It's Beginning to Look a lot like Christmas - Finally

This is my third Christmas without Mike.  The first year, Christmas came along 6 weeks after he died and in many ways this was a blessing because I was in so much shock that nothing really phased me.  I have almost no recollection of that first Christmas.  And, I think this is the way it is supposed to be.  I know that I cooked a complete turkey dinner, but I don't remember who sat around my table.  I can't recall a single conversation.  Not one.  I don't even know if I ate dinner. 

When I think back to that first Christmas, I can not close my eyes and envision my sons openning their gifts.  But, I know that they had gifts.  I just have no idea what they were.  And, I do not remember shopping for their gifts. Maybe I bought them online.  I don't know.  I just can't remember. (There is a theme here.)

I know that I got my tree up that first year. But, I have no idea if I was helped doing this or not.  I think I actually put up two tress, but I can't be sure.  Like so many things over the last 25 months, I wish I could talk to Mike about all this.  But, when your person dies you lose part of your shared history. *Sigh.

Now, without Mike, I have to rely soley on my memories of the past.  The person who shared some of the best moments of my life is dead; and without him,  I am not able to confirm or deny events of our past.  This is a huge loss, something I had yet to comprehend that first year without him.

Beyond dinner and having a tree or two decorated I really can't remember anything about that first Christmas at all.  Looking back, part of my lack of memory is likely due to my white wine intake. That first holiday as a widow Riesling was regularly coursing through my viens.  I was in survival mode.  No one was telling me what to do, because none of them had done this before.  My friends still had their husbands.  They had no experience to draw on. They were clueless about widowhood and so was I.  Without a manual for widowhood and with no one to mentor me, I put myself into a wine induced haze for all of December starting on my birthday which landed exactly two weeks after Mike died and one week after I stood at the cemetery and buried him.  After witnessing that horribly dramatic, sad and awful moment at the cemetry when the coffin lowered and TAPS played none of my friends were about to tell me not to have the wine.  So, it was definitely a White Christmas that first year...

White wine or not, I do not remember Christmas shopping that year.  Maybe, I had the gifts finished before Mike died - who knows?  I can ask him, but since he's died I can't hear him the way I used to.  Two years into this widow thing, I am tired of our one sided conversations.  I am tired of the silence.  I just want to have him here with me.  I want so very much to share my life with him.  But, this can never be.  Now, I have cognitively accepted that the life we shared is over.  However,  two years later, I am still working on "accepting" Mike's permanent absence in my heart.  This remains a work in progress.    

Last year marked my second Christmas as a widow.  In truth it felt like my first because I really didn't feel anything that first year.  Before the second Christmas, I started dreading Christmas in July which gave a whole new cruddy meaning to "Christmas in July".  I remember I felt anxious about being without Mike over the holidlays.  I knew that there would be a hollowness to the entire holiday season for me and the topper would be Christmas Day.  I felt like my family holidays were incomplete without him. 

That second Christmas wasn't the best; and, in truth, I barely recall it.  I just remember feeling empty.  This third year, Mike's absence remains very obvious to me, but this Christmas season has been noticably less awful for me than the first two.  It is finally beginning to feel a bit "okay".

I know that Mike is "with" me and I believe that he is around me - especially during the holidays.  But, I crave his physical presence.  Through all this, I have continued to talk to Mike and I know that he can "hear" me, but it's just not the same because I do not hear him the way I used to.  I miss him.  And, I miss him even more during the Christmas season that draws special attention to those we Love and gathering as a Family.  The Christmas Season loudly pronounces what I have lost. 

This third Christmas I am much more aware of everything.  I notice that I feel very different than those I am surrounded by.  I feel like an outsider who is witnessing a holiday that is best celebrated as a family.  I feel displaced in all this.  And, I feel badly for my sons.  A middle-aged Mom without a husband isn't really what one thinks of when they think of a traditional family.  In nearly all the classic Christmas movies there is a husband and a wife and an assortment of children.  We are not this family.  It is just the three of us.  Without a man I feel out of place.  There, I  f@cking said it.  I want to be a strong, independent widow, but I'm not.  I miss being someone's "Wife".  I was good at it.  And, I am only average at being a widow. 

Widowing is lonely.  It is not easy.  And, it can be especially awful during the holidays.  There is no way around this.  I think acknowleding the terrible loneliness helps.  At this point, I am beyond sugar coating any of this.  I think it is best to honor our grief and the emotions we feel.  I suggest that you allow yourself to feel the sharpness of the pain, all the while keeping Hope in your heart. With intention, and hard work, it is possible to live a life that is full - I KNOW this.  It is possible to feel Joy and Love again if you choose to.  The future will not be the one you imagined with your spouse, but it can still be something good.

For me, this Christmas, and always, I choose to focus on the LOVE and not the loss.  This makes all the difference for me.  

Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah and all the Best to you in the New Year.

 

~Staci

 


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  • Staci Sulin
    published this page in Blog 2019-01-03 20:48:40 -0800
  • Staci Sulin
    commented 2019-01-02 12:01:14 -0800 · Flag
    Vartan,
    Stay the course and follow your heart. This is not an easy transition as you are discovering. Some of my older blogs will likely resonate with you because I wrote them during the early days of grief. Grief is fluid, thankfully it changes with time. Best to you as you navigate widowhood. ~S.
  • Staci Sulin
    commented 2019-01-02 11:58:45 -0800 · Flag
    Cortney, I agree none of this is easy. I wish it was different. Find your tribe of helpers. Having people in your life who understand your feelings and validate your thoughts makes a huge difference. Maybe being here helps. I know writing my blog and having my FB group has helped me enormously. I know that connecting with other widowed people has allowed me to survive Mike’s death with more grace. Best to you. ~S.
  • Staci Sulin
    commented 2019-01-02 11:54:57 -0800 · Flag
    Cari, thank you for sharing your thoughts. What you want is what is important. If you wish to feel joy and love again, then seek it. LOVE and JOY are two of the best things in life. I want both of these things again too. Set the intention and brace yourself, good things will come. #joyseeker
    Best to you and to us all. ~S
  • Staci Sulin
    commented 2019-01-02 11:50:53 -0800 · Flag
    Marissa thank you for your note. Keep focusing on the LOVE.
    ~S.
  • Vartan Agnerian
    commented 2018-12-29 17:51:58 -0800 · Flag
    Dearest Staci’ … 3 months into widowhood’ after 44 years of a very traditional’ that old days gone by type ‘romantic marriage , based on respect’ honour and those love gazes , you so well describe in another of your blogs’ …. so every article of yours has something so true to my heart …. married friends and cousins being clueless about being widowed and not being a pair anymore… the wine induced haze … no more shared history … permanent absence of your beloved … This is a tough transition indeed …. – Laura – ….
  • Cortney Holles
    commented 2018-12-27 20:44:03 -0800 · Flag
    Losing the shared history and having noone to ask for clarification has been really getting to me lately. And attending a big holiday dinner with my married couple friends was really hard—two other single ladies there, but they are young and have never been married. Sigh.
  • Cari McCray
    commented 2018-12-24 20:21:14 -0800 · Flag
    I, too, miss being a wife. I want to feel joy and love again, but not many understand that or want that for me. If I can make it through Christmas Day, I’m going to feel like I accomplished something.
  • Marissa Hutton
    commented 2018-12-24 19:39:37 -0800 · Flag
    This resonates with me so well right now. This is my 7th Christmas without my husband (he died in June of 2012) but I think I’m just coming to terms with the fact that the future may still be something good. I do miss being a wife, too. Focusing on the love instead of the loss is helpful. Merry Christmas!