After the death of your husband, no one holiday is more difficult to endure than your first Christmas. Part of the reason is that Christmas is not just one day, it’s a “season” – from Thanksgiving on.
It seems that everyone around us is in the holiday spirit, buying gifts, decorating their homes, baking secret family recipes and having fun. While there you are, participating in body, but your spirit just isn’t into it.
I know what it’s like for your heart to ache for your loved one. Yes, you try very hard to get into the Christmas spirit… to feel happy, but you’re not fooling anyone.
The truth is that Christmas is painful, lonely and sad, and it doesn’t matter how many people you surround yourself with.
I want you to know you are allowed to feel whatever your feeling – sad, broken, unfocused, jealous of others, loneliness, despair, anger, bitterness and the list goes on. I’ve been in your shoes and it’s just miserable. Don’t mask your feelings with “I’m okay”. Talk and share your memories of past Christmases. Start by saying, “Do your remember when….” and share your memory.
Do you wonder what the grieving protocol is during Christmas Day? Well, whatever others imagine it should be, it’s not up to you to fill their expectations.
Sharing memories will deal with the elephant in the room so that others can laugh at the stories, add to them, even cry, but it doesn’t matter because it will stop the awkward silences and everyone walking on eggshells.
So, if this is your first, second or third Christmas down this grief journey, don’t be too concerned about “doing it correctly”, because nobody really knows what the “correct” way is.
Have enough guts to share your memories and don’t hide your emotions from anyone, including yourself. There is no magical way to cope with your pain so be gentle and patient with yourself.
There are no “should” anymore. Do what makes you feel comfortable and don’t feel guilty. You are doing what you need to do to cope with this intense holiday and the emotions it brings up.
Also, don’t be surprised if there are brief moments where you do find yourself smiling or laughing, especially if there are children around – please don’t feel guilty about it. You are entitled to whatever joy you can find.