Last year at this time my husband and I were traveling to Kansas to spend the Christmas holidays with my mom, stepdad, sister, brother and many other family members. For many years I wasn’t able to spend the holiday with them because my ex-husband and I shared the kids and I didn’t want to miss a single Christmas with them. Now they are grown and live elsewhere so we were free to split out holidays between parents.
Other than taking a long detour to avoid a winter storm the trip (and holidays) was uneventful. No one knew it was my mother’s last Christmas.
Holiday Grief Triggers
As we navigate the first holiday season without her, I’m finding there are many triggers that bring waves of emotion. Just when you think the journey is getting easier it gets much harder.
Whether it’s traditions, the holiday table seating or exchanging gifts these holiday activities may accentuate that a loved one is not present. For me it was the things I wasn’t doing for my mom such as sending a card and buying gifts. There’s also sadness that it means I won’t ever receive a gift from her again.
It’s just as hard for my sisters, brother and stepdad but we’re all finding ways to navigate the season.
I’ve accepted that I’m going to be blue at times and it’s okay to cry. I’m also focused on the fact that is most likely my father-in-law’s last Christmas (he’s on hospice care) and doing what I can to make it wonderful for him.
My sister took on the role of distributing gifts my mother had already bought for family members but not given out. My son was surprised and happy to get one last gift from Grandma.
My stepfather took a trip to spend the holidays with his children. We all know it’s not going to be the same.
This Christmas will be the the hardest as our loss is still fresh. I know that next year will be happier as we celebrate with three new grandchildren in the family. Life will go on and that’s really what Christmas is all about; the promise of life.
Sorry for your loss, I know it’s especially hard at Christmas. Last Christmas was our first without my hubby’s grandmother (who he was closer to than his own mom, our daughter is named after her) we missed her dearly but this year was a little bit easier- we had a little bit of a new routine and everyone chipped in to make sure grandad was taken care of. Hope this year brings some serenity for you.
Sorry for your loss. I am glad that you are giving yourself permission to just cry sometimes.
We lost my brother on October 16, 2007, and that first Thanksgiving was the hardest one. I don’t have any memories of that holiday except looking at my mom across the table and both of us trying so hard to hold back tears while everyone else ate.
Michael @ So You Think You Can Save says
This is a tough year for my wife’s side of the family as there are a couple of people with various illnesses, plus some family drama. Right now it’s not bringing the family together at all, which is sad, but I guess that’s what happens in some circumstances.
John S @ Frugal Rules says
Sorry about your loss Kay. I can relate to a certain extent as we lost a child two weeks before Thanksgiving four years ago. It can be a particularly tough time, and it still is. However, we find that focusing on all that we have is key to what brings us through the grief. I wish you peace through Christmas and the New Year & congrats on the upcoming grandchildren!
Paul @ The Frugal Toad says
Sorry about your loss Kay. The holidays can be a tough time after the loss of a loved one. Hope the new year brings you peace!
Michelle @ See Debt Run says
It is absolutely okay to cry. I’m one of those super emotional people, but it always makes me feel better if I talk about things, write about it, and just have a good cry. In fact, it’s good for you to grieve that way rather than bottling it up. I believe that when you have a deep connection with someone, they never fully leave you. I hope you and yours have a very Merry Christmas, Kay Lynn!