Holiday Grief: When The First Holiday Is NOT The Worst Holiday

Holidays and Special Days / Holidays and Special Days : Litsa Williams

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Until yesterday, Eleanor and I had felt like we had said just about everything there was to say about grieving at the holidays. Then, our Facebook page blew up with people discussing the first holidays after a loss not being the hardest. The consensus was that this was common and yet totally unexpected for many grievers. 

Today's post will be short and sweet. We just need to say one thing about holiday grief before Christmas and New Years are upon us: The first holidays are NOT always the worst. Sometimes they are, sometimes they are not. Grief is complicated like that. Just know if this holiday is feeling even worse than the first holiday after your loss, that is totally normal. And when you think about why, it kinda makes sense.

5 Reasons The First Holiday Might Not Be the Worst

The first holidays were a blur. This is often true, but especially when you lost your loved one in the latter part of the year. Everything is a blur, holidays included. As hard as it was, your mind and body may have still been in a shocked state—and that shock protected you just a bit as you muddled through the holidays. 

You cut yourself a break during the first holidays. The first year we know it will be hard and people will (hopefully) be understanding. That can make it is easier to say no to certain events, skip certain traditions, and find support around us. But by Year 2, we may find it harder to say no or admit our holiday grief. Remember: There is no set timeline for grief. You have just as much of a right to cut yourself some slack in Year 2 as you do in Year 1!

During the first holidays, other people gave you a pass. Early on after a loss, we often get lots of support and understanding. This includes during the first holiday season: Others are more likely to support us doing what we need for ourselves. In Year 2 and beyond, people may not be quite as understanding during the holidays. Though it can be easier said than done, try not to let those around you pressure you.

The holidays stop being polite and start getting real. On our Facebook page, several people commented that, in the second year, it felt real that their loved one was truly gone and their holidays would never look and feel exactly the same again. This of course does not mean the holidays can't still be wonderful. It does mean they will always be at least a little hard, different, and bittersweet. For whatever reason, that reality doesn't always set in during Year 1. But it can hit us like a ton of bricks in Year 2, 3 or even beyond.

You thought you would be in a better place this year. During Year 1, you may have skipped things altogether, taken a break, scrapped some stressful holiday stuff, all the while telling yourself you would get it together next year. Well, now it is next year and you are not nearly as 'together' as you thought you would be. You have the pain of the holidays and now you are beating yourself up that you aren't where you thought you would be.

This is usually the point in a post when we give you some practical ideas on how to cope. Luckily, we already have about a zillion other posts about dealing with the holidays. You can read our most recent post on having a happy-sad holiday here, or check out all our past holiday posts here.  

The most important thing to remember if your holiday is feeling harder than your first holiday is: You are not alone. You are also not weird, you are not crazy, you are not grieving wrong, and you are still entitled to cut yourself all the slack you need. Sending all our good thoughts to get through the holidays and maybe-hopefully find just a little joy along way.

We invite you to share your experiences, questions, and resource suggestions with the WYG community in the discussion section below.

We invite you to share your experiences, questions, and resource suggestions with the WYG community in the discussion section below.

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After writing online articles for What’s Your Grief for over a decade, we finally wrote a tangible, real-life book!

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149 Comments on "Holiday Grief: When The First Holiday Is NOT The Worst Holiday"

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  1. Jenn  December 21, 2022 at 5:37 pm Reply

    My son died suddenly and tragically in a motorcycle accident Sept 30, 3021. Last holiday season was a numbing blur. Entering into season 2, I’m just lost. I didn’t decorate much last year and I only decorated this year because my 16yr old daughter needed it. It’s just so final feeling now. The one less stocking, Christmas shopping and seeing things he would’ve liked, seeing his son celebrate with his mama and new daddy (very complicated situation, the guy is a blessing to them…but it’s so hard on my heart). I feel lost and empty. I fight off crying and screaming because my husband and daughter need me to be strong and not checked out. If she wasn’t home I doubt I’d decorate or celebrate much at all. I can celebrate its Jesus’ birth celebration, I just am overwhelmed by the family aspect of it all. The family Christmas picture card that we didn’t do, the Christmas adventures we won’t be doing, his laughter missing from my everyday hurts so much more during Christmas.
    I don’t know anyone who’s lost a son (that’s not a baby)… I’ve had miscarriages and there is a difference.. a huge difference in the loss of someone I have memories with, built dreams with, laughed and cried with. There’s nowhere really to turn. Friends who I thought were forever friends have all but ghosted me this past year.. I’ve never felt so alone and forgotten. That’s saying a lot if you knew my childhood.
    Truly the absolute worst pain. I’ve lost parents, friends, uncles, grandparents, cousins, miscarriages and nothing comes even close to touching the pain of the loss of my son.

    • Megan  December 22, 2022 at 7:28 pm Reply

      I don’t know if you will see this but I’m so sorry for your loss. I was just talking about this same thing with my mom last night. My brother died suddenly 4 months ago; since then my parents have tried grief counseling but my mom feels like the counselor can’t relate at all. The counselor told her she can relate because she had a miscarriage; my mom and I both have had a miscarriage and it is not the same thing at all. I appreciate her trying to relate but when people say things like that it only makes you feel more lonely =[

  2. Tania  December 21, 2022 at 12:09 am Reply

    I am new to grief and fighting it every step of the way. I don’t want to accept this reality and don’t want to go through this pain. My daughter Kayleigh, 20 yrs old, paved this path for me but never gave me the map. She left us 3 years ago. I know everyone’s life we know was affected but I feel like mine ended. I write posts on Facebook, I did one everyday for the first year. Hoping to see my changes and hopefully my strength facing it. But I haven’t. I regress to be so angry now… isn’t that like one of the first steps of grief? I can’t cope on this rollercoaster of emotion. It flippen sucks. I continue to do posts hoping to find the light switch in my dark world.

    • Tammy  December 22, 2022 at 12:54 pm Reply

      My deepest sympathy for the loss of your Daughter at such a young age of 20 my Sister passed of cancer at 23 there is given timeline for grief just when you think your moving on any stage can take hold again. As my Mom said loosing a child is one of the hardest losses you will ever experience as a Parent the holidays are especially difficult the loss tends to take hold. If you get to the place where you cant cope I would strongly suggest grief counseling with either a professional or a Pastor my church has a support group for loss.

  3. Debbie S  December 20, 2022 at 12:17 am Reply

    My dad passed away in May. My husband and I had just retired when my dad started having health issues. I worked hard to get him in with doctors and tests and having options for him. He was hospitalized on a Friday and passed away on the following Wednesday. I am still in shock that he is really gone. We have now moved up a generation. I just want to talk to him about how my adult children are responding. My comfort is I KNOW he is in heaven because he accepted Jesus as his Savior.

    • Tammy  December 22, 2022 at 1:00 pm Reply

      Hi Debbie,
      I lost my Mom my BFF 3 years ago as yourself I navigated her care . The shock your experiencing is normal and part of the grief journey there is no blue print to this journey everyone’s timeline is different it is very painful loosing a Parent it rocked me to my core. Yes like you I am the next generation. I pray that God holds you in the palm of his hand during this difficult season

  4. Rachelle  December 19, 2022 at 7:49 pm Reply

    My husband passed away over 7 years ago at a young age. Yet I’m finding this, my 7th Christmas without him to be the hardest yet. I don’t understand because nothing has changed, I’ll be spending Christmas Day with my parents as I have since he’s passed. But this year I just can’t bring myself to do any decorating, baking, shopping, wrapping…nothing. And I cry, every single day…I’m just hurting so bad, I miss him so much…will the pain ever get better? Not go away, just not be so devastating….

