When you've lost a loved one, how do you celebrate the holidays?

posted 3 years ago in Holidays
Post # 3
Member
9533 posts
Buzzing Beekeeper
  • Wedding: August 2013

My culture doesn’t really have a mandatory mourning period, so we pretty much handle things in the same ways that we have in the past. My mom passed several years ago and I missed her a lot that first year, but I still did all the regular holidays.

Post # 4
Member
10495 posts
Sugar Beekeeper
  • Wedding: January 2011

I haven’t had to deal with this, but I know some people find solace in a Blue Christmas/longest night service.

Post # 5
Member
10219 posts
Sugar Beekeeper
  • Wedding: December 2012

I grew up in a culture that did this sort of thing to some extent…. very Victorian like.

If someone died, there was supposed to be no celebrations etc for at least a year.

In my own family we had two BIG Deaths within a relatively short period of time.

The first one was exceedingly tragic… and we upheld the 1 year rule.  Christmas in the traditional sense did not happen that year.  My family went away to a resort in a far off land to “escape” all the memories.  There was no tree.  And no gifts exchanged.  Christmas Day was pretty much like any other day.

New Years Eve the Resort had a Celebration.  We went for the Dinner portion, and as I was a young person in my late teens, my Parents let me stay on for about an hour or so… but I was most definitely back in our Hotel Condo BEFORE the stroke of midnight / fireworks etc.

The second death happened shortly after our grieving period ended for the first one.  In this case it was my Grandmother… who had lived a good long life.

We didn’t celebrate Christmas that year, and it was worse, cause it was spent at home not away.

As I was Engaged at the time… and we’d already been in a period of mourning for a year, it was agreed that my Wedding could go ahead at the 11th month mark of that mourning.

Christmas fell after that, so there was Christmas that year.  Two years without Christmas was tough.

Mourning the loss of a loved one with or without Christmas is tough if you ask me.

I remember very clearly that First Christmas after these two deaths… the Candle Light Service Christmas Eve and I was an absolute bawling mess in church.  I’ve always found Christmas to be sentimental / special… and to have wiithout being surrounded by ones you love (knowing you cannot go back in time) hurts.  Hurts bad.

So, I always feel sad when I hear of major tragedies in the Fall timeframe (September to December)… as I know how hard it can truly be face that First Christmas without a loved one.

I realize that the culture I grew up in isn’t all that common anymore… but I also understand the thinking behind it.  Sometimes it truly is easier to “pretend the day doesn’t exist” than it is to put on a happy face and try to get thru it… especially so if the loss is very recent.

Hope this helps,

 

Post # 7
Member
2076 posts
Buzzing bee
  • Wedding: July 2012

We are struggling with this right now. My little brother died in early November. I had my parents come to my house and we cooked for them. my mom just couldn’t bring herself to to it.  Completely understandable. For Christmas, it’s going to be a bit strange. We aren’t traveling back east to see DH’s family. My mom said she’d make a meal Christmas Day but she refuses to get a tree and decorate. Again, I so understand. DH and I decorated our own tree and house. 

 

Since it’s such a recent loss we all just wanted to take a quick trip to escape reality for a few days. So my DH, mom, dad and I are going to Vegas the day after christmas and coming back New Year’s Eve.  We all love Vegas and it’s the best way to block out your real life. Amazing hotel rooms, massages, spas, food, gambling.  Totally not everyday life and just what we need. 

 

I gues we may seem a little strange to some but it works for us. 

 

Post # 8
Member
10495 posts
Sugar Beekeeper
  • Wedding: January 2011

@Cynderbug:  Is that what midnight mass is for?  I’ve never been to anything actually called Mass before, other than maybe a wedding when I was little.

Post # 9
Member
2262 posts
Buzzing bee
  • Wedding: May 2007

My FIL passed away last year, the morning of Dec 24th. I have two little girls, and wanted to keep Christmas joyful for them, so DH and I tried to keep Christmas normal last year. I’m going to say that was a bad idea, we were coming from a good place but it was too much to try to mask the fact that we were grieving. 

This holiday season has been harder than I thought it would be. The holiday just does not have the same joy as it did. 

So, to answer the question, we celebrate the holidays as best we can, remembering the holidays we did get to spend with FIL and being grateful for having those precious memories. 

Post # 10
Member
10219 posts
Sugar Beekeeper
  • Wedding: December 2012

To @Cynderbug: My family is long time Canadians… but they have roots that go back to the UK, and a strong Victorian influence (the family religion is Protestant Methodist).

To @MrsPaulsBabyBallerina:  My sympathies on your recent loss.  It is great (important) that you and your Hubby will be there for your Mom & Dad at this horrific time… somehow you’ll all get thru it, but it won’t be easy !!

(( HUGS )) to you all.

Going away is not strange at all… it makes a lot of sense (see my Reply # 4 above) it will indeed help some… you can keep yourselves / minds busy with other things… Vegas certainly can deliver on that front

 

Post # 12
Member
205 posts
Helper bee
  • Wedding: June 2012

My dad died in February, anmummy mom couldn’t handle being here for christmas, so she decided to take the whole family to Mexico instead. We leave Monday. It’s going to be weird, especially as its my daughters first Christmas, but it’s what she needs to do, so…

Post # 13
Member
6964 posts
Busy Beekeeper
  • Wedding: October 2015

@Cynderbug:  it’s depended. The year my mom died it was very hard to get through the holidays but we tried to do everything like always. We didn’t decorate our house but we went to my cousin’s like we always do. Thanksgiving was really really hard. Christmas Eve was a little easier. 

When my great aunt died last year her daughter couldn’t deal with Thanksgiving, so she and her sisters took off on a mini vacation. Everyone deals with it differently. 

Post # 14
Member
10495 posts
Sugar Beekeeper
  • Wedding: January 2011

@Cynderbug:  Blue Christmas services are specifically for people who are grieving or dealing with difficult things around Christmas.

Post # 15
Member
1178 posts
Bumble bee
  • Wedding: May 2014

My FI’s family has had two deaths in the past two years. First his grandfather died a few months before Christmas. They all went down to spend Christmas with their grandmother (his wife) but they all agreed it just wasn’t the same.

This year his grandmother passed and it will be the first Christmas without her. They are embracing Christmas as a way to pay homage to their memories. They are having a huge celebration with my family and his family joining together. I’m sure there will be some difficult moments, but I’m going to try my best to keep everyone smiling. 

I’ve been doing little things for my FI all month long to start out own traditions of the holidays. 

It gets easier with time. 

 

Post # 16
Member
1287 posts
Bumble bee
  • Wedding: May 2014

@Cynderbug:  We celebrate the holidays the way our mother – whom passed away 2 years ago – would wish/want us to do.  SHE LOVED THE HOLIDAYS.  Outside lights, Christmas stuff everywhere, generosity to charities, family, friends, food and lots of gift giving.

So, we (my sisters and now my FI/myself) mimic that 100%.  Sure, it will always be hard, but it certainly would not make her happy if she knew we stopped celebrating because she was not here.  

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