It is starting to feel like fall, mostly for us Floridians we have a few degrees lower than summer, so we will take what we can get! The Kids are back in school, business has picked up since the summer and everything seems to be “moving and shaking”. As the month of October approaches, so do the Holidays…uh oh, yes the Holidays, can we just skip those please? You can already see the shelves being stocked with pumpkins, decorations…etc. Holidays are a time to spend with family and friends, enjoying the memories of the years gone by, and looking forward to the future together. But for the widow, the holidays are some of the most painful reminders of her loss. Dealing with the death of a spouse during these festive times is difficult, and this difficulty is compounded by the fact that many friends and family members do not understand what you are going through. And it is not only holidays that can be painful. You will experience your loss all over again when you face each anniversary, birthday, and other special event without the one you held so dear.
First things first, prepare yourself. Recognize what you are heading into. While you cannot predict what events will cause you pain, try to anticipate the possibilities, and then do what you can to avoid the situations that are too unbearable without you spouse. You can say “no” to well-meaning invitations, particularly if attending will make you more miserable, try to avoid events where you know 90% are going to be couples, this will isolate you and most likely bring anxiety to the situation. Remember, others will not understand what you are going through, and if attending a dinner party without your husband is going to cause your grief to climax, it is better to avoid it. You are not under any obligation to attend these events. Instead, invite some friends over, watch a movie you have been wanting to see, grab some delicious food and call it a night. Remember, your emotional and physical health is your first priority.
Family traditions will be reminders to you of your loss. If they are too painful, you need to give yourself permission to change them. Perhaps opening Christmas presents on a different day will be easier on you and/or if you have children. You may find that a change in the traditional menu will help you to be distracted enough to get through a difficult day.
As the Holidays slowly approach, I hope you are surrounded by tons of love and support. Remember, Baby-steps. – Andi