    • Tammy  December 22, 2022 at 1:06 pm Reply

      Hi Rachelle,
      Isn’t grief one strange journey. I find that it doesn’t matter how many years pass it can come round again out of the blue. When you loose someone that you love so much I believe there’s a hole in your heart that never truly heals. Do the things that you are up if not don’t this year. A good cry heals in ways if it persists doesn’t wane talking to someone may help.

  5. Guest  December 2, 2022 at 9:50 am Reply

    All the holidays really suck for many of us single guys that don’t have a wife and family to share it with, especially the fact that many of us aren’t single by choice either.

  6. Linda  December 26, 2021 at 1:13 pm Reply

    Ugh….found this second Christmas since my dads passing…he died September 15, 2020…harder than last year. The first Christmas after losing my dad was different than this year… probably because I was so in shock and disbelief that he had died, so the first Christmas without him in our lives was bad but a big blur, but this second Christmas seemed a lot worse. As time goes by, I miss him more. Holidays are tougher now, that is for sure. My dads passing was rough for me. Due to Covid I could not be there by his side in his final hours on earth. Parents live 3 thousand miles away from me. There was no funeral due to Covid. Four months after dad died, mom had a heart attack, and so did I. Same month. The stress was just too much for us. I am still grieving, and my cardiologist tried to say I should be moving on already, but heck no…everyone is different, and we all deal with our grief our own way…no matter how long it takes us. It is a private thing. My thing. Not sure though I will ever get over losing a parent… I lost a love I will never have again…the love of my father. I think I will cry forever, and I know I will never ever get over losing my precious father. He was the love of my mothers’ life, and he was the love of our lives. Always in my heart, dad…miss you so much.

    • Tammy  December 22, 2022 at 1:13 pm Reply

      Hi Linda,
      My heart goes out to you I cant imagine loosing a Parent during Covid not having a proper funeral or being able to see them in the hospitaI. My BFF Mom passed 3 years ago this year was harder than the other 2 . I have cried on and off since Thanksgiving. I don’t think you ever get over the loss of a Parent with time it does get easier but you need to cry the waves of tears as they come go thru the middle of the storm eventually one gets to the other side.

  7. Michael  December 21, 2021 at 2:27 pm Reply

    The biggest loss for me happened on a Thanksgiving Day, and it made an ugly ironic mockery of what is supposed to be a joyous good-intentioned family-get-together.

    So yes, “bad irony” is, for me, the only word for it when we hear all of the BS about the wonderful happy Thanksgiving family get-together.

    And yes, it’s every bit as ironic now as it was 52 years ago.

  8. Dick  December 21, 2021 at 10:22 am Reply

    My wife died March 13, 2021 of widely metastatic breast cancer. Last Christmas, we knew was going to be our Last Christmas. In fact, we delayed the next round of scans until just after Christmas, knowing they would be bad. And right after Christmas, we took our tree down, took all the decorations down, and hunkered down. There were beautiful moments, very poignant moments. And the scans were bad, and it got hard, then harder, then hardest. I’ve worked hard at grieving and I am experiencing healing and even a sense of rebirth. So I’m kind of in a place that this First Christmas can’t possibly be worse than the Last Christmas. Can it? It’s the First Christmas in the rest of my life.

  9. Ellenor Richardson  December 17, 2021 at 8:12 am Reply

    My Mum passed September 2020, in Scotland, UK
    Couldn’t go see her, nor attend her funeral, we watched it live.
    Still haven’t been able to go over there.
    Hopefully going June 2022, but I am getting to the point that I really don’t want to go, I don’t want to face that reality.
    Hugs to everyone who’s grieving x

  10. Judy  December 9, 2021 at 1:38 pm Reply

    This is my first Xmas without my husband. He passed away Jan of this year and l have not handled his death very well Half of the time l am in a fog and cry all the time He was a kind gentle man I don’t know how l am going to handle this holiday I just want to be left alone in my grieving l have a little dog Rosie who l have for company l just want these holidays to be over with

  11. Rhian  December 9, 2021 at 9:34 am Reply

    Thank you for this timely article/support. My mum died in 2020 but lately I’ve been thinking about her more and more. The pain of loss has morphed into something else altogether, almost a yearning, for the person who kept our family together and connected.

  12. Michelle  December 6, 2021 at 10:05 pm Reply

    I’m glad to have found this post. I thought it could not be normal that the second Thanksgiving/Christmas/New Year’s could possibly be worst than the first. My husband took his own life on March 13, 2020, 4 days before the world shut down due to COVID. We finally had a funeral in June 2020 which we were lucky to do. So many other stressors and losses have happened since between me and my adult children. I feel like there’s been no time to process it all, and here we are over year and a half later crying every day because we just want him back and we just want the holidays to be over because they will NEVER be the same. God Bless all of you who are still suffering even more years after your loss. My brain knows that someday I won’t feel this badly forever, but is it right?

  13. Michele  December 24, 2020 at 7:40 pm Reply

    I lost my Mum 3 years later ago this Christmas. This has been the hardest I think. Thank you for posting your article.

  14. Adriana  December 24, 2020 at 5:25 pm Reply

    My mom passed away unexpectedly on February 3rd this year. These are the first holidays without her and my fear and anxiety levels started growing about a month ago, as soon as I realized the imminence of the pain during these times.
    It’s all going to be different, for the rest of our lives. We will continue to stay united as a family, but without her. But I don’t plan on allowing anyone to minimize my grief for the following years, however it may take.
    I’ve given up putting up a Christmas tree, I don’t even want to celebrate it. I just can’t wait for Christmas and NYE to be over, then we’ll have to commemorate her 1 year passing. Hopefully I will be able to regain some peace once all this is over.
    Stay strong, everyone!

  15. Lianna Arguelles  December 18, 2020 at 1:49 am Reply

    My father passed away from Stage 4 Liver Cancer on May 9th, 2020. I’m not even quite sure where I’m at in my grief. I think it’s getting harder as time goes on. I still have moments when I realize he’s not here and shake my head like it’s a bad dream. I miss hearing his flip flops at 4 am (insomnia) walking past my door, the same foot steps that used to wake me up and I used to get so mad about. I don’t think I’ve had a proper cry yet. Too much pain, if it all comes out at once I won’t be able to handle it. I’m rambling. I have a knot in my throat. I need to release these thoughts though. I might spend a lot more time on this site. Thanks for writing these articles.

    • IsabelleS  December 18, 2020 at 10:11 am Reply

      Lianna, I’m truly so sorry for your loss. Thank you for taking the time to comment and to share your story… I’m so glad that you found our website. I hope releasing these thoughts is helpful. It’s so normal and okay to take time to fully process the death of a loved one. Don’t judge yourself for not having had a proper cry yet, not having dealt with all the emotions, etc. You will get there and, when you do, I am confident that you will be able to handle it. To prepare for that moment, it may be helpful to seek out the support of a therapist trained in grief and bereavement, which you can find here: All the best to you.

