When Grief Comes Crashing Down: Post Holiday Blues

It’s a paradox really-that grieving hearts can be more anxious and more sorrowful BEFORE and AFTER a milestone day, birthday or holiday than on the day itself.

That’s not true for everyone, but it’s a frequent comment in our closed bereaved parent groups.

Fearful anticipation of how awful it MIGHT be can work me up into a frenzy.

Image result for grief anniversaries

Read the rest here: Post Holiday Blues: When The Grief Comes Crashing Down

Christmas 2020: What The Bereaved Need From Friends & Family

Dominic left us in April, 2014.

At the time all I could manage (barely!) was the twenty-four hours of each long, lonely and pain-wracked day.

After six-plus years I’ve learned to look ahead, plan ahead and forge ahead to birthdays, holidays, special days and not-so-special days.

But it takes a great deal of effort and often uncomfortable conversations because no matter how long it’s been, I’m still dragging loss and its after affects behind me.

I wrote this in 2016 when I was desperate to communicate how hard it is to try to marry joy and sorrow, celebration and commemoration, light, love, life and darkness, grief and death.

It remains (I think) my most useful post: Grief and Holidays: What the Bereaved Need From Friends and Family

Another Christmas: 25 Practical Ways to Give Holiday Hope to the Grieving


This is the seventh Christmas without Dominic. There really are no words to describe the intersection of holiday cheer and another milestone in this journey of child loss.

I’m not sad all the time-far from it. Often I am very, very happy.

But I will never stop missing him, missing the family we used to be and missing our blissful ignorance of how quickly and utterly life can change in an instant.

And I will never outgrow the need to have others remember him as well, to encourage my heart and the hearts of my family members and to help us make it through another year, another Christmas.

Here are some great ways to do it:  25 Ways to Give Holiday Hope to the Grieving

My Goodness! Why Is Christmas SO Hard???

I first shared this a few years ago when I really thought I should have reached a place in my grief journey where holidays weren’t as difficult as they were at first.

But what I realized then and what has been confirmed since is that every year has new and unique situations that make Christmas a fresh challenge each time.

This year is particularly difficult since our family will not be able to spend it together due to the pandemic. It makes an already melancholy season even more so.

As the seventh Christmas without Dominic rapidly approaches, I am pondering the question:  “Why, oh why, is Christmas so hard?” 

I think I’ve figured out at least a few reasons why.

For me, probably THE biggest reason Christmas is hard is because it throws off the routine I depend on to shepherd my heart through a day.  It’s easiest for me to manage when I have at least a couple of hours of quiet time each morning.  I need those silent moments to let my heart feel what it needs to feel, to cry if I must and to orient my thoughts after, once again, “remembering” that Dominic isn’t here.

Read the rest here: Why, Oh Why, is Christmas So Hard???

Making Space For Grief During The Holidays

This has certainly been a year, hasn’t it?

For some of us, along with societal angst, fear, illness and loss (of income, dreams, opportunities), we are heavy laden with grief.

That makes everything harder when it’s most certainly already hard enough.

Coronavirus memes being shared in 2020 - West Virginia Press Association

So while there may be fewer gatherings, parties, school activities and community events due to Covid19 you are probably already feeling some pressure to show up and be part of something, somewhere.

I want to take a minute to think about how important it is to make and maintain space for grief during this busy season.

You have to do it.  

I know, I know-where to fit it in between all the other responsibilities!

If you don’t, though, the grief will out itself one way or another.  

So may I offer the following practical suggestions for this upcoming holiday season?

  • Start each day (whenever possible) with a few minutes of alone time.  Let those moments be the buffer between you and the day ahead.  Don’t allow your mind to wander to your “to do” list.  Sit.  Sip the hot beverage of your choice and let silence soothe your soul.
  • Don’t overschedule your days (or nights!).  Exercise the option of saying, “no” to things that are not really important or necessary.  Just because you have done it every other year doesn’t obligate you to do it this year.  Exhaustion always magnifies despair.  
  • Try to balance busy days with not so busy days.  The surest path to meltdown is traveling in the fast lane.
  • Let other people take on responsibilities-especially if they offer- and even if they don’t.  Asking for help when you need it is a sign of maturity, not a sign of weakness.
  • Keep a pad and pen on your nightstand and jot down any random thoughts that you don’t want to forget before bedtime.  There is no sense worrying about something you can’t address until morning and writing it down means you won’t forget it.
  • Make use of online everything.  Have gifts sent directly to recipients.  Order groceries for pick up.  There are many ways to make life less hectic and more enjoyable.  If you don’t know what’s available in your area, ask friends and family.
  • Plan for at least one recovery day for every large gathering/party/meal you have to attend.  Some of us need two.
  • Don’t sweat the small stuff.  If you are used to having matching everything, perfect centerpieces and gourmet meals it may be hard to lower your standards.  But if there is one thing I have learned since Dominic ran ahead to heaven, it’s that the companionship of those we love trumps anything else.  People rarely remember how you set your table but they will remember who sat around your table.
  • And if your heart is too tender to do anything but hold on and hope this month passes quickly, then do that.  You don’t have to live up to anyone else’s expectations.  Sometimes that’t the best we can do and that is OK.

