Encouraging Note Concerning Holidays

lulie___wayneNovember 24, 2004

The holidays are quickly approaching, and I know that many of you may be anticipating the coming days with dread and feelings of fear as to what they may be like without your loved one with you. We can certainly expend mountains of energy dreading and fearing these special times. We either "awfulize" about how we're going to feel--painting dreadful mental pictures of searing, unbearable pain or hysterical reactions.

Some of us may absolutely refuse to allow our minds to even touch on thoughts of the days. Either way, the dread and fear can overwhelm us. Here are a few suggestions that I'd like to make for you that may help:

First of all, remember that it is perfectly normal to be afraid of what we THINK might happen. Our reaction to the death of our loved one is so unlike anything we ever expected that we are sure that the holidays are going to be even worse. Let me assure you. Just as your grief reactions are normal, so is your fear.

Secondly, remember that by the time "the day" arrives, you have completed most of the hard work of the holidays. It's is in the DOING of holiday tasks that the pain lies, so, by the time the day arrives, the real work is over. :-)

Thirdly, know that the day is only twenty-four hours long. You'll get through it like you get through any other day - some harder, some easier.

Lastly, take charge of your fear. Tell yourself that it's okay to have any emotion that you want about the holidays. Make concrete plans for your behavior. Give yourself permission to cry or scream or, yes, even laugh if you feel like it.

Make contingent plans that you can put into practice if you actually become distraught. I have found that having control over my emotions and knowing that it's really no different from any other day helps. I tell myself that I don't HAVE to be sad.

With Thanksgiving approaching, as well as Christmas, I try to be thankful for all of my blessings and the all of the people who are still with me instead of dwelling on what I don't have. Instead of looking at the empty chair, look at all of the full chairs.

If you would rather spend the day alone, then do it and don't let anyone make you feel badly. If you want to do things differently than before, then do it differently. The bottom line is that you have to be able to allow yourself to do what you feel you need to do to get through the day.

Blessings to all of you. I hope I helped.


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Lulie, you post is a blessing and comes at the perfect time. A friend of mine fresh in grief from the loss of her husband is really struggling with the thought of the holidays. I was actually online tonight for the specific reason of finding something to encourage her. I will print this and give it to her tomorrow. you are a blessing. Thank you.

    Bookmark   November 24, 2004 at 11:58PM
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Nell Jean

Lulie, you always have such encouraging words.
We had contingency plans, in case I was too 'cranky' to cook. Bless those folks who prepare a Thanksgiving dinner in restaurants for those of us who sometimes just can't. Happily, we are past the birthdays -- well, mine's today -- and I am cooking a turkey breast AND a ham. Sometimes I think I'd rather cook than dress and put on a 'going out' face.

Online friends are just super. My husband refers to them as 'your Imaginary Friends' but you're very, very real. The monkey directions are almost finished on my web site, if you'd like to look. Click on Make a Monkey 1-4 and look at all the steps. This has been a healing project for me, thanks to a lovely lady down in Texas.


Here is a link that might be useful: Monkeyman

    Bookmark   November 25, 2004 at 7:46AM
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Thank you so much for your words of wisdom. My mom is having such a hard time without my dad. I will print this for her.

    Bookmark   November 28, 2004 at 6:40PM
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You are all so welcome! I'm glad that this was a help to some.

    Bookmark   December 4, 2004 at 3:12PM
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Lu, Your message was written just a few hours after our Aaron died. So...we have already spent the first holiday without him. We had many loving friends and family members with us. It was a day of shock and bewilderment and tears and disbelief. How could a healthy young man suddenly just die?

I was at first wondering what we could do about Christmas and in particular about his stocking. We all have red felt ones with tiny items symbolizing things that happened during our lives. I couldn't bear to hang his and have it not be filled but to not hang it seemed wrong, too. I will not hang the red one but am in the process of making him a white one. It will have gold lettering and symbols to represent his new life in Christ. We didn't put up outdoor decorations but went out and bought a new one...a wire sculpture angel. We put a stone beside it that say, "Believe". We will put up a Christmas tree. We have mostly personal ornaments and it will be a bittersweet time when we decorat it. I will divide up Aaron's ornaments so we will have some and so will his sister and brothers. The little grandchildren will help us smile. We NEED to celebrate Christmas because it is our God who comforts us in the knowledge that because of his son our son lives also.

    Bookmark   December 4, 2004 at 9:49PM
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Carol, it sounds as though you are doing amazingly well. Yes, we DO need to celebrate. Holidays aren't all about US, are they?
I still hang Christin's stockings every year. To me, it doesn't seem right not to. I also sign her name to just about everything that I send to other people such as Christmas cards, gifts, and the sort. I feel that she has been and always will be part of our family and I just don't feel right leaving her out as if she doesn't exist or never have existed. Some people may think I'm crazy, but I really don't care.
We all have to do just what we feel during this grieving period. Next year you may feel differently. Just take it as it comes.

    Bookmark   December 4, 2004 at 10:17PM
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I just want to clarify something that I said in the my last post in this thread. I said,"We DO need to celebrate". I was agreeing with what Carol said in her post about us celebrating the birth of Jesus. When I said we DO need to celebrate, I didn't mean that it is necessary to put up decorations or have dinners or go to functions. I meant that if we are Christian we should try not to just ignore the day, but "celebrate" or acknowledge the day in our own quiet way if we can, the best way we can. We don't HAVE to outwardly DO anything.
I hope I explained this correctly.

    Bookmark   December 5, 2004 at 10:09AM
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My 13 year old brother drowned in June, 1971. I was 16 at the time and my sister was 11. I realize now that at 16 I did everything I could to stay away from the house, while my sister was trapped with nowhere to go. My Mother didn't want to do anything for Christmas, and my Dad tried his best to protect her from anything that would cause her more pain. The saddest thing I remember is my little sister dragging a raggedy cedar bush limb into her bedroom and decorating it for a Christmas tree that year. In later years, we began to celebrate Christmas again, especially as grandchildren arrived, but my Mother never quit apologizing to us girls for the way she felt that she had ignored us after Joe's death. Evidently that weighed heavily on her mind, but neither of us remember feeling ignored, but more concerned for her. We could never have the same holidays we had before, but we had good ones again, and continue to have them with Mother and Daddy gone. There are always sad moments, but we remind ourselve how lucky we were to have the good family we had and the ones we still have, and know we have had something special that some people are never fortunate enough to know. This year there is a new grandbaby (finally a girl!) who will be 14 months old at Christmas. While we are all sad for the absence of her grandparents and uncle, we know she has some great guardian angels looking out for her.

    Bookmark   December 5, 2004 at 9:53PM
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My son died a year ago and I have been lurking here for a couple of months reading everyone's posts. The Compassionate Friends website has some really helpful hints for dealing with the holidays at:


    Bookmark   December 8, 2004 at 11:55PM
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Thank you so much for your kind words. I sent what you shared to my mom and it helped her. I just keep telling her that by the time the day comes, it will be okay and we will get through it. We are changing some of the traditions, she just can't do them without Dad and none of us really have the spirit anyway.
I wish you peace this season. You have had so much loss yet you have comforted us all so much.

    Bookmark   December 12, 2004 at 1:44AM
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Joanie, I'm so glad that I helped your mom. I hope that you all can have a peaceful, blessed, holiday.

    Bookmark   December 15, 2004 at 12:36AM
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Carol, I read on another site about someone who wrote a little note for her late husband and her son did the same for his father and put it in his stocking. They have done it each year for several years, and leave them in the stocking which they still hang on the mantle. Seemed like a lovely idea for them.

    Bookmark   December 17, 2004 at 8:16AM
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