  16. Daniel  December 9, 2020 at 3:47 am Reply

    December 14 2017 is when my mom died of stage 4 cancer i was ten at the time and it’s gonna be the third year since she passed and it doesn’t make me sad or happy just confusion and when i try to solve it i get a burst of pure rage and regret and i go on thinking i could’ve said something when she was at the hospital but i couldn’t even when she was at my aunt’s house i couldn’t say anything because it was fear and i don’t want that taking me down if i give an attitude it’s because I’m fighting myself. I don’t want fear taking me down anymore

    • Daniel  December 9, 2020 at 3:48 am Reply

      For those who ask what she passed of it was stage 4 lung cancer

      • Moe  December 8, 2021 at 2:22 pm

        Daniel, I’m so sorry for your loss. I’m 47 and it’s very painful. I lost my mom April 14th 2021 and it was somewhat unexpected. I have the same feelings as you, regret, sadness, fear, anxiety. I think it’s so hard to say what you want in the moment but after it happens you think of everything you wish you said. Your mom knew you loved her. You were probably her whole world. The fact you spent time with her said it all. I hope you can find peace knowing how much she loved you. Go easy on yourself. It all takes time. She is always with you.

    • IsabelleS  December 9, 2020 at 10:59 am Reply

      Daniel, I’m so sorry for your loss. The mixed emotions you’re feeling–the rage, regret, confusion, etc.–are so normal and valid during the grieving process. It sounds as though you are being immensely hard on yourself… It’s okay to be afraid. Sometimes fear takes over, and that’s okay. Try to be gentle with yourself, and let yourself feel what you need to feel. All the best to you.

  17. Tammy  December 3, 2020 at 12:43 pm Reply

    My BFF, My Mom passed away October 2019 and on her Birthday December 16th she would of turned 97. Last year was a blur this year is much harder just my Husband and I no Children and my FIL lives locally in an ALF they have been on lockdown since March. I’ve distanced myself from a long term Friend recently when I tried to express what I’m feeling she reminded me that its actually year 2 and constantly goes back to her Grandmother that died 30 years ago I reminded her that its only been a little over a year for me. It has shed some light on how our Friendship has changed over the years all the conversations always go back to her its sad how people don’t get it.

    • IsabelleS  December 4, 2020 at 2:02 pm Reply

      Tammy, I’m so sorry for your loss. I understand how frustrating it can be to have friends make such invalidating statements. I recommend you check out this article: It sounds like you tried to communicate to this friend that what she’s saying hasn’t been helpful and that she didn’t really hear you or listen. It seems like you made the right decision distancing yourself from her a bit, but I completely get how hard this must have been and continues to be. All the best to you.

      • Tammy  December 9, 2020 at 12:38 pm

        Thank you for your response and all the people you support on this website as we navigate this journey. The 64 things about grief was very helpful I don’t think anyone understands it until they go through it.

  18. J. Burkes  November 26, 2020 at 1:25 pm Reply

    My sweet husband of 33 years passed away 09/22/2020. He was sick for 3 weeks.
    We all thought he was going to get out of the hospital but he passed away. I am heartbroken because he was not only my soulmate but my best friend. I am finding it so hard not to expect him to walk in the kitchen tasting the food. I have decided to be happy because he would want me too. He was such a happy person, full of laughter.
    His love for us and legacy will live on through us.
    He’s always with us in spirit so we must have a joyful spirit even through heartache. I find comfort in all of his positive Sunday School lessons that he left behind. GOD is able to comfort the broken-hearted.

    • IsabelleS  November 27, 2020 at 11:28 am Reply

      I’m so sorry for your loss. I imagine the fact that it was unexpected made it all the more difficult. My heart goes out to you. I’m happy to hear you’ve found some comfort in your faith. I suggest you check out this article and its comments: Be gentle with yourself.

    • Tammy  December 9, 2020 at 12:52 pm Reply

      J. Burkes
      I am so sorry for the loss of your Husband it must be so hard for you its been a year since my dear Mom passed. Grief is a journey that can be brutal at times I never felt such despair God does carry you on Angel wings don’t feel guilty about any emotions you may experience it is your personal journey.

  19. Stephen weber  September 29, 2020 at 9:06 am Reply

    My brother, Fred, passed away on 9/15/20. so, these coming holidays will not be easy.

    I just wanted to share MY plans for dealing with the holidays. I first wqnr to say that one should NOT feel guilty about not partaking in holiday festivities. NO ONE has the right to expect you to.

    Secondly, we often get caught up in “tradition”. What does this mean? it means that we believe that all holidays that are tradition-based (I’m not talking about the Jewish feast days, but rather about days like Thanksgiving) and are to be observed “the way everyone else observes them”.

    HOGWASH. as for me, I will be spending my Thanksgiving in a cabin, alone with the Lord, praying and fasting. it is the opposite of what most people will be doing, but for me, who does not want to be partaking in the very activity I did last year, when my brother was still alive, and provoking sad memories, it is therapeutic.

    We sometimes need to define “new normals” for how we deal with holidays. And why not? Doing so may be the only way one has of “starting a new chaoter” in their life, and moving on.

    incidentally, believers in Jesus who have lost loved ones who are also believers can take comfort in the knowledge that the tine of separation from their loved ones is merely “a vapor” in comparison to the time in eternity in which they will be reunited with their loved ones forever.

    God bless!

  20. Carlos  December 24, 2019 at 1:34 pm Reply

    Today Christmas Eve 2019, my mother passed away 6 years ago before my eyes. She was diagnosis with mutilple myeloma, a rare blood cancer 1 month before she died. I am an only child with no children. My mother’s birthday is Christmas Day. Today I feel somewhat sad because I truly miss my mother and we were very close. My last 2 aunts past away in May 2019 and July 2019. One of them was my mother’s twin sister. I have cousins, but I’m not close with them. They are doing their own celebrations at Christmas with their husbands, wives, and children. Most people don’t understand the pain and loneliness of the loss of a parent, child, or spouse until they’ve been in your shoes. Some will tell you to move on because they don’t want to hear about your loss. Today I am staying in my apartment all day in deep meditation talking with God, Jesus Christ, and his Archangels asking to give me the strength not to be lonely and sad today and tomorrow, Christmas Day. My mother wouldn’t want me to be sad. As a 2 year heart attack survivor, I am thankful to the almighty God for keeping me in the land of the living. I have so much to be thankful for this Christmas. Christmas Eve night, I might attend Catholic Mass at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception. Merry Christmas to all and remember, you’re not alone. Think about the good things in your life and be thankful. I may be alone, but I am not lonely.

  21. Ginny Tippett  December 21, 2019 at 2:53 pm Reply

    This is my first post and our fourth Christmas without our son who passed away at the age of 30 in an auto accident. This has been our worst holiday season yet. Our two older girls have new relationships which give them different holiday plans, which don’t match our traditions. My husband and I realize we may have to make our own new traditions. This is very hard. We feel abandoned by them as we promised to make a better effort at being a closer family, now we wait and become second fiddle to their new lives. Our parents are both gone as well, so it is us and our little 12lb dog we inherited from our son. Our son was mildly autistic, so he was our forever child. We feel guilt over letting him move away and succeed on his own. Which he did.

    • Glenda  December 23, 2019 at 8:31 am Reply

      You are good parents to let him succeed on his own. God bless you.

  22. Nikki Mitchell  December 20, 2019 at 12:38 pm Reply

    This was great to read. I thought something must be wrong with me….. it was 2 years ago I lost my husband unexpectedly, and I feel worse than I remember last year. I don’t remember the first Christmas as he passed away on October 27, 2017 which happened to be my 50th birthday AND our 20th anniversary.
    I was in shock for so long I don’t remember much of the first year and bits of the 2nd. It seems I had been asleep for 2 years and just waking up to the harsh reality that none of it was a nightmare…. it was real. Now I’m wide awake and sadder than ever. Good to know I’m not alone in this feeling. Thanks for putting it out there.

