Merry Christmas? How do you make it through the holidays after the loss of a loved one?
This year my holiday spirit is, well less than stellar. Which does not bode well in my house since my husband is already on the naughty list for not being a fan of the holidays any year. When my cheer’o’meter is low, i can usually fill it up rather quickly. This year however, there is just nothing in the tank.
My family is dealing with loss over this holiday season. Unfortunately I have experience dealing with loss at this time of year. This will be my eighteenth Christmas without my older brother. I remember quite vividly how hard the first few were, Christmas was his favourite time of year. If ugly sweater parties were a “thing” when he was alive, he would of been the life of the party. He always was the life of the party.
It never gets any easier, it just gets different.
A few short months ago I lost my brother-in-law suddenly to brain cancer. By sudden I mean he was diagnosed on a Sunday and passed away the following Monday. No signs, no symptoms, no cure. He was 47 years old, husband, son, brother, father of two and my husbands only sibling. It was to state it mildly, devastating. Losing a sibling is not something I want to have in common with anyone.
At the time of my brothers death I had no children, I found out I was pregnant with my first child two weeks after his passing. This time there are teenagers and young children involved. Which means questions and a whole lot of them. In this time of “Festive Fun” there is also G.U.I.L.T, a whole lot of it.
“How can I smile when I just lost my dad?”
“How can I be happy when my brother can’t be here?”
“I can’t go to the Christmas party, I will bring everybody down.”
“Because Uncle Dave is in heaven does he know what Santa is bringing me for Christmas?”
Like I said, a whole lot of questions.
I am not a physiologist or expert in this field. I didn’t even really want to write this article. After all I am the “fun girl” and let’s face it, there is nothing fun about this. But it IS important, it’s important to share and know that you are not alone.
I turned to the only expert I know…GOOGLE… I read through a bunch of articles, tips, strategies and how t.o.’s. I then thought about how I have managed the holidays all these years with the feeling of loss, of something just not being quite right.
In my VERY UN-expert opinion. Here are my thoughts on how to get through the Holidays after a loss.
CRY …Cry whenever and wherever the hell you want. There is no RIGHT or WRONG way to grieve, EVER. I remember bawling, openly, at the diner scene in Christmas Vacation. Sobbing when the turkey exploded open because it was always a favourite movie of my brothers.
GIVE BACK… I think this is my favourite tip. GIVING truly heals, it will not only help heal you but it will help heal those you are giving too. If you don’t have time to volunteer, pay for someones order in the drive-through. Carry someones packages to their car. Let someone ahead of you in line. There are SO many ways to give on a daily basis…Do it all year round you won’t regret it.
BE SELFISH… I know…Kind of doesn’t quite work with tip #2. What I mean here is, take care of yourself. Get lot’s of rest, don’t try and do everything. This is a time when you really need to lean on these who love you. If the offer…TAKE IT!
Don’t SKIP it …This is important especially if you have young children involved. If there was something you did at the holidays when the person you lost was alive, STILL do it. They would want you to. It is also important to teach the kids that all the good things about that person did not die with them.
BE HONEST ..with yourself and others. There is no need to fake it here. You and others in your family are broken. There is a HUGE piece of what you knew to be so…gone. If you don’t feel like doing something, then don’t. But be sure to tell those around you why. Don’t keep it all in, let people in. If it happens to be the cashier at the grocery store who notices you openly sobbing as you pack your bags…then so be it.
The ultimate goal here is not to put on a “Brave Face” for everyone else. It is about spending the time with those you love and healing together. It’s ok to laugh, cry and get angry. You don’t HAVE to listen to carols or deck the halls. You DO however have to get up every day and participate in life. It just so happens that life around this time of year, is supposed to be a little more J.O.L.LY. If you can’t find the jolly, no worries…Start with the J…in time the rest of the letters will come.
Wishing you and yours a wonderful and J. holiday season.
I love all the holidays. I am a sucker for food, family, costumes, decorating: anything that has a party vibe. However, the Christmas holidays are by far my favourite. It may have something to do with growing up with the ‘Griswolds’. My parents would decorate the house from top to bottom, inside and out. There would be an EPIC back yard hockey game. My mother and my grandmother would bake enough Christmas cookies to feed a small city, or two. In all this ‘It’s a Wonderful Life-isms’, by far my favourite is the tradition of my parents hosting the neighbourhood open house every Christmas Eve…I LOVED IT! My parents had the cheesy fake wood veneer bar in the burgundy carpet-adorned basement. My dad would mix drinks and spin the 8 tracks. That was until I became a bartender and the cheesy bar became all mine. All in all, the holidays growing up for me were all about us kids.
It is not surprising that all my family’s traditions are the ones I grew up with.
I love my home and I so look forward to dressing it up for the holidays. I just can’t wait until Halloween and Thanksgiving are over so I can get into the basement and dust off the Christmas decorations. Finding a home for all the sparkle and family treasures, it is like my own special Christmas morning.
