Keep Them Alive at Christmas

As I sit down at my parents house in Massachusetts to write this blog, about 15 minutes before midnight, it is Christmas Eve. By the time many of you read this, it will be Christmas Day. I find it fitting that Christmas Day would fall on a Friday this year, therefore making it my day to write in the Widows Voice blog. Christmas Day, and the entire season, was always my absolute favorite time of year. That was, of course, in my "other" life. The life I had before I knew about grief and death and sudden loss. The life I had before trauma and triggers and quiet hopelessness took over my heart. That was the me that thought she knew pain, but had absolutely no idea. That was the me of yesterday. This me is a bit rougher around the edges, and somewhat wiser. This me is capable of feeling intense joy and excruciating pain in the exact same breath. This me wants to use my Christmas Day blog post, to let you share your stories. This me understands, REALLY understands, what Christmas is all about 

Four and a half years after the sudden death of my dear husband Don, I am finally in a place for the first time where I can say "Merry Christmas" to people and mean it, and when they say it to me, it feels good again, instead of like some sort of attack on my overwhelming grief and sadness. Finally.

However, this does not mean that the holidays are not very hard. They are. They always will be. Christmas will always be a time of year that brings me right back to being proposed to, being engaged, and then having a Christmas themed wedding. The traditions we had as a family don't exist anymore without Don here. And the ones we have decided to keep doing, aren't even close to the same. There is always a sadness lingering in the air for me during holidays, and yet, the joy has somehow made its way back to my life. But its different. It is very different.

So, I would like to offer up the comments section of this blog post, to anyone who is reading this for whatever reason, and who is missing someone on this holiday, to say their name and tell us a bit of their story. Not their death story - their life. Who do you miss this Christmas, and what traditions or moments or memories come to mind when you think of that person on this day? When we give ourselves a safe space to talk about our people who died, it helps to keep them alive within us, and it also helps to let the new joy in. I'll go first ...

This Christmas and every Christmas, I miss my husband, who found incredible joy in watching how excited I got during this time of year. I miss "our" special Christmas Tree at Rockefeller Center, and going there with him to re-live the epic marriage proposal he gave me. I will miss drinking peppermint hot chocolate with marshmallows with him, and I will miss finding awesome gifts to buy for him that made him so happy, like the time I bought him an electric guitar that he saw in my cousin's music store, and he said over and over again: "Who has a better wife than me? Nobody." I will miss waking up Christmas morning and having fried dough with my family, and doing scratch off lottery tickets and opening stocking gifts at the breakfast table. I will miss the cute way my husband used to wrap my gifts and put swirly ribbon on them. Most of all, I will miss knowing that after all the company and all the family has gone home to each other, I will be home with the person I chose to spend my life with. Most of all and always, I will miss knowing that each second I am with him, I am truly "home."

Merry Christmas everyone. And if you are struggling, and you dont particularly want to hear Merry Christmas right now, then just know that A: THAT IS OKAY, and B: I am sending you every ounce of my love, and the hope that one day in the future, you will hear the words Merry Christmas again, and it will fill you with new joy.

I wish you all the new joys of tomorrow, and the beautiful honored moments of yesterday, combined with living each and every precious second of today. Special love going out to my widowed family - as always, you are the family that I gained, when the family that I knew, was suddenly gone. I love you all. 

I would be honored to hear about the people that you love, and what you cherish and remember about them this holiday. 