  23. Cathie Weber  December 19, 2019 at 4:18 pm Reply

    Thanks for this, Beth. Courtney sent it to me today after I told her I was not dealing with Stephen’s death well this holiday season. Nice to know it’s normal.

  24. Lynette  December 19, 2019 at 2:29 pm Reply

    Thanks for this post – it’s like you read my mind. I lost my mum in sep last year and up until her 1 year anniversary this September, it honestly felt like I was living on adrenaline and now her absence feels far more real and this holiday, my upcoming birthday and Christmas is much harder for me without her than last year- which was indeed a blur!

  25. Janet Chambers  December 19, 2019 at 2:23 pm Reply

    This will be our tenth Christmas without our daughter Jennifer. This year has been the worst so far. I didn’t realize this was common. The six years prior to her death were miserable as well, because of her addiction. Just sixteen awful years for our family.

  26. Amy Muniz  December 18, 2019 at 2:45 pm Reply

    This is my first holiday without my dad. He died Oct 5th this year. We found out he had terminal spinal cancer in June—and was in the hospital from his surgery day June 15th to July 4th, then stayed at his cousins house with my mom where he received treatment. Then in August went back into the hospital and never came out until passing. He passed with me, my mom and brother there. It was very traumatic for me to process. I have one brother and he is not taking it well—he became very angry with me.
    There is so much tension in our little family of three now because we all live in separate cities and my brother and I —both have families —four kids.
    I have a special needs daughter of 4, then another 5,6,8 year old—so since October I have not stopped but this holiday is definitely taking its toll on me. My heart does not hurt only when I sleep. My dad was a huge part of our holiday at our house so it hurts the moment I wake to the moment I go to sleep. No one would ever know because my supportive kids and husband keep me very busy but my mind is different. I can feel it. My heart is different. Prayer is what I always turn to but some days I do get so full of pity and don’t even want to wake up. It’s hard to be merry, wrap gifts, sing, etc. prayers for all that are enduring and surviving this holiday.

  27. Buffie  December 15, 2019 at 10:47 pm Reply

    Hello everyone! My father passed away from Pancreatic cancer in Feb of 2019 and this will be our first Christmas without him. The whole family is gathering at moms for Christmas dinner. Here is my problem. There is a lot of family history that isn’t good for me. I have always been treated like the “black sheep”. I honestly do not want to even go. The only reason why I would even go is that my kids and my grandsons will all be there. My children are all adults, but the grands are just little guys. I have never really grieved for my dad, seriously. I went to the viewing, but I could not bring myself to attend his funeral. I was invited to Thanksgiving dinner at my moms and I made an excuse so I would not have to go.
    I honestly do not want to even decorate for the holidays, I would just love this year to be over with so 2020 can get started.

  28. Betsy Ray  December 12, 2019 at 8:26 am Reply

    I’m so glad I saw this today. This is my second Christmas without my 54 year old daughter and best friend, who died suddenly of a blood clot. I found her in her apartment after her work friends got concerned and called me (police, paramedics, building manager all involved); and the fourth without my 46 year old son, who died after a long complicated grueling battle with bladder cancer. Fifty years ago, my year-old daughter died of SIDS a week before Christmas. I keep thinking I should know how to deal with this – and I’m grateful beyond words for my widowed daughter-in-law and my two grandchildren. But when I think of “how Christmas used to be”, it brings both happy memories and a sense of heaviness that it will never be that way again…and that I still have mountains of tasks I haven’t tackled. I’m living in a wonderful retirement community, with new friends who are supportive – some who have suffered similar losses, and we shore each other up. But I’m surrounded by my daughter’s treasured possessions (crammed into my one-bedroom apartment) and am struggling to find “homes” for her thousands of vacation photos, memorabilia and letters. And as an only child, all the family ‘stuff’ has funneled down to me. I’m 77 – I have to do something with all this – or leave it as a burden for my daughter-in-law. The first two years I lived here, I had a tree and decorations, and the kids came over, and we were cozy together on Christmas morning. Now it’s me and the cat and way too many reminders. And worst of all, I haven’t really cried since the night we found my daughter’s body. I’ve armored myself so thoroughly that I feel like my humanity is gone. I’m like a cheerful, friendly robot with occasional ‘bad days’ when I don’t leave the apartment. And I’m afraid of falling apart – like that will be the beginning of the end for me – and no one will have any patience with me because it all happened “so long ago”. I’ve acquired the reputation of being an amazingly resilient courageous blah blah blah, and a “model” for handling grief. The secret is I’m not handling it at all. To anyone out there who is feeling alone, or feeling “bad about not feeling good”, don’t let anybody tell you how to live through this. We’ll get to the “new normal”, but it’s not a smooth path, and backsliding, denial, distraction, and erratic emotions are allowed. (At least that’s what I tell myself!) Love to all…

  29. Jimmy Fancher  December 12, 2019 at 7:27 am Reply

    I am so happy I saw this post because I thought it was just me. This is the second Christmas without my dad who died from Alzheimer’s. I was in overdrive last year: decorated the yard and house inside and out, went to multiple Christmas programs, watched every holiday movie and specials, etc. This year I feel like I’ve hit a brick wall. Relieved to learn that this is normal!

  30. Frank DeRosa  December 11, 2019 at 1:26 pm Reply

    Everyone grieves in their own way. There is no right or wrong way to do it. My father died in a car crash in September 1975. My mother vowed that our home would not be dark for that Christmas. Our home was ablaze with lights and decorations. It wasn’t a happy year and we knew nothing would ever be the same but we carried on. For me, all those decorations were therapeutic. It made me realize that I’d always need Christmas. I vowed to myself that year that I would observe the holiday as long as I was healthy enough to do so.

    Fast forward to 1999. My mother died in September that year. I made good on my vow and decorated my home that year. I even made a return visit to Santaland at Macy’s Times Square, where my mother had once taken me to see Santa when I was a child. Once again, nothing could ever be the same but I chose to embrace the holiday rather than run from it. My visit to Santaland as an adult was a way of celebrating a happy childhood memory.

    To all of you dealing with the loss of a loved one this holiday season, may God bless you!

  31. Nellie  December 6, 2019 at 5:46 pm Reply

    This will be my second Christmas without my parents. My dad passed away suddenly on Nov 13,2018 and my mom on Dec 2, 2018. Her death was expected. She had been sick for quite awhile. People would think they were being comforting and say “at least they are together again.” It wasn’t comforting at all. They had been divorced for over 30 years. I don’t really remember much about last Christmas. I think I was still numb from all of it. And I knew I still had the task of cleaning out my mom’s house by the first of January. On January 20th of this year, I lost one of my brother’s suddenly also. I am trying hard to put on a brave face and act like everything is fine. But it is so hard. I was very fortunate and got to have my parents for 51 years. I just miss them so much

  32. Traci  November 21, 2019 at 11:01 am Reply

    I’ve always understood ‘someone out there has it worse than I’. Well here it is evident. I’m pretty lucky, parents aging, Mom died in June at 79, mother-in-law died 29 days before her so my husband and I are having first holiday without moms. I think they planned it that way so we could help one another.
    Some stories of loss here are much more. I cannot imagine losing a child or losing parents when I was much younger. Or one day being alone. I’m so sorry for all of you that were at a loss long before I was. I understand but don’t know exactly how you must feel.
    Anyone alone, please keep in touch if you wish. I agree – if you’re alone, there’s no need, anyone out here including myself could be your family!

