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.