When faced with the upcoming holidays and already rapid heartbeat and fading strength, the last thing a bereaved parent wants to hear is , “Make a plan”.
But the truth is, if you don’t it will be so. much. worse.
No one can tell YOU what the plan should be. Each family is unique. Each year brings different challenges-declining health, moves, children or grandchildren born and a dozen other variables that must be accounted for THIS year versus years past.
This will be our fourth set of holidays without Dominic and the one thing that has been, and continues to be, important is communication. I need to communicate early enough and plainly enough to extended family what I and my immediate family can bear for this year. If I don’t, there will be misunderstandings and hurt feelings all around.
This year will be different than last year.
That’s something surprising to me this side of child loss, nothing seems “fixed”. No new tradition can take the place of the traditions we embraced before Dominic ran ahead to heaven. So every year I find myself feeling my way in the dark.
Another important note: Even though my loss is great I am not the only one whose heart should be honored this time of year. I may not be able to participate in everything others want to do, but I can decline gracefully and encourage them to celebrate well without fear I’m upset about it.
If this is your very first holiday season after loss, I highly recommend keeping things low-key, whatever that looks like for you.
Some families find that keeping tradition is helpful. Some find it unbearably painful. Some want to run away from familiar places and others want to wrap their hearts in shared memories.
Over the next few days I will be reposting past articles about how to survive the holidays after loss. I hope they cast a little light on this hard topic. Take what helps and leave the rest.
It’s your call.
No one else gets to judge how you choose to do (or not do) the holidays.