Grief during the holidays

     For those of you going through a tragedy or grief of any kind.. 
This blog is for you….

The holidays can suck .. I know!! When the boys were a senior and a sophomore in high school, their dad – my husband – was killed in a motorcycle accident in our neighborhood. It happened on November 10th, fourteen years ago……What to do!?! … for Thanksgiving, his birthday (Dec. 4), Christmas, New Year’s Eve (surprisingly traumatic), New Year’s Day, my birthday (Feb. 6), and Valentine’s Day….all within 3 months after his death. Ughhhh!

Fred and I had both worked in the same school district for 28 years, so the kids and I had tons of support from our school families. We were supported and cared for by family and our everloving Torch Lake group.  BUT – how does that help the huge hole in your heart? How do I learn to help my boys grow up to be good men without their wonderful dad??

Lots of questions and, as it turns out, –really no answers! But for the intermediate, just now answers, here are some personal tips from me to you:

     Change up the holidays  -  Do something different!! A friend gave us tickets to the Lions Thanksgiving Day game, so we went, just the 3 of us – different was necessary. I took the boys up north skiing for Christmas. We had to get away from what had been our normal. It was very strange, not exactly happy, but at least together.
     Let your friends help  - We got together with our friends for any and all occasions,  cried together and laughed a lot together. We continued family vacations together with friends that have been there for us forever. But also, learn to be strong on your own.
     Take your time  - Do not let others influence you on what to do with your loved one’s stuff – clothes, papers, items of any kind. Take your time! Other people sometimes think it helps to get “reminders” out of the house. Sorry…but you need to decide that for yourself. I took well over 10 years to remove some of Fred’s clothes and actually decided this year to make quilts for the boys from their dad’s t-shirts. For me, I love him and his spirit around me constantly. Keep your mind and heart open to what works for you.
     Encourage your children - Let your kids talk often about memories of their loved one with you and those who care about them, but don’t push them. Our group continues to tell “Fred” stories, have dinners every year celebrating him, and hold him dear to our hearts.

The holidays are no longer sad – we do stay home now. We have full hearts and tons of happy memories to keep us going through changing holiday plans.  It’s all good if you embrace the joy of where you are now because of where you were then.

Peace to those of you struggling through this holiday season. Our thoughts are with you.

Happy Parenting!
D and C