    • Melissa  December 12, 2019 at 7:26 am Reply

      Thank you Traci for such kind words. This will be my first Christmas without my mother or my husband. I have no siblings or children. I am facing the fearful truth that I am now truly alone in this world. It’s sad and scary but life does go on.

  33. JoAnn olsonhill  November 1, 2019 at 5:19 pm Reply

    I just I no reason or no hope for the future what’s the point

    • Michael  December 26, 2022 at 5:17 pm Reply


      Life is a brief interruption of rest & sleep, which is out natural, normal & usual state-of-affairs. Your departed loved-one is alright, & is past the problems & ordeals of this life’s melee. Life is followed by well-deserved & welcome rest.

      Why not just do the things that you & she or he like to do? What better use of your time in this part of existence? Isn’t that what she or he wants for you?

  34. Todd  January 3, 2019 at 12:36 pm Reply

    I know how you feel, this was my third Holiday without my fiance. She passed away three years ago this last October with me holding her hand. This year was the hardest yet. It was surreal that she was not coming back and would not ever come back. I am not to big of a man to say that sat in my chair Christmas Eve and Christmas day staring at one of the many pictures I have of her and I together and cried like a baby. I hate the loneliness of the Holidays, the nights alone, and even weekends. Doing so many things by myself but I know unless someone has been through this they do not understand someone breaking down when they hear a song on the radio or smell a type of perfume. I just keep forcing myself to live everyday the best I can.

    • MaryAnn Ahrens  December 19, 2019 at 3:16 pm Reply

      About two weeks ago while driving in the car, I heard a Barry Manilow song. I’m not really a fan of his though he does have some really good songs, with some fabulous emotion behind them. One line got me. . . can’t even remember which song it was, but it was something about the people we will never see again. . . and I lost it big time. My Mom is gone since 2000, my brothers are both gone. . . and someone I loved for a very long time has passed. A friend died this year, an so many others . . . the thought of never seeing them again is devastating. So, I understand all of you and the pain in your hearts. <3

    • Ester  December 19, 2022 at 10:11 pm Reply

      Todd, I know what you mean and how you feel. I lost my wife this past Sept 30, 2022. She was only 52 and even though her health was not good we just did not know how bad it was until she passed of a sudden heart attack. I was with her when it happened and for a month after I lived in a daze. I use to tell others that I was taking it a second at a time because I just could not see a minute without her. I cry daily, I talk to her daily and let her know that I love her and always will. I know that I still have a long way to go and so much more to go through. I have days and then there are the days that are absolute madness. I want to scream and not stop, I want to cry and not stop but then there are times at the same time that I just want to stop. I don’t know what tomorrow brings for me or what may happen, but the holidays don’t have any meaning for me. I can fake it with those around me but I just don’t feel it. I feel lost and disconnected.

  35. Allie  December 23, 2018 at 11:01 pm Reply

    This is my 4th holiday without my husband. His birthday was 12/22, my kids are grown and out of the house. I haven’t had the energy to buy one present, put up a decoration, or attend one holiday party. I never anticipated this would get harder, but people forget. While I remember everyday, I celebrated his birthday and no one rememebered, it broke my heart and I feel more alone now than ever. I am so sad and miss him so much. No one in my life ever says his name, it’s like my life with him never happened. I can’t pretend, I’m going to stay home this year.

    • Cheryl  December 9, 2020 at 12:07 pm Reply

      I know this year it’ll be 6 years for you, and probably no-one remembering. I read your letter and I know how you feel. This is my 3rd year without my son. My sister, whose has her boys with her for every holiday, constantly calls me to tell me about presents she’s buying, her tree, etc. and bugging me to come for Christmas, which I’m not. It seems harder this year than last year. Probably because each year that goes by we, you and I, get lonelier, while other people bug us more to ” start living again “. I was planning on doing a tree this year, but I still can’t. Every ornament re.inds me of the past. I know I’m a stranger, but I know how you feel. Respond if you want to talk.

  36. Helen Tree  December 23, 2018 at 8:45 pm Reply

    I’ve been dreading this 2nd Christmas more than I remember last year. Yes it was a blur, yes I was numb with shock, now I just want to hide away.. I may just do that. I have my three of my four sons around and we may do breakky together. But right now, it’s so hard for me to be ‘ merry’ when the hole in me life seems so huge.
    Thank you for normalising this for me.. I wish all of us the best we can be,

  37. Kristen  December 21, 2018 at 12:07 am Reply

    Is there any research for me? I am grieving my 29th year after my mom died. 9 is my number. 9 when she died in 1989 and now it’s about to be 2019, (30 years on Jan 15th). My oldest child is 9 and seeing him experience the holidays makes me ache for the child I was the last year with my mom.

  38. Ashley  December 20, 2018 at 7:38 pm Reply

    This is my 2nd Christmas without my mom. As a young adult I do feel very responsible to try and pick up the pieces for my family and help out. It’s not only exhausting but still very sad and empty feeling. Everything is done as part of a process and doesn’t feel like it’s coming from the heart for the spirit of Christmas. I’ve been upset the entire month of December without realizing why and then it dawns on my that my subconscious is realizing Christmas is here again – the one holiday my mom loved so dearly. It will always be the most difficult and tiring time of the year for me.

  39. Janice  December 20, 2018 at 5:21 pm Reply

    This is going to be my 3rd Christmas without my Beloved Husband George. Just went through our Anniversary ( Dec 15) and His Birthday (Dec 18) . My 4 Siblings have already Passed away as well as both parents. I couldnt have children so it is just me and my dog . Each year gets harder to go through. Time Does NOT heal all wounds at least not for me. I put on the fake smile and pretend to be ok when I am around people and cry at my house.

    • Tanaria Carey  December 23, 2018 at 12:46 am Reply

      Janice, you are not alone. I will be your family! <3 I lost my mom Nov 6th, 2013 and even though I do have other family and children… I've never felt so alone and don't want you to feel that way either. I am here for you. 🙂 You just got yourself a new family! I know we could never replace anyone, just know there are others that do care for you… this goes for anyone who is lonely. Please reach out to me on facebook. <3 Tanaria Carey

  40. Josalyn  December 20, 2018 at 2:25 pm Reply

    Thank you to everyone who shared their stories. It’s one of those things where you almost feel like most people want you to just move on already. Or they don’t entirely understand the way it feels. This will be my fourth Christmas without my parents. They died 39 days apart and of two very rare cancers. My sisters and I make an attempt to make it special every year, we make sure we get together and smile, and share stories. But for each of us, this is the hardest time of year. My father battled in the icu over Christmas. I tried for many years to use this time to do something for the icu families. But it got to be something I began to dread. I am not a fan of going to that hospital. It still has an odd effect on me. But to all the families who are still having a hard time, year four although not as emotional, is still just as hard as last year, and the one before that. And grief is not the same for anyone. So you don’t have to feel like you need to feel any sort of way. Your loss is yours. And that love and that life, they were incredibly important.

  41. Angela Foley  December 20, 2018 at 10:29 am Reply

    My daughter passed on the 15/10/2016 so it’s the 3rd Christmas without her .. This time of years is the worst ever time and I hit an emotional low especially after the anniversary. Christmas Day I visit her favourite place, that’s my time with her I have done this each Christmas Day since she passed .. my son and his family understand, it may be that I will never celebrate it again in the old traditional way that we did ….. As hard as this may be for others , THIS IS MY GRIEF JOURNEY and I will honour my way …..

