Grief and the Holidays

I’m literally dreading the holidays. I pictured this holiday season so differently.

People keep asking when my family’s get togethers are and what we are doing for the holidays. I just smile and say, ‘I don’t know.’ Because I really don’t. I really don’t know what we are going to do. I don’t know if I’ll get out of bed those days. I don’t know if I’ll take a shower or put on my makeup. I don’t know and frankly – I don’t care.

I don’t even want to put a Christmas tree up this year. I will in the coming years. Just not this one.

Candle in the dark

I was just browsing the internet and compiled some helpful information for our family members during the holiday season. Hopefully my family understands that this year just isn’t the same for me.

– Please talk about my deceased loved one at holiday gatherings.

– Be a quiet listener, and let me talk about my loved one and share memories.

– Ignoring my grief does not make it go away.

– If I am sad, let me be sad. Do not try to cheer me up. It’s important for me to feel the emotions I am feeling, even though this is considered a season of “cheer.”

– Sometimes it may appear that I’m functioning fine and that I’m doing well. Understand that outward appearances can be deceiving.

– Don’t make comments about next year being better or time healing my wounds; my concerns are focused on the here and now.

– Understand that I can’t do everything I used to do in holidays past, but don’t hesitate to invite me to holiday events anyway.

– Let me cry if I need to. You don’t have to say anything—just hand me tissues (lots of tissues) and be there for me.

– Understand that grief can go on for a number of years. There is no established time limit. Please don’t make judgments about how long it’s taking me to grieve.

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8 thoughts on “Grief and the Holidays

  1. This will be our second Christmas without Kyleigh. I really struggled last year and am feeling those same emotions start to creep back in now. I understand your feelings about being unsure as to what you will even plan to do. One thing that shook me up after the holidays was how many people (with smiles on their faces) asked me how our Christmas was, expecting an answer full of excitement and joy. I tell you this to prepare yourself for those questions too, because they came out of nowhere for me and were really upsetting. Taking the step to make others aware of how you are feeling is one of the best things you can do for yourself. Do you mind if I share your list?

    • Thank you for helping me prepare for that question. I never gave it a thought that people could seriously ask me how my Christmas was. It’s hard to even know what to say to that. Do I be honest? Or do I lie so they don’t feel uncomfortable? Hard to say. But thank you. It means a lot to know those questions could be coming. And of course you can share the list! The more people who are aware of our bereavement the better (and all others who are grieving during this holiday season). Thinking of you and praying for you ❤

  2. Not a day goes by I don’t think about you Maggie. I always wonder how you are doing or how you are feeling that day. Your blog is very eye opening and I appreciate you sharing all of this. You deserve the best and I hope with time your heart truly does heal.

  3. Pingback: How-to Handle Grief During the Holidays - Passare.com Blog

  4. These suggestions are really amazing. I see that someone’s already had the idea to ask, but I’d like to share this list on my blog as well if you wouldn’t mind.

    There are a lot of people who are either suffering every year around this time due to a lost loved one, or have recently suffered a loss that will affect their ability to enjoy the holidays as they normally would, or as they had hoped to. I think they would all benefit from having a list like this one be viewed by as many who are able to view it because so many people just don’t know how to help so they tend to make matters worse by trying to take your mind off of your loss when actually, the opposite is what brings healing.

    I’m so glad you took the time to make this list. I wish I’d had it when I was going through my first loss. Holiday or not, these are the things a grieving person needs from those around them.

    Many blessings.

    • Of course you can use it! I’m glad it will be able to help others that are grieving and help their family and friends. Even myself before I lost Jonah, I would not now what to say to a grieving person. Sometimes I wonder if I have hurt someone else in the past because I didn’t say anything when they were hurting so badly. Thanks again 🙂

  5. Reblogged this on Memoirs of A Blogger Saved By Grace and commented:
    Over the last several weeks, I’ve come across some blogs (purely by accident) written by grieving mothers. Those who have known me for any substantial amount of time know that I’ve lost two pregnancies of my own. One to still birth and one to miscarriage. In both cases, I was not on the receiving end of very much compassion or support for various reasons, but with the same outcome. I didn’t have a safe place to grieve so I just buried as much as I could and moved forward as best I knew how.

    I didn’t realize how much that I still had buried until I encountered these ladies who were so boldly and beautifully embracing their grief and slowly bonding with one another and sort making their way through this time in their lives side by side that I began to understand how crippled my grieving process had been. I felt a terrible obligation to be “better” for everyone else. I felt that obligation because I was told that I should and since I had no other options, I did my best to live up to it.

    Looking back, I should have done so many things differently. I did try to keep the pieces of my memories together in a safe place that I could return to and honor the lives that were taken from me, but the experiences were so traumatic that I rarely allowed myself to relive them even for the sake of releasing some of that love I was never able to give the children I lost.

    So this post goes out to anyone who has lost a loved one and anyone who has not. I’m sharing a blog written by a mom who is currently picking up the pieces of her heart after a still birth and she shared a list that I wish everyone would read and understand about how to help, rather than hinder and further hurt someone who’s lost a loved one.

    Christmas is swiftly approaching. While most of us are stressing and worrying ourselves over finding the right presents or being able to afford them, there are those who would give all they have in order to simply be able to see, hug, hold, kiss, speak to or just be close to someone they lost.

    Please don’t avoid them. Don’t forget them. Don’t ignore them. Instead, listen to them, validate them, grieve with them if you can, and above all.. just love them.

    We never know when we will have to walk a mile in that very lonely and deeply painful pair of shoes.

  6. Pingback: The Holidays … Round 2 | Kyleigh's Gift

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