The cookie baking tradition is by far my favourite, although it means a lot of mess. As messy as this tradition is, my controlling, neat-freak OCD side goes nuts. Two of my four children have November birthdays so ‘Christmas Cookie Baking Parties’ have always been a staple in our home. Sprinkles, icing and flour OH MY! All worth it to see the sticky finger licking kids, covered in flour and green sprinkles smiling and laughing while learning in the kitchen. This tradition encompasses so many amazing things I would never trade it for a perfectly clean house. And the best part of all is the amazing smell of cookies baking! I love how just the familiar scent of holiday cookies in the oven can instantly make me feel like I’m right back there in my childhood home, helping my mom and grandma bake dozens upon dozens of cookies.
Following in my father’s footsteps, my husband and I have always opened our home every Christmas Eve to our family and neighbours. On a ‘pop-in-if-you-can’ type of invite, it is always an amazing night. I love to have fun with it and do a ‘naughty and nice list’ table cloth; it’s a simple and very inexpensive way of making your guests feel special and adding whimsy to your party. This night is full of joy, sharing, anticipation and the best part – it ends early. People start coming by around 4:00 and all are gone by around 9 to get ready for the big guys’ appearance. I have met so many amazing people because of this tradition. There is something very special about sharing your home with friends and strangers alike.
Finally, the season really is all about the kids. We all know the kids love the ‘Big Guy’ so why not make him the star of your party? Every Christmas Eve my computer transforms into the NORAD Santa Tracker and it is a HUGE hit with the kids. They love to check in and see where he is delivering his toys, watch the videos and see how long before he works his way into our time zone. This way all the kids can scurry home, leave out their cookies and carrots, and make sure all the Elves are nestled in their beds. On Christmas morning my favourite tradition is the single mandarin orange in the toe of each stocking. The smell takes me back to my childhood and brings back so many wonderful holiday memories.
Regardless of how you celebrate the holidays or what holidays you celebrate, the most important thing is to surround yourself with those who matter. That is truly the greatest gift.
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” I don’t end friendships over difference of opinion though.”…
“I would hope that you wouldn’t, I don’t either. The world would be a very lonely place if we did that.”…
This is a snippet from some comments I received the other day and it got me thinking…
When the CBC fired JG…MANY people I knew jumped to his defense. Bashing the CBC, criticizing them for judging his bedroom habits and vowing to vindicate him. And why wouldn’t they? The CBC did fire him for what seemed, at the time because he liked rough sex. There was no other information expect a story of he said she said from the media. People simply had an opinion…people responded in the heat of the moment…I know this one all to well…
After the rest of the started coming out and is still coming out, I saw retraction after retraction. “I am sorry for what I said” … “I apologize for my comments”…
If someone did something horrible to a friend or someone I respected, damn certain I would just to their defense in a heart beat not know all the facts. I would hope there are people in my life that would do the same for me. And if it came out after that they were a violent cowardly douche…I would be so sad.
However I certainly hope people wouldn’t judge me or unfriend me because I was defending a friend at the time. But this is exactly what I saw happen…People ending friendships over a difference of opinion, a split second opinion coming from a place of almost protection for someone you admire or care for. If you still support the coward now then we definitely can’t be friends…
But now..after seeing all this unfold…
Would you still defend someone? Someone you are friends with or admire? Will you wait for all the facts? Does it depend on what they have done? Are we now so afraid of what others will think we can no longer freely express an opinion…? Or do we have to sensor ourselves to ensure our opinion is crafted carefully as not to offend? OMG what if someone doesn’t like me?
Is it all in HOW we say it rather than what we say now?
Cat pictures and video makes me want to chew glass… I have now possible offended the over 200 MILLION people who have viewed the videos. What about…Cat pictures and videos are really not my favorite thing to watch.Sounds much better…but it’s not what I wanted to express…I want to express that I would rather have glass shards embedded in my tongue that watch a cat video. Just my opinion.
The same can be said for Starbucks cup pictures and daily selfies (except for 365feminism that shit has a point other than your perfect duck face). All glass chewing worthy events, in my opinion.
I know the same thing can and is said about things I post..People HATE food pictures..I adore them. To many shoe porn is an utter waste of space, to me it puts me in my happy place. We ALL have different opinions.
The internet is filled with anonymous trolls some anonymous and some not and someone will always try and get your back up…I get that and it will never change.
It just seems to me that we are now editing ourselves before we even put pen to paper…We are thinking about what the comments “might be” before we even know what we want to write…We craft our comments and replies like well oiled PR machines as no to offend…Why would I be offended if you post a honest comment about your opinion? Why would I be offended if you are offering me insight to something I may not know? I could actually learn something.
“I would love to leave a comment and tell you how I really feel but I am afraid someone will screen shot it and use it against me.”
REALLY? This is the evolution of having on online voice…
HAVE A VOICE
USE YOUR VOICE
BE YOUR AUTHENTIC SELF
“I am sorry but I have to disagree..”
Quite possibly my least favorite thing I read in blog post comments…Why are you sorry you disagree? Are you just a polite Canadian? Why are we all sorry for having an opinion? Is there a”list’ now days for people with opinions? You know how much I love getting on Lists!
Is there a way to write what the hell you want to write anymore? Are we all now Bubble Wrapped Bloggers? Editing ourselves with everything we post on line because we care so much about what people (many who we will never know or meet) think about us?
It seems on line reading has become more about , who said what in the comments, than what was actually said in the article.
But seriously…who even reads or comments on blogs anymore…………………