This Thursday is Thanksgiving and this will be the first holiday I will be celebrating since I lost my husband. Since his passing in October, I have gone through a myriad of feelings, shock, grief, anger, grief, disbelief, grief…well you get the idea. I know these holidays will be very different for me and my family. How do we cope? is the question I have been asking myself and did some research to get some ideas as to how we can make this time a bit easier.
First of all the one thing I have realized above all else is that my life has changed and will never be the same. Because that is true for day to day activities it is certainly true for the holidays. It is not a time to pretend that the holidays will be as they were or attempt to duplicate them in that way. It just won’t work. So it is time to begin new traditions. I know we will have to take baby steps with this and we intend to. I have made it a point to communicate with my family as to what my thoughts are and how they feel about them. Some of the suggestions I had they liked and some not some much. The same with their suggestions. It is important to keep the lines of communication open because as we approach this challenging time I want to be sure we are all on the same page.
Researching grief this time of year here are a few suggestions that resonated with me:
- Change the location of where you usually spend the holidays. This year our family is all going to New York City. Some of us will gather for Thanksgiving dinner others will meet up during the weekend.
- Create new traditions. Around the Thanksgiving table in addition to sharing what we are grateful for we are all going to share a favorite memory of Thanksgivings past.
- Include a favorite dish of your loved one in the holiday meal.
- If there are special items from your loved one that you have been waiting to disperse this could be a good time to do that.
- Shelters welcome clothes especially winter clothing this time of year. If you are ready may be a good time to start clearing out the closets.
- Make a donation to a favorite charity in your loved one’s name.
- Splurge on a gift for you. Remember that self care is so important as you are going through the grieving process and being kind to yourself with nurturing acts should be a top priority.
- For Christmas we have had a few ideas. A candle lighting ceremony where each family member stands in a circle with a candle. When the first candle is lit the flame is passed to the next candle. The last person lights the candle in the center which represents my husband and their dad. I also thought it might be fun to pull names and give the person’s name you pulled a gift from dad. Thinking what he might do as he could be quite the gift giver with his last minute shopping!
The most important thing to note here is that you who are grieving should go through the holidays your way. If cards, cooking, decorating, and even gift giving is too much for you give yourself a break. As soon as you feel yourself doing something because you feel you “have to” or you will feel “guilty” if you don’t hit the pause button. This is a time for you to totally respect your desires and if the people around you don’t understand, than it may be time to use Rhett Butler’s famous line at the end of the movie Gone With Wind. “Frankly, my dear, I don’t give a damn.”
I’m in year 2 of my hubbys passing. This year has been far worse for me since the numbness of the first year wore off. It’s been an inner struggle as I maintain strength on the outside for my daughters. Now, it’s time for me to find my own healing and a sense of peace without my husband / best friend. I have to relearn how to make better decisions without his advice and groundedness. I need to honor myself and the sadness inside of me in order to heal. These are my feelings and they are what they are. I don’t need to put a time limit on my grief as it ebbs and flows. It is what it is and that is so. Blessings to you and your family.
Sue, I can’t help but admire the way you have worked to adjust your life to the loss of your husband. I hope someday if I have to face this devastating loss, I will be able to do so with the strength and dignity that you have. Much peace and love to you and your family this holiday season. Love. Moe