  42. Audra  December 20, 2018 at 9:38 am Reply

    I am going on year 6 and I think for me every Christmas is harder than the last. To me it is worse because it is even longer than the year before. It is horrible every day and it only gets worse

  43. sandy  December 20, 2018 at 9:14 am Reply

    this is my 3rd christmas without my Lydia. she took her life on january 20 2016. she was 23. I found her. gets harder and harder every year without her. people just do not understand. they think it gets better after a few years. life is Hell

  44. Kristy  December 20, 2018 at 8:58 am Reply

    This is 3rd christmas with out my brother since he took his life. Was Dec 15 2015. Besided the loss of my mother when I was 12 years old from a horrible car accident this was the 2nd worsed day of my life. This post was wonderdul and so true. The 1st holiday was hard but its been harder every year since. Seems every year it gets worse. And what even harder is how hard my children are taking it. Missing their uncle. I cant take their pain away which is killing me. My brother was my best friend and the only person that truly knew me.

    • Lindaford  December 20, 2018 at 11:39 am Reply

      This is my first Christmas without my brother. He also took his life. July 9, 2018. I miss him so much. And like you , he was my best friend. I vidoe chatted with him everyday for years. We lived miles apart. He was the only person that also truly knew me. And never once in our journey through life judged me. I am just so lost. Thinking of you and your brother this holiday. Blessed Be.

  45. Barbara Merolli  December 20, 2018 at 7:47 am Reply

    My husband passed 18 years ago at the holiday time of year, and the holidays have never gotten any better. The best of the worst were when I made solo vacation trips to Australia and Uganda where I was able to soak in a hot tub in a tree house in the rain forest, and watch the sunrise over topi and buffalo in the wilderness. Staying local is the worst of the worst– I’ve never found any way of making it better. My friends and family are very understanding but it is impossible to convey that this “new normal” will never feel completely right and whole and fulfilled.

  46. Tami  December 20, 2018 at 7:28 am Reply

    In July 2005 my dad passed away unexpectedly, a long sad but beautiful weekend. My mom had advanced cancer at this time. Dec. 2005 my divorce came through ending a 25 year marriage that had been verbally & emotionally abusive. We have 3 sons that were the only blessing from that marriage. In Jan. 2009 my dearest last living grandmother passed away. My mom passed in April 2009. My youngest son was killed in a hit & run on Mar. 2013. He was 24, married almost 2 years & they hava a beautiful 8 year old daughter. My other 2 sons & their wives are supportive & love close, I am blessed with 5 grandchildren. I’ve remarried, though my husbands 2 daughters wint talk to him & have cut off the family, even though his wife had passed away. 🙁 . It’s the 5th Christmas without my youngest & I’m having a tough time but I keep doing for the others & I know I’m blessed by it too. I don’t overscheduled & I take time for myself knowing these times are needed for me. I know my loved ones are with my youngest son in Heaven & they celebrate Christmas & Easter every day!:) . I am only able to keep going & knowing I’ll see them again. Because of my faith inability very BIG loving Father. Merry Christmas.

  47. Claire  December 2, 2018 at 8:43 pm Reply

    I think of this as the first Christmas without our beautiful son when actually it’s the second as he died on Christmas Eve last year but I don’t remember a single thing about last Christmas Day except we had the police at our house as our son was killed after been hit from behind by a car while riding his bike.
    I’ve cried every day since but there’s just something about the holidays that doesn’t make it worse(it can’t get any worse) but seems to magnify the grief as everyone gets on with this happy time.
    Today my neighbours put their lights up outside and soon everyone on our small cul de sac will except us and I’m dreading it, the family that hates Christmas.
    I’d like to go away but my daughter has to work and I wouldn’t leave her alone so I guess we’ll just hide away. What do you do when you have no tree, no presents to open, no turkey to cook and have told all family and friends not to visit us, oh and we can’t bear to watch any Christmas tv. Wish I could just stay in bed until January.
    My best friend has had it worse, two years ago on Dec 22nd her mum died suddenly, she found her lying on the floor, then on Boxing Day her 16 year old dog died, then last year she was with us throughout our nightmare and this year her 19 year old niece is in the final stages of terminal cancer and is not expected to survive to the new year. Life can be so cruel and never taken for granted.

    • Erin  December 14, 2018 at 12:19 am Reply

      Dear Claire,
      I wanted to say thank you for being brave enough to share what you and your loved ones have been through. What happened to your son should never happen – to a child or a parent. I have also been dreading this time of year, as Christmas reminders are everywhere and it’s the last time I saw my Dad and Grandma, half of my little family and my heart. I wondered why it seems harder this year, as it’s technically the second year, and stumbled upon this article. While I realize I haven’t suffered through a loss like yours, I also recognize that each of us is grieving heavily, and you are absolutely right – we can’t take this life for granted. I will hold you in my heart especially right now. Please take care and be kind to yourself.

  48. Marianne boykin  December 27, 2017 at 4:27 pm Reply

    This was the third Christmas since my mother died and the 14th Christmas since my father died. I am 53 years old, I have two grown daughters and five grandchildren. This Christmas I woke up crying wanting nothing more than one more Christmas with my parents. I wanted to go to their house, to be the child instead of the adult just one more time. I remembered how happy my dad would be when we arrived (never mind that we saw him multiple times a week). My grief took me by surprise. I’m not sure if there will ever be a Christmas that I don’t miss my parents and the child I used to be.

  49. Marianne boykin  December 27, 2017 at 4:27 pm Reply

    This was the third Christmas since my mother died and the 14th Christmas since my father died. I am 53 years old, I have two grown daughters and five grandchildren. This Christmas I woke up crying wanting nothing more than one more Christmas with my parents. I wanted to go to their house, to be the child instead of the adult just one more time. I remembered how happy my dad would be when we arrived (never mind that we saw him multiple times a week). My grief took me by surprise. I’m not sure if there will ever be a Christmas that I don’t miss my parents and the child I used to be.

  50. Mandy Matthee  December 21, 2017 at 8:47 am Reply

    I’ve lost my mom, 28/11/2014. My dad 14/3/2016 and my hubby 24/10/2016. It was all to soon, to quick. My hubby’s funeral were on 29/10/2016. I’ve turned 50 on 28/10/2016. Our 10th wedding anniversy were on 11/11/2016. Since my mom passed, time started flying and there are lots of things that I don’t remember. We bought our house February 2014. Moved in October 2014. We were so so happy, because it’s got a granny flat and my dad came to stay with us! I’ve resigned after 30yrs service in the Department of Justice. We started fixing up the old house (big old lady), from garden to painting, etc. My parents were divorced, so my mom lived in another town. On 10 October 2014, the hospital called, to say we must come, mom is not doing well. That same day, it was my dad’s 70th birthday and the next day, the moving company were to bring our furniture. As we walked out of the hospital, I knew it was the last time, I saw my mom. Long story short, today, its just me, my dog and cat. And YES!!!, the Holidays don’t get any easier.

  51. Mandy Matthee  December 21, 2017 at 8:47 am Reply

    I’ve lost my mom, 28/11/2014. My dad 14/3/2016 and my hubby 24/10/2016. It was all to soon, to quick. My hubby’s funeral were on 29/10/2016. I’ve turned 50 on 28/10/2016. Our 10th wedding anniversy were on 11/11/2016. Since my mom passed, time started flying and there are lots of things that I don’t remember. We bought our house February 2014. Moved in October 2014. We were so so happy, because it’s got a granny flat and my dad came to stay with us! I’ve resigned after 30yrs service in the Department of Justice. We started fixing up the old house (big old lady), from garden to painting, etc. My parents were divorced, so my mom lived in another town. On 10 October 2014, the hospital called, to say we must come, mom is not doing well. That same day, it was my dad’s 70th birthday and the next day, the moving company were to bring our furniture. As we walked out of the hospital, I knew it was the last time, I saw my mom. Long story short, today, its just me, my dog and cat. And YES!!!, the Holidays don’t get any easier.

