Celebrating The Holidays And Grief
The whole first year after the death of a loved one is very strange.
Every day is a first. Every month is a first. More importantly, every holiday is a first without the cherished person you loved so much. As we get close to Christmas, I decided to personalize this article by referring to my own journey after losing my wife to cancer two years ago. It was the beginning of October so I didn’t have much time before I had to deal with the holidays. Thanksgiving came very quickly and I went to my daughter’s turkey dinner. One of my granddaughters is named after my wife and it is difficult but a special gift to say her name. A photo album of my grandson’s wedding pictures from June was being shared. I had to choke back sobs as I viewed the last pictures taken of my wife amid the happy surroundings of the wedding. I kept excusing myself to be alone to try and hold off tears. Somehow we made it through dinner and I left early to get back home under the excuse of having to go to work the next day.
The next Holiday was Christmas and I had to try and keep things a little normal for my three children and eight grandchildren. I decided to take a road trip to St. Louis to visit my oldest son and four grandchildren. That way I wouldn’t have to decorate the house with a tree or lights or anything. However, I did want to send Christmas cards especially to thank family and friends who had been calling and making sure I was all right. I never could have realized how hard it was going to be to come across the addresses of friends far away who didn’t know of my wife’s passing. There were only about ten of them but to write of your loss over and over was one of the hardest things I’ve had to do.
The road trip was an excuse to be by myself for the fourteen hours out to St. Louis and the fourteen hours back. I arrived late Christmas Eve and left the morning after Christmas. My youngest son made it from Denver and we all spent Christmas together riding an emotional roller coaster. Hugs didn’t have to have words and looks spoke volumes. We made it through the first Christmas.
I’m sharing this story because you might not know what to do or say to friends or families who have lost someone this year. That feeling is normal. Here are a few tips that might help them through the holidays:
- Let them know you are there: to listen, to help, or just drive them to church or a store.
- Ask if they want to put any decorations out and ask if they want you to help.
- Ask if they would like help addressing cards or wrapping packages.
- Ask if they would like to come to your house for a dinner.
- Ask if you could drop off a dinner during the holidays.
- Call, stop by, and ask. Make sure they know they don’t have to be alone.
I am lucky. I have my wonderful children and beautiful grandchildren and 34 years of memories. The Holidays are never going to be easy but time really does have a way of softening the edges.
Happy Holidays and remember to Be Happy and Live Life with Love.
William E. King is a funeral director at Spicer-Mullikin Funeral Homes. Bill is the Advanced Planning Manager and has 20 years of experience in the funeral industry. He received a BA from Loyola College Baltimore and later a Mortuary Science degree from the Community College of Baltimore County, Catonsville.
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