Grief requires so. much. energy.

And you can’t spend the same energy twice.

So make space for grief in your holiday plans. 

It’s Possible To Survive December With A Broken Heart

It comes up again and again-and not just for the parents facing their year of “firsts”:  How do I survive December with a broken heart?

There’s no single answer or list of things to do that will suit every family.

But there are some general principles that can make even this awful reality a little easier.

Read the rest here: How To Survive December With a Broken Heart

Grief and Post-Holiday Exhaustion

I don’t know about you, but I find I can often white-knuckle through a holiday itself only to be spent and exhausted on the other side.

Staying busy in the kitchen, trying hard to be present and participate, enjoying extra folks in the house and around the table are great distractions.

I love being with my people!

Thanksgiving Pandemic Style 2020

Of course I’m constantly aware of the quiet tune that plays in the background, “Dom’s not here” but I genuinely appreciate every moment I have with the ones I love.

But…then comes the quiet.

A silent reminder of the hollow carved in my heart.

And I can’t ignore it.

So I have to take a day (or two or three) and rest.

It’s what I call a “holiday hangover” and it has nothing to do with over-indulging in spirits or food.

It’s OK if I don’t rush to tidy the house or start planning for the next get-together. I don’t have to prove anything to anyone.

I can pause, take a breather, sit and read or do nothing at all.

You can too.

Thanksgiving Plan Modified, Again.

We were pretty sure Thanksgiving was nailed down this year.

Several of us have spent months doing work down at Papa’s place creating the perfect space for the whole family to gather. Food was ordered, menu planned and travel coordinated.

But no one can plan for the unpredictable.

So when Covid cases skyrocketed and we did the math, it became too risky for four separate households to spend five days eating, sleeping and playing together under one roof.

We called it off.

It was and is heartbreaking.

But not as heartbreaking as adding another empty chair around the table or missing another face in our family circle.

Perhaps you’re faced with some equally hard choices this year, this season.

I’m so sorry.

It seems especially unfair to those whose hearts are already lonely from loss to be forced to give up the chance for fellowship and encouragement in company of family and friends!

I wish there were some magic to make it all better.

There isn’t.

And one thing I’ve learned in this life I didn’t choose is this: you have to make the best of what you have left.

Thanksgiving with the family before loss. ❤

So I pray no matter how small, how unusual, how disappointing your own Thanksgiving may feel this year that you find space in your heart for hope.

We are not doing what we planned, but we are doing something.

It won’t be what we wished for, but we will still have a day.

I’ll take it.

Sip and Savor-Simplifying Holidays

I first shared this post three years ago when our family was in the midst of hard circumstances and we all had frayed nerves.

This year is a different kind of hard because some of the plans we thought were coming together are falling apart. I imagine many folks probably feel the same way with the pandemic forcing changes to longstanding traditions. So I’m sharing again.

You’d think that writing something down would ink it in my brain but I forget too. I need this reminder to take a breath, take a sip of my favorite flavored whatever and savor the beauty of this season.

❤ Melanie

Here they come round the bend like a pack of dogs chasing that rabbit on a racetrack.

No way to slow them down, no way to step to the side and ward off the relentless message that Thanksgiving and Christmas are coming soon-so, so soon.

Internet ads scream, “You’ve got to buy it NOW!  You’re running out of time!”

Read the rest here: Trying to Hold off the Holidays

Holidays 2020: Some Practical Ideas

Our family has yet to settle into a routine for the holidays even six years after Dominic ran ahead to Heaven. I’m always looking for new ideas that might be suitable.

Pinterest just doesn’t cater to those trying to craft celebrations that make space for grief and empty chairs.

So here are a few ideas I’ve compiled from other bereaved parents. I hope those who read this post will add their own.

Maybe one or more will help your family make a plan.

❤ Melanie

It cannot be overstated:  holidays are extremely hard after loss.  Every family gathering highlights the hole where my son SHOULD be, but ISN’T.

There is no “right way” or “wrong way” to handle the holidays after losing a child.

For many, there is only survival-especially the very first year.

Read the rest here: Practical Ideas for Dealing with the Holidays after Child Loss