Sunday, November 27, 2016

Widowhood and the Holidays

Thanksgiving is over and hopefully everyone has finished the leftovers.  December is almost upon us.  No matter whether we celebrate Chanukah or Christmas, this is a difficult time for many of us who are widows.  How do we manage?

Of course we're all different.  Everyone faces grief in their own way.  There isn't a time table or a specific series of steps that everyone goes through in lockstep.  When my husband had been dead for about a year, I remember people asking, "How long did it take you to get over it?"  The answer is, I didn't.  I just learned to live in a different way, in what I called The World of Re: Re-flect, Re-vive, Re-frame, Re-invent, Re-emerge.

Which brings me back to the holidays.  Which makes you feel better--celebrating the holidays as you and your spouse always did or Re-inventing them with new traditions.  You could get together with others who might be alone for a holiday dinner out or at home.  You could Re-member your loved on with a gift to a favorite charity.  You could spread holiday joy by bringing small gifts to a nursing home, homeless shelter or by volunteering at a hospital on the day when most people are home with families,  It's amazing how spending time with others can Re-invigorate you.  \

If you're invited to a party, should you go?  To be honest, I have to force myself, but, again, we're all different.  Getting out and about may be just what you need to Re-charge.  The important thing is not to worry about what other people think or what advice they give.  It's your own personal decision.

Several years ago I attended Camp Widow, a gathering sponsored by Soaring Spirits, an organization for widows of all ages.  The keynote speech was given by the founder of the organization.  She wore a somber black dress as she told us about her husband's unexpected and tragic death n an accident.  She said that everything she wore during the first awful days was black, down to black underwear.  But when she decided she'd try getting out again, she thought a change of color would help her feel braver.  Then, right there on the stage, she slipped off her black dress and underneath it, she wore a bright red outfit!.  Everyone applauded.  So there's a thought.  Wear something bright.  It will brighten your mood.

May your holidays be filled with peace and friendship.


Margaret Anderson said... [Reply to comment]

I've never been married, so of course, never widowed. However, many years ago, about this time of year, my youngest brother was lost in the Mississippi River in a work-related accident. He was only 23 and had been married about 5 months. The authorities told us it would be x days till he could possibly be found alive, and y days till they would either find his body or not. We had to wait weeks until we could have a memorial service. We didn't want to have one and then have to do a funeral as well. We couldn't move on. By the time we had the memorial service, it was almost Christmas. My sister and I put our heads together and agreed to make Xmas as different as possible, rather than doing the usual way with everything being the same except that Bobby would be glaringly absent. So instead of turkey at Mom and Dad's in Galveston, we had it at my sister's in Houston. She fixed sauerbraten. I made stewed red cabbage. Can't remember what else we had, but it wasn't pumpkin pie. We continued this pattern for a few years, then, somehow, one year, I said I was thinking I might like turkey at our parents again, and everyone else had independently come to that same conclusion. I hope your readers take your suggestions and craft uplifting plans for the coming holidays.


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