significance for me as it feels like a gift all over again from Craig. Maybe there is something that you can do that brings your loved one into focus too for the gift.
Idea 8: Watch for signs that your loved one is with you. I am not alone in this. Since I wrote my book "A Breath Away" I have had the pleasure of meeting and chatting with many many people who take comfort in the knowledge that their loved ones still walk beside them. Check out your holiday photos for orbs - a sure sign of energy and the fact that spirit is with you. Pay attention to that special tune that seems to be giving you a message, or the number sequence that you seem to be seeing over and over again. Does that licence plate on the car you are following mean something to you? Do you feel it in your gut!!?? What's that tingling feeling against your skin, or that feeling of something in your hair? Is there a favourite bird of yours and your loved one that keeps flitting around within your view - or a butterfly; a dragonfly or a ladybug? Coins and feathers appearing out of nowhere? I could go on and on, but I hope this will twig or jostle a memory in you. Most of all, keep thinking of your loved one. Keep talking to them. They will hear you, and they will respond Yes, go on with your lives, because we all must, but we can move forward with them by our sides.
Heirloom Tree Ornaments
Memories of Mom
My mom crossed over this past January 2, 2013 and so this will be our first Christmas without her. We did not have her at our table last Christmas as she was not in very good shape in a nursing home. We did visit with her of course, and so I think of this as "the first Christmas" that she won't be with us. Continuing on with ideas of how to get through Christmas with the Spirit of Our Loved Ones.
Idea 9: Use any keepsakes from that special loved one at this holiday celebration. For me, my mom was very talented with sewing, knitting, and cross stitching etc. I have many handmade Christmas ornaments from her. Along with that are ornaments that my aunt (who will be 100 this coming December 8) made - and so I have a special little tree with all of these handmade treasures. I will always think of mom when I put up this tree, and of course my aunt when it is her time to cross over. So get out those treasures and display them. Maybe it's some woodcarving of wonderful animals that dad or granddad did. Whatever it is, display it in their honour.
Below is a vignette that honours three people in my life who have crossed over. The "Oh Christmas Tree" picture is a cross stitch done by mom. She used to hang it at Christmas at her place, and now I take it out at Christmas and hang it on my wall. The angel on the right, which accompanies my angel on the left belonged to my Aunt Mary who crossed over in 2007 and the frame in the middle holds the Christmas poem written to me by my husband Craig. In this way I feel I am bringing them into focus, and celebrating with them.
Think of Others
Idea 10: Try to do something nice for someone else. It will not only make them feel good, but it will uplift you too when you see their happiness. For this idea, I will share something I did. I have a page for my book "A Breath Away" on Facebook. Through this page I like to post pictures appropriate to the issue, that I find on Google, and I insert my own little sayings. Folks seem to like this. I got the idea the other day to put together a virtual Christmas ornament for Craig, and then followed through with one for my mom.
Of course this was for myself and my own spiritual family. But I have come to know two families who have lost precious little girls within the last few years. I decided to put together virtual tree ornaments for them and I have to say that they were thrilled - and so of course in turn, I was happy too.
Whatever it is that you can do, trust me that it will be worth it. Peace and Blessings to all of you out there. Enjoy this Christmas season and remember to keep your family close, both physical and spiritual.