  52. Dee cochran  December 21, 2017 at 7:59 am Reply

    2nd year was much harder for me losing my mother. It was a double whammy bc I had never really allowed my only sibling’s death to be acknowledged bc my mother couldn’t bear it. My dad died unexpectedly Christmas Day in 1971. We have no children – I hold my breath to get through Christmas and try to focus on Jesus leaving heaven to walk among men . It’s just hard . But we know we have a good , good father who loves us l

  53. Dee cochran  December 21, 2017 at 7:59 am Reply

    2nd year was much harder for me losing my mother. It was a double whammy bc I had never really allowed my only sibling’s death to be acknowledged bc my mother couldn’t bear it. My dad died unexpectedly Christmas Day in 1971. We have no children – I hold my breath to get through Christmas and try to focus on Jesus leaving heaven to walk among men . It’s just hard . But we know we have a good , good father who loves us l

  54. Betty Lewis  December 20, 2017 at 5:09 pm Reply

    My beautiful 19 year old daughter passed away on July 18,2017? I tried to make it through thanksgiving but that was horrible ? Now Christmas feels like a nightmare that has a unwanted cheery side? I bawled like a baby when my boys took a pic with wants with their sisters picture ?? this holiday is beyond terrible ?? I can’t stand that a wasp took my child from me?? doesn’t seem right to celebrate without Macayla here?? our Christmas tree is just standing bare in the room! I can’t bring myself to decorate it

  55. Betty Lewis  December 20, 2017 at 5:09 pm Reply

    My beautiful 19 year old daughter passed away on July 18,2017? I tried to make it through thanksgiving but that was horrible ? Now Christmas feels like a nightmare that has a unwanted cheery side? I bawled like a baby when my boys took a pic with wants with their sisters picture ?? this holiday is beyond terrible ?? I can’t stand that a wasp took my child from me?? doesn’t seem right to celebrate without Macayla here?? our Christmas tree is just standing bare in the room! I can’t bring myself to decorate it

  56. Autumn Williams  September 10, 2017 at 9:02 pm Reply

    My husband of 51 years died 12/4/16. The family were here for Christmas. This coming Christmas i truly want to be alone and BE with my hubby if only in spirit.How do I tell my kids I dont want to fly to visit them or for them to fly here? i want to be ALONE. I am doing pretty well but December is a bad month for me. His birthday was Dec 10 and mine the 11th. I dont want to decorate or fake it. I just want to wallow in my grief if only for the day. I truly want to cry and feel this sorrow. We were a team. Always and forever. Our 31 year old daughter died in a car accident and that was terrible too but I had him! The other kids are great but i would have to put on a happy face for them and grandchildren. Last year i was numb…wish i could be this year.

  57. Berry Akkermans  December 18, 2016 at 5:38 pm Reply

    Last Christmas (2015) was the first Christmas we had without our daughter Maartje (14) and it was painfull, we lived in a bad dream…..We still live in a bad dream, are not thinking of Christmas 2016 at all. We are receiving Christmas cards and wishes but we lay them aside. We are making our own plans and stay at home, my wife is working as a nurse during the Christmas days. We are not planning to put up the decorations at all, only at our daughters grave we have 2 small christmas tree,s and light decorations. Thats how we feel ourselves comfortable. Maartje took her own life and most of the time it,s still unbelievable for me. We just take it day by day, and so the Christmas holidays are not prepared in any way. We will see what comes!

  58. Tc  December 15, 2016 at 8:25 am Reply

    Thanks for this. Mom passed away last summer so last Christmas was very painful. I thought maybe it would be better this year but dad passed away in June. This year will be a second and a first. They were both older but it still hurts deeply, they loved and celebrated the Holidays. On top of that this is the first year that neither of our daughters and families will be here. It’s just hard to feel good right now.

  59. Lou  December 14, 2016 at 6:33 pm Reply

    This is my 2nd Christmas without my only daughter. I thought last year was bad but I’m an emotional wreck and have been for several weeks now. Everywhere I turn there are cards for daughter and mother. People are talking about what to buy their children. I have no one. I miss her so much and the slightest mention makes me well up

  60. Annie  December 14, 2016 at 1:43 am Reply

    My sweet Mama passed away in September last year (2015). Yeah last Christmas was hard but was still very comforted by the thought she was no longer in pain, and sweet memories of the “Christmas Miracle of 2014” (that she survived her heart attack and CHF and was able to be home for Christmas on a pass from rehab hospital.
    This year it’s just plain hard. I haven’t been back to Oklahoma since Christmas last year. I’m filled with a mixture of anticipation (seeing family I love) and dread (at the gaping hole in my heart, and the fear that I will cry the whole time). My brother is selling his house to downsize and this will be our last Christmas there. It’s where so many of my cherished memories of times with our parents in their older years took place. (Dad passed in 2012) it’s weird to be in your 50’s and find yourself an “orphan”…

  61. Laura  December 13, 2016 at 3:40 pm Reply

    This is the first time I’ve been home for Christmas in 6 years so this is the first time in recent memory that I’ve been home for the build up to it. My brother passed away 16 years ago, right before Christmas 2000.

    I actually feel like I’ve moved past the rawest parts of grief; having a 7-yr-old to focus on keeps me thinking of her needs rather than my own which helps a lot during the holidays.

    My sister, my father and I can experience Christmas without the acute pain anymore but my mom’s emotions are like a roller coaster. We’re all walking on tip toes and trying to be extra positive to balance out her darkness but it’s really exhausting.

    She’s never put up our old decorations or old stockings again, and everything is new – we all go along with it to keep her as happy as possible but sometimes I wish she could see that although one child passed away, the rest of us are still here. I know my brother who passed loved life more than most people and I think he’d be sad to know that she can’t move on.

    I think I can see why Christmas away from the family was much easier; we’ll just keep smiling and trying extra hard to keep things calm until the season passes and my mum evens out again.

    • Litsa  December 13, 2016 at 8:26 pm Reply

      Hi Laura, I am so sorry – I am sure this has been so tough. One of the things that is so hard about grief is that what each family member needs can look so different. Did your family ever sit down and discuss their wants/needs for the holiday in advance? Most grieving families never do, but it can be a big help because it helps people articulate their own needs, but also to get a better understanding of what is behind others’ needs. It is also a great chance to decide together on what traditions stay/go, and also to establish new traditions that may involve honoring/remembering your brother. We have a post here that may be of help on thinking about that type of conversation and planning:

  62. Dana  December 13, 2016 at 2:54 pm Reply

    Third year without our daughter. I truly despise any holiday anymore. But I try so hard to do something for my other kids. It all hurts clear through to my aching soul. I get angry that I don’t have her, sad that things can’t be the way they once were…happy. And like other families. Seems like ours has fallen to pieces and everyone else is just moving right along. This is our new life. I wish it were a dream. And Christmas would be happy once again.

  63. gloria  December 13, 2016 at 2:14 pm Reply

    Just read my post from last year (my first w/out my daughter, Laura). I agree with most, the first year I was numb, in a fog. This year I am doing more, but then feeling very guilty right after, like I shouldn’t be happy, the holidays and life will never feel right without her here. This is my life now & I am trying to survive. I did put up a small “Laura” tree & am decorating it with all the cardinal ornaments I have gotten from wonderful & random people in my life. I know I am blessed & am forever grateful for the support of this blog, the articles & comments. Peace to all.

    • Litsa  December 13, 2016 at 8:33 pm Reply

      Gloria, I love the “Laura” tree – what a beautiful way to honor her during the holiday. It is hard not to feel that guilt you describe, but it is important to remember that what connects you to her is the love and memories, not the pain. It is okay to do things that bring some joy and comfort – it doesn’t mean you miss her any less! If you haven’t read this post, it might be worth a glance-

  64. Vikki  December 13, 2016 at 9:04 am Reply

    My husband left us November of 2010. I was very numb that year. November was also the the month my mom left us, the month Dan and I married, plus thanksgiving. Then came December, Dan’s birthday, our daughters birthday which was 2 days after his, and always celebrate together and Christmas. Yes this was a numbing time for me. As was several years, even though I had met someone who was great for me and helped me through all of this, and I married later. But this year, 6 years after he left seems to be my worst year yet for some odd reason. This year I have talked to him more, cried more and miss him more. I thought by now the hard years were behind me. I sure hope it gets better, not that I want to forget him, lord knows I won’t, but my mood really tanked this year and everyone noticed even though I tried to hid it. So here is hoping it gets easier with time, and it did till year 6. ?

  65. Maria Pelcastre  December 13, 2016 at 8:11 am Reply

    The first year is not the hardest for me the remain is because that when I realized he was not going to be hear any more with us . December is a hard month for me because the 6th is his birthday and the 27thvia when he was killed and the 31 is when laid him to rest only the good Lord knows how I get myself through this

    • Litsa  December 13, 2016 at 8:37 pm Reply

      Ah that is a lot to be coping with in one month. Sending good thoughts to you!

  66. Sharon  December 13, 2016 at 2:19 am Reply

    This is my first Christmas without my husband. He passed unexpectedly in May. As someone else said it very difficult losing 1/2 of yourself. I have buried an 8 year old daughter some years ago which was awful, then my father in 1997, then my Mom in 2013. And now my husband. I don’t think I can take much more.this “new life” is awful.

  67. Janis Hendrickson  December 12, 2016 at 11:49 pm Reply

    Thank you, knowing that I am not alone in this makes a huge difference. Friends and family don’t always understand my emotions. So glad to find some place that helps me feel a bit normal.

  68. Nancy Miracle  December 12, 2016 at 10:11 pm Reply

    This is the second Christmas without my mom. My moms niece came to spend Christmas with us and that helped a lot. Christmas night our house caught on fire and we lost everything. I wish my mom. Was here to give me a hug.

  69. Lisa Harry  December 12, 2016 at 9:48 pm Reply

    This will be the 3rd Christmas without my son. I can’t stop crying over every little thing…

  70. Karen Jones  December 12, 2016 at 8:13 pm Reply

    The third holiday had been harder than the other two. I’m not sure why but I feel more alone now that I did right after my mom passed away.

  71. Wyamah  December 12, 2016 at 7:46 pm Reply

    This is my second without my husband of 60 years. 1st year was in a fog. But 4 daughters surrounded Me with love. They were hurting too. This year I feel the loneliness.

  72. Donna  December 12, 2016 at 5:23 pm Reply

    My precious husband, my soulmate Duncan died day after Christmas 2015. He fought a brave 9 year battle with aggressive CLL Included a stem cell transplant @ MD Anderson. He loved the Lord & used his illness as a witness for salvation through Christ & comforted/prayed for all those met who were suffering. He adored me & adored him. It was a labor of love to help him. I miss his love, his hugs & kisses, the warmth of him next to me in our bed. He was Mr Fix It, loved antique/classic cars & of course our 5 year old grandson. He was my best friend. I miss all our traditions for every occasion especially Christmas. Now there’s an empty bed space, a dark & empty house. It’s hard to imagine it is almost a year, the last of my firsts & though I am trying to cope, it is intensely painful. Many people think I should be over it, be happy he’s in a better place. They avoid talking about. They don’t realize I have lost 1/2 of me & feel left out in a wolf of couples. I have made widowed friends as others have left & I feel comfort with family. I don’t think I will be healed in my second year. I miss him so

  73. Renee  December 12, 2016 at 2:08 pm Reply

    This year marks 16 holidays without my mom, 10 without my grandma, and 3 without my grandpa.. Nothing has been the same holidays birthdays or just everyday life.. There are even times I go to pick up the phone to call mom and remember I can’t.. I just try to remember to make the best of things paint a smile on my face at family gatherings and even be strong for my own kids and at the end of the day everything will be OK..

  74. Ann Sheedy  December 12, 2016 at 12:58 pm Reply

    The second year is the worst. It doesn’t even start to get better until year 4. But you never forget, and when you shop, you see things he would have liked and it makes you remember him.

  75. Layne  December 12, 2016 at 12:27 pm Reply

    Thank you for this post. It’s been 11 years since I lost my dad. I was 15 when he died suddenly. I don’t think I had a true understanding of the holidays until he was gone and I had kids of my own to realize the lack of his presence around. He LOVED Christmas. He made it what it was when I was growing up. I miss him more now during the holidays then I have in the passing years. I don’t even remember the first holiday without him. I stayed on autopilot for a very long time. I always felt like he was away on business or vacation and he’d be back someday. My head and my hurt feel the hurt now the numbness has worn off. This post rings so true to me. So thank you, for saying it and making me feel like I’m not the only one who grieves years after the fact ❤️

  76. Christy  December 12, 2016 at 10:31 am Reply

    I couldn’t agree more. This year will be my 9th year without my mom. And so far it has been by far THE WORST one without her. :'(

  77. Abbey Colton  December 12, 2016 at 10:11 am Reply

    I lost my mama in January of this year. I k ew it would be hard. But I didn’t know the anger and deep depression I would experience. She was my best friend. I feel completely lost without her. People have been walking in eggshells around mW since she passed because they all knew how close we were. Nor that I so r appreciate the gesture, but I kind of qiah everyone would just act normal. It just makes or harder. Knowing I have this black cloud over me. Everywhere I go people ask how I am with this sad voice like they’re talking to a 4 year old. No. I’m not OK. Yes I miss her and cry a lot. But does everyone have to announce it when they see me? I’m dealing with my pain. I go to work and smile and laugh. Then I come home and cry and wallow. My husband has been so wonderful to me. But I know he’s tired of it. If people would just treat me like they did before, maybe it would help.

  78. Renita Demarest  December 11, 2016 at 9:36 pm Reply

    I’m praying for you Deb. I lost my dad when we were having Christmas. It never gets easier, and I don’t expect it to. My mom is gone too, now, and it ‘s worse. We still have wonderful holidays with our kids and grand kids, but it will never be the same without them .

  79. Meredith  December 11, 2016 at 8:05 pm Reply

    Third Christmas without my Man and I have made an effort to make it better for someone else and hope it translates. This will be the first year since kids that I won’t be spending Christmas with them or with my Mum who passed away this year. I think it maybe time for them to make their own traditions. Also, I get to spend Christmas with my sister who has always been there to help me through – we have had lots of Christmases together but I have never spent Christmas in her home – because she is so looking forward to me being there, I am now looking forward to seeing her and doing Christmas a little differently. I have also met someone special and will stop my travels to spend time with him and have an early Christmas Dinner together. Sure, it