Acknowledge Our Loss

Holidays can arouse grief as well as joy. The season will be much more fulfilling if you can find a place for both your grief and the joy of the season.

Life goes on they say, but how can it, how dare it without our loved one?

Are love and grief forever linked? Life is full of wonder and sadness, pleasure and pain, birth and death, darkness and lightness. We laugh at weddings and weep at funerals. In the end there is a time to dance and a time to cry. Unfortunately our culture values fun and has little time for grieving.

Sadly we are better at taking drugs for our pain than facing death and grief. Better at wearing our “mask” than giving an honest answer to the question, “How are you really doing?”

Though it’s easier to talk about almost anything than the dead, the dead are what mourners most need to talk about – especially jurying this festive season. Therefore please do not shy away from sharing your memories.

Don’t try to get through the holidays by behaving as if nothing has happened. Instead acknowledge the loss, the grief and the missing space at the table. If somebody is not at the table who was there last year, it is a wonderful time for everyone to take a moment to talk about their memories and recall what they miss and what they loved about that person. Everyone is already thinking about that person so it’s better to just speak our feelings out loud.

Pretending that everything is fine when everything isn’t just adds to the stress everyone is feeling. The only way to survive the holiday season after the death of a loved one is to make time for memories. Say their names out loud, tell and retell the same old stories, tales of love, laughter, what was most memorable and what we miss the most.

Stories are the fabric that weaves our families together. Storytelling can be done naturally when sitting around the table or relaxing by the fire. Or it can be more formal by each family member writing out a story about the person they had lost and then creating a memory book. Life does go on but let’s take a portion of the past with us, hold onto it so we can pass it on. Sometimes we will cry, sometimes we will laugh – both are gifts of healing.

12 Responses

  1. Jan Christian
    | Reply

    Thank you for posting this. I dread going through the first holidays without my husband

  2. Denise Moore
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    definately going to try this, tired of saying Im ok

  3. Resa S
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    My husband died suddenly in Oct 15th. I worked on him until the ambulance arrived but he was gone in the blink of an eye. He was relatively healthy and I’m still waiting for the coroner’s report to find out what happened. I dread the holidays. But I have great friends and family. We are all on a journey we didn’t ask to experience. Thank you -there doesn’t seem to be many resources for younger widows.

    • Mary Francis
      | Reply

      I’m so sorry Resa that you had to go through that. It is understandable that the holidays will be hard for you. Please check on the resources on the website and blog postings for tips and advice that may help you on your journey.

      Take care of yourself. Mary Francis

      • Resa Savulis
        | Reply

        I will do that Mary Francis. Thank you for your concern.

  4. Lovey
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    I lost my beloved husband July 18, 2016. Just passed the 4 month mark of when my happy world of being his wife ended. He was the love of my life, and my soul mate. We were together 34 years, would have been married 30 years January 1st in 2017. Even though he had health issues, COPD mainly, he passed from septic shock brought on by diverticulitis. It was sudden, and totally unexpected. He was gone in a little over 24 hours. He was a “young & hip” 70 years old. I am still in shock that he is now gone. He was funny, intelligent, compassionate, so loving & affectionate and treated me like his queen, and we loved each other with all of our hearts. I just stumble around my house – wondering WHAT HAPPENED to the man I loved & adored & our life together??? even though I do know what happened physically – I had an autopsy done – my life is upside down, and it seems like I am going thru those 5 stages of grief everyday – all day long. Anger is what’s poking it’s ugly head up now – especially with the holidays coming up, and couples & families all planning their festivities. No children to celebrate with – only my 4 dogs. If it weren’t for them – I don’t know what I’d do. I couldn’t ever think of loving again – I’m too old anyway, but I miss him so much – I don’t know if I can go on. I try to stay active in church & with my lady friends, but my heart is road kill.
    I am even angry @ God for allowing this, but I also realize He is my only hope. I cannot go down to his “man cave”, our rec room, without sorrow – where we spent our last hour together before I had to rush him to the hospital because of his severe pain – the sepsis was starting, but we had no idea what was happening to him. It all happened so fast, and the ED just kept pumping him full of pain meds – finally in the middle of the night – they figured out he was septic, but it was too late – he went into multi organ failure.

    Praying for all of us, who are on this lonely road together, a journey none of us wanted – but were forced into. We are not alone, even though our empty homes & hearts tell us otherwise .

    • Mary Francis
      | Reply

      Lovey – I’m sorry to hear about the loss of your husband. It doesn’t matter how long we have them, we always want more and why shouldn’t we. I know that God understands our anger and He can handle it 🙂 The holidays are hard when we are grieving and we have to acknowledge our pain so that we can heal. I have lots of free resources on the website plus more coming under the “Just for You” section in the next week so watch out for them.

      Take care of yourself because you matter. Mary Francis

  5. Lovey
    | Reply

    Thank you Mary Francis

    I am brand new to this site, and hope that there is some light at the end of the tunnel for us widows. I never got the chance to say Good-bye to my love, as he was intubated in the middle of the night, and put under in ICU, and never regained consciousness. Then he slipped away into the arms of our Lord.

    God bless us all, and give us strength as we try to carry on in this terrible journey.

  6. Marylisë Rhoads
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    Thank you, Mary, for your gift of comfort and fellowship for widows, especially now, at holiday time. Dec. 2nd marked 2 years since my husband died of cancer. This past June, we would have celebrated 50 years of marriage, and I feel so cheated. Why can’t I be grateful for the 48 we were together? Hearing certain Christmas carols seems to make me feel worse. I try to think of the young widows who have lost their husbands to war; surely their lot is worse than mine. I did so well the last two years that even my pastor remarked on it. I’ve kept busy and helped at Blue Star Mothers and worked to support our missionary. I know better than to isolate, so I don’t; my church has several activities that I attend regularly. What I don’t understand is why his loss is hitting me so hard this year… Maybe you or others could shed some light.

    • Mary Francis
      | Reply

      Hi Marylisë Sometimes we get through the first couple of years in a bit of a daze. We can keep busy and somehow avoid our grief but it is always below the surface and has to be dealt with soon or later. I think I was in my third year before I slowed down enough for my grief to catch up to me. The thing is we need to grieve – it’s healthy and the only way to heal.

      I’m sorry that you lost your husband and in the holiday season. The first Christmas would have been completely lost to you and the second you probably kept so busy that you didn’t have time to think. Maybe this Christmas your ready to grieve and in a more healthy place to handle it.

      Although I always advise that we keep busy, there is this balance where we need to let grief have its time. Grief doesn’t have a schedule and it will turn up at all times, sometimes years later it will turn up. I’m in nine years and for some reason I’m finding the Christmas to be hard. Maybe it’s because the kids are older, I’m retiring or just that I’m getting older but I still miss Donnie at this time of the year.

      Take care of yourself and enjoy those precious moments with family and friends. Mary Francis

  7. Marylisë Rhoads
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    Oh, Mary, how well you understand! Your explanation of the first two years of mourning makes such good sense to me! I can see that balance is necessary, and now I understand why I spent the other day in frequent tears upon hearing Christmas carols. My husband always managed our house, yard, and business, while I was ignorant of all that. Now, I do have to be grateful for the fact that I have learned so much about finances, taxes, and so on, these last two years. Being a little more independent, I think you’re right that I may be in a healthier place to handle my grief. Your clear thinking is such a blessing! Getting older and retiring have their own joys, as long as you don’t retire from life! May the Lord give back to you the comfort that you so generously share with others!

    • Mary Francis
      | Reply

      Thank you Marylisë – I’ve already been blessed by your supportive comments.

      Take care of yourself, Mary Francis

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