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Re: Grieving around the holidays

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Message 11 of 13

@PattyDiane wrote:

I never visualized myself as alone for the holidays, yet that is how I find myself.  The holidays used to be such a hectic time what with work and families.  Until the past 10 years my mother and both my sisters and their families all lived in the same vacinity.  I was the first to move away, but only by 75 miles so I could still get there for the celebrations.

 

Then everything changed.  One sister moved 200 miles away and her family followed.  My other sister's children were transferred to Seattle and she and her husband followed.  My mother died, as did my sister in Seattle.  I divorced and retired.  By the way, my father died of ALS on New Year's Day in 1990 and that Christmas was the most terrible one I've ever had.  I've said many times that I'm glad that New Year's Day had always been my least favorite holiday.

 

In a way it's a relief.  There was a lot of work and stress to get everything ready to make the trip for a quick dinner and gift exchange when the days are so short.  There was no time for a real visit with anyone and I always had a post-Christmas let-down and depression.  I hated taking down all the decorations and putting them away.  

 

A couple of years I tried joining a friend with their family celebration, but somehow that made me feel worse and miss my own traditions even more.


Thank you for this. 

 

What strikes me most is the feeling of being even more alone when being a 'guest.' No matter how welcoming the friend and their family, they don't know you very well, and there is a huge amount of 'inside joke' that you will never get. I truly hate that feeling. I hate being a guest.

 

So how do you make new traditions?

What kind of community is there around you?

 

I'm divorced, and on the Christmases where the kids are with their father, (they're grown now), i go to my own church for Christmas eve service (one of my favorites with all the candle light), and then out to a movie on Christmas day, sometimes by myself. I'm transported to another place and time for 2 hours. Feels like a treat. Unless it's a sad movie! Well, i still appreciate the 'trip.'

 

jane

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Re: Grieving around the holidays

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Message 12 of 13

I never visualized myself as alone for the holidays, yet that is how I find myself.  The holidays used to be such a hectic time what with work and families.  Until the past 10 years my mother and both my sisters and their families all lived in the same vacinity.  I was the first to move away, but only by 75 miles so I could still get there for the celebrations.

 

Then everything changed.  One sister moved 200 miles away and her family followed.  My other sister's children were transferred to Seattle and she and her husband followed.  My mother died, as did my sister in Seattle.  I divorced and retired.  By the way, my father died of ALS on New Year's Day in 1990 and that Christmas was the most terrible one I've ever had.  I've said many times that I'm glad that New Year's Day had always been my least favorite holiday.

 

In a way it's a relief.  There was a lot of work and stress to get everything ready to make the trip for a quick dinner and gift exchange when the days are so short.  There was no time for a real visit with anyone and I always had a post-Christmas let-down and depression.  I hated taking down all the decorations and putting them away.  

 

A couple of years I tried joining a friend with their family celebration, but somehow that made me feel worse and miss my own traditions even more.

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Grieving around the holidays

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Message 13 of 13

Hey Folks, 'Tis the season.... for lots of sad feelings to get stirred up by old painful memories, by losses both long ago and very recent, and by the expectations of the commercialized holiday music/parties/celebrations that make our own experiences seem so paltry, almost pathetic.

 

At least that's how i feel sometimes around the Thanksgiving through New Years onslaught.

 

My father died on 12/23/2006, and i found myself being so grateful that he didn't die on Christmas Eve or Christmas Day. It was painful enough already. The first Christmas after my mother passed, now 20 years ago, was surreal. She was a difficult woman, but she was still my mother, and it was odd, and sad. 

 

I was also the caregiver, along with my mom and sister, for my grandmother years before, and i was the one on night duty when she died. 

 

We all experience grief and loss throughout our lives. Most of us have federal holidays off whether we celebrate the holidays or not. (Love the Chinese Food + Movie tradition of some American Jews. Have adopted it myself when i don't have the kids for Christmas.)  I still feel guilty about her death, because it came shortly after my mother announced it was time for the nursing home. She gave up and died. Even though i was a teenager and in no way responsible, i feel guilty.

 

Anyway, are any of you, dear readers, heading into the days-off period around Christmas, with a heavy heart?  What makes it heavy? What lightens the load?  I'd love to hear your stories. Communities like this are so rich with experience and wisdom. As well as pain, which is halved when shared.

 

Thank you,

Jane

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