CELEBRATING THE HOLIDAYS WITHOUT THE ONE YOU LOVE
Getting Through the Holidays When I Have Lost the Love of My Life
I have thought about this since working my way through Thanksgiving. Then came his birthday and a few days later there was my birthday and now here is Christmas and the New Year. So, I decided there are some ways to accomplish this effectively and happily and most importantly: realistically. I have to believe that Steve is always here with me. Not wanting me to be sad. Instead, he would want me to celebrate his life through the holidays and always. Yes, I do get teary eyed now and then and sometimes it is a little worse than other times. It is called the process of grieving. I must allow myself to go through it, as long as it takes. I am sure that there will not ever be a day that he is not on my mind (more than once - like now it is every time a decision, especially major decisions and sometimes it is just the fact that he is on my mind and I want so much to tell him something). So what do I do? I tell him. Right out loud, just as if he were right in front of me.
Here are some ways that I have been managing. No, it is not for everyone. It is MY way.
- I work my way through it slowly. Losing a very special loved one during the holiday season can be a painful reminder of the terrible loss I am feeling—instead of the holidays bringing me warmth, love, and excitement as they used to do, I work on turning my feeling around by hearing Steve's voice in my head of how we went through the holidays together and to continue with the warmth, love and excitement with other family members and friends to keep it exciting and full of adventures. The one major thing that helps me is to hear my granddaughters giggling and to see their excitement.
- Be patient and realistic. Sometimes my own high expectations of the holidays make the pain and frustration more acute. ... Again, I have to work on not so much lowering my expectations, just know that things will be different. Keep expectations high through the holidays and birthdays. It is what Steve would want. Always. If I had been the one to go first, I would want him to hold on to our love and keep celebrating! Smile and be happy. Yes, there will be times, let's be realistic, that I will have meltdowns. I must allow myself those moments, just not wallow in them. I know I must shake off that mental image of how it used to be and be a little more creative of how I can be gentle on me and know that things will not be the exact same way. It is okay to work on changing things up a bit. Planning ahead and making lists so that I can think things through that may help me.
- Adapt cherished traditions! Let me throw out a few examples:
- Thanksgiving - we always cooked together and had our children over. I just could not bear to cook this year. I offered to take everyone out (one year Steve and I did this due to the fact that our kids were off somewhere else and that was okay). We had a spectacular meal out at a very nice restaurant. However, our son and our daughter who were here decided that they were going to cook and changed a few things that were traditional around. I loved watching the two of them cooking together. It was a very special day.
- His birthday was spent in New Orleans. Kids decided that I could be out of the house on his first birthday celebration without him. So, that is when I rode Amtrak The City of New Orleans down to NOLA to be with another son and his wife with two more granddaughters. We cheered a bottle of champagne to Steve for his birthday. The girls, who were 6, did use real champagne flutes with milk in it. Adaptation! I could feel him smiling down on us all.
- My birthday was spent back in Memphis at The Peabody for High Tea. Steve and I had already made the reservations together. All I had to do was to be sure both granddaughters were added on and my daughter would be the other adult. It was a special tea party in The Peabody. My youngest daughter said that it was a real Princess tea party for my birthday. How special! The girls loved seeing the Gingerbread castle, the two story Christmas tree and going into the duck store to see all of the shirts, books, toys, etc. with ducks. I found an Elvis rubber ducky just to send to NOLA for a "tacky Elvis" gift that Steve loved doing with them each year. This way, it could get the granddaughters involved also.
- Christmas now and so far it has
- been delightful in how it has worked out. Together, my daughter, son-in-law and granddaughters have pulled it together and brought me along. We managed to get decorations up with everyone's help. As Amazon packages and FedEx packages arrived we sorted them out on the big dining room table in order. Jenni managed to get the girls elves put away in a new location each night and one night the two of us had the girls watch TV and play upstairs while we unwrapped brown boxes and put Christmas paper and name tags on presents. Now the tree looks like the real deal. It was very special doing that with her. Then when she was off at work, I took care of wrapping her gifts, even her birthday gifts which falls on the 30th. Stocking stuffers were labeled in my room. All complete, although there are still a few gifts still arriving. Two may arrive late after Christmas, but a note can be put under the tree stating that Santa needed extra time. As I was pulling the gifts that I had purchased earlier out, I remembered that Steve and I ordered them together. One was for Bailey, eldest granddaugter and one was for Jenni. He had used his special phrasing on Jenni's card telling her how special she made him feel being his daughter. Did that bring me to tears? Yes, it did. I could not hide that. Skylar came up to me and hugged me tight to tell me everything is ok and that it is ok to be a little sad. All I can say is that wisdom comes out of the mouth of babes many times. For me, the holidays are a time of peace and reflection. This was when I was with Steve physically as well as now. He was a special gift to me and will always be my special gift. Every single thing that Steve and I did just did not happen this year. The mailbox is not decorated nor the special twinkling lights that he put out front to glimmer on our house and they even came through the windows in the front rooms did not happen this year. And that is okay. I did, with the help of my live in family made it special for us. We were adaptable and creative. We still are going to celebrate the British Boxing Day. Before, we usually made this our Christmas Day due to the fact that our granddaughters needed to be in their own home with their new toys and stockings. It would have been too much to load them up to come over and have Christmas with us. We always enjoyed a quiet Christmas Day and Boxing Day was a double celebration. This year I will be able to enjoy both. Now that they are living here with me, I will get to see the joy on their faces as they get up for Santa. We will have something maybe a little non-traditional on Christmas Day. Plans yet to be made. Talk of spaghetti? Who knows? Then on Boxing Day, I am thinking that maybe we will all go out to eat. We will be busy cleaning up the house and putting gifts away so maybe going out will be the best thing to do. We will talk about it together and decide. Adaptability!
Once again a thoughtful, heartfelt, & honest post. I am so happy to read you are staying hydrated! Sending caring thoughts to you. MERRY CHRISTMASReplyDelete
A very positive and courageous approach to working through your grief. Love the way you talk to Steve and feel his love and guidance and his desire for you to be enjoying new adventures. He will always be with you as you say! Beautiful.ReplyDelete