First Christmas As a Widow

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.

9 Responses

  1. Sherry
    | Reply

    this is the first christmas without my love and I am just feeling devastated. I am crying more and more each day. i tell myself to enjoy the holidays as christmas is my favorite time of year. i played the drummer boy (my favorite) and it made me cry so hard I went to bed with a blocked nose and tears streaming down my face. my sister will be coming to visit me (she is nj and I am fl) so hopefully she is able to life some of my painful burden; however I told her not to be upset at me if I do alot of crying that day. it was dec 22 he went into icu and jan 2 that he passed; however he did open his gifts christmas morning in his hospital bed.

    • Julie
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      Last year my husband passed away suddenly in September. That was the first Christmas, but it was such a blur with all the things that needed to be taken care of that I was just a zombie. This year is already harder because my mother just passed away. One day at a time, and I don’t listen to family and friends trying to tell me how to run my life. Doing Christmas shopping I see things he would have liked, but I just try to avoid those areas of the store now. My stepdaughter and her family (I never had any children) are moving away on the 20th of this month. That’s adding to my sadness this year, and I always get weepy remembering the anniversary of the day my dad was buried….Christmas Eve. I just get busy reading and try to do my shopping online. Hang in there, Sherry, we’re feeling alone, but I have friends who have already been where I am and they’ve truly been a gift from God! Merry Christmas!

      • Sherry
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        Merry Christmas Julie! Thank you for the much needed support. I have been doing a lot more reading and exercise.

  2. Jane Bradley
    | Reply

    Thank you very much for this post.It reassures me that what I’m feeling is OK.

  3. Lorie DeWitt-Antilla
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    This is my 2nd Christmas without my husband. Last year my family forced me into hosting Christmas Day and dinner and brunch. I think it was a good way for them to feel they were helping me through it and maybe it was. I was forced to decorate the house and to not brood. This year I am not hosting, nor am I decorating, shopping or baking. I am working at the Post Office so there is no time to brood as the days are long and filled with packages that need delivering. I remember every day Our past Christmas as my husband really like to celebrate. I can’t do that, it is more “what is the point”. Maybe one day… maybe next year.. just get thru it.

    • Mary Francis
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      Dear Lorie – Sometimes all we can do is just get through it as best as we can. Hold on and sometime in the future you will be ready to do more. For now set back and let the holidays go by – your broken heart still needs time to heal. Take care, Mary Francis

  4. Patricia Foreman
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    This is my third year without my husband for Christmas. I decided not to spend the holidays with family as it is so difficult to be around his family without him with us. I instead spent it with good friends, best decision I could have made. It seems that the grieving doesn’t stop,
    however I have learned that I am stronger as time goes by.

  5. Lauryn McLelland
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    This was my first Christmas without my husband who died of a fast (7 weeks) and horrid fight with cancer on March 20. I am aching so much that I am numb. Yesterday my third grandchild and first grand-daughter was born and I found out that my dear brother-in-law has colon cancer. This news on top of being in COVID lockdown is challenging my strength. I can’t stop crying and am scared because I feel so numb and hopeless.

    • Mary Francis
      | Reply

      Hi Lauryn – I am sorry for your broken heart, but what a blessing to have a healthy granddaughter. My last granddaughter was born three months early at only 1.5 pounds. It was a wake up call for me about what mattered going forward. It is bad news about your brother in-law, but I feel that you will be there to support his wife. You may think that you are numb and hopeless but you are not. You are crying and scared, and that means you are feeling. You are reaching out for support and that is proof that you are not hopeless. It’s okay to grieve, it is normal and healthy to do so. Take care and be safe. Mary Francis

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