Showing 11 reactions

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  • Penny Sharman
    commented 2015-12-28 08:50:52 -0800
    This was my second Christmas without my husband Gary. What do I miss most about him at Christmas time? I miss his company the most. As the years went by, we changed a lot of our traditions. When the kids were little, we cut down our own tree, made advent calendars, left cookies and milk for Santa and carrots for the reindeer. Gary was a part of all that including eating half the carrot and making hoof prints in the snow. Fast forward to a time when the kids were grown and had children of their own and we had downsized to a table top tree and Christmas dinner at one of their homes. Our Christmas mornings were spent sitting in our side by side lazy boy chairs chuckling at how we were enjoying our few hours of quiet until we arrived at our daughter’s home and the usual chaos. I was reminded this Christmas of one of our traditions that never went away. Our two daughters impatiently waited with loud sighs and lots of wiggles for Daddy to finish making his coffee before they could start opening gifts. He would deliberately take his time grinning from ear to ear with each loud groaning sigh. As they got older, they started making his coffee in hopes of speeding the process up and he would again deliberately find things to slow it down. This Christmas morning my oldest daughter posted on Facebook saying “the boys were chomping at the bit this morning and I said just hold on until I get my coffee” and the oldest boy said OK Grandpa". She then posted a picture of the stockings I had made them that were absolutely huge saying homemade stockings were a part of her Christmases and now it was part of the boys’ Christmas. Gary would have rolled his eyes and laughed at the size of them ……..and loved it. God I miss him!
  • Kelley Lynn
    commented 2015-12-28 07:36:51 -0800
    ALEX thank you so much for sharing that. The first set of holidays is so hard because youre just trying to adjust and breathe and get used to this new reality. Im so sorry. Your wife sounds like such a beautiful person.
  • Kelley Lynn
    commented 2015-12-28 07:35:24 -0800
    DIANE you are welcome here and Im so happy that you feel comfortable posting about your dear son Jonathan here. Please dont ever hesitate to post about him here. In my original post, I opened it up to anyone who is missing someone this holiday, not just spouses. I love Monty python and my husband did too, and that Lumberjack song is hilarious. Im glad you continue to go to the orchestra and I hope you can somehow feel him there too.
  • Diane Taylor
    commented 2015-12-28 04:31:47 -0800
    I know I shouldn’t be posting here about my loss since it is not a spouse but my son Jonathan but……it is unavoidable, the holidays without him (my only child) are excruciating. My favorite memory of holidays with Jonathan is that we ALWAYS went to a Christmas Tree farm to pick out and cut down our own tree – of the trees we picked out over the years!!! Jonathan was/is a HUGE Monty Python fan and he always sand “The Lumberjack Song” while cutting the tree. People would laugh at us but we didn’t care. I try to do it without him but it just doesn’t sound the same. We also went every year to see Trans Siberian Orchestra – I have made myself go without him and get lost in the music, hoping he is right there with me to see it all somehow.
  • Alex Whitaker
    commented 2015-12-27 13:57:19 -0800
    There is so much I miss about her. I miss her most of all, her company and light and love. I miss the joy she would bring, or how she would light up a room, especially this Christmas, the first without her. Every year before Christmas, we would get a new ornament for our tree. It was usually bought on one of our vacations or outings together.
    Thank you for your posts.
  • Kelley Lynn
    commented 2015-12-27 08:27:54 -0800
    Cathy your christmas with your guy sounds so lovely and beautiful, thank you for sharing those memories with me, I kn ow it can be painful to bring them up, but I also think it helps to keep them alive and I know I love talking about my husband to anyone who asks. I love the importance of music in your lives, we were the same way. I miss all of it too.
  • Kelley Lynn
    commented 2015-12-27 08:25:52 -0800
    Lisa, what a beautiful memory , I love that carousel and peppermint mocha tradition. My husband and I had peppermint hot chocolate with whipped cream and candy canes at our Christmas themed wedding. Hot chocolate always makes me think of him. And oh those morning hugs are something to be missed xoxo
  • Kelley Lynn
    commented 2015-12-27 08:23:48 -0800
    THank you for sharing that Stephen. Kathy sounds like such a joyful and beautiful person. I hope you got through the day okay, and happy birthday to you.
  • Stephen Hochhaus
    commented 2015-12-26 12:05:47 -0800
    What a wonderful idea to ask us to tag up Kelley and speak of our loves missing this year. So here’s to my bride Kathy who I know is with me on this trip to Virginia yet how very much I miss her touch. Christmas was her time of year. The baking, the decorating, the parties……..oh yeah! She was indeed the hostess with the hostess. It was the time of my birthday too which she never failed to make so special. It seems so painfully empty now even in a crowd but I still can find a smile creeping in that I am so aware she makes happen.
  • Lisa Richardson
    commented 2015-12-26 00:06:51 -0800
    Every year at Christmas we would go to downtown Seattle to let our son ride the holiday carousel, and my husband would delight in buying me my favorite holiday treat, a peppermint mocha. I miss sharing the memory around each ornament we were given or had made as we placed them on the tree. I miss how he would whisper Merry Christmas in my ear as he handed me my coffee and gave me my “morning hug”. He was always hovering in the kitchen and stealing bites of food before it was put on the table. Most of all I miss how much I smiled and laughed when he was around. Life was somehow safer, lighter, and more serene in his presence….such a gift!
  • Cathy
    commented 2015-12-25 20:19:24 -0800
    I too miss my husband, Doug, today and every day. He also loved this season, had to get the biggest real tree every year, even if it meant cutting it off once it was in the house to fit. He loved music, it played non stop for weeks. We lived on a quiet street, but not when he turned up the volume so you could hear every instrument in its glory, revererating the floor. We used to have a music store, and there were never enough lp’s or cd’s, there was always a new artist playing the old favorite Christmas tune that we just had to listen to. He scoured the library for new music too, and took his quota home, only to want to return in a few days to get more. Miss the annual ride around town, looking at the lights, miss the ride home from Church Christmas eve where street after street was illuminated by luminares, miss just sitting by the tree, lit up, presents waiting. Remembering our first Christmas together, all homemade ornaments on the tree, along with strings of popcorn we later put out for the birds. Miss him and that life so so much.