Proactive Steps to help get you through the holidays
Last week I talked about the holiday season and widowhood:
- About the widower who says with tears in his eyes, “Christmas was always her thing”.
- About the grieving widow who tells me “he was such a big part of our family’s Hanukkah traditions”.
Depending on how long it’s been since your spouse passed away, your feelings are possibly still pretty raw. Especially in that first year when you’re probably in a fog. Perhaps the “first” holiday season is the most overwhelming, but I found I was still floundering on my second and third.
Not feeling sad around the holidays might not be an option for you. However, not feeling sad every minute of every day might be an option.
Some wisdom I learned along the way… if something funny happens (especially some of the black humor that comes with widowhood), go ahead of laugh. It’s not disrespectful, and it can be good for your soul.
If you momentarily forget your spouse is gone because your child or grandchild does something so cute, that’s okay and normal. And then, if your feelings of sadness come slamming back because you wish your spouse was here to see that cute thing they did, that’s normal too.
Some people opt to keep their traditions going as always (and to talk and cry through the memories).
Others find that’s just too hard, and want to do something completely different. Here are things I found worked for me over the years.
- Plan to go to someone else’s home, perhaps a very close friend or family member. Pick someone who you know will be okay with you talking and crying and laughing (sometimes all at the same time) about how you’re feeling.
- Go out to dinner. It’s important to pick a restaurant where nothing will remind you of past holidays and other memories.
- Contact a local retirement home or assisted living facility. Ask them if you can volunteer there. Giving to others can sometimes make our own hearts feel a little less heavy. You will also understand their pain if they too have lost a spouse.
- Go on a trip locally or far away (once again pick a place that won’t remind you of past holidays). Staying at a hotel can give you a way of not feeling like you’re trying to have or not have your normal traditions at your house.
And to restate my advice from last week: “Just feel what you feel when you feel it.” Those huge waves of feeling that crash over you won’t last forever (they only feel that way).
I’m interested in hearing about your experiences as you go through the holidays this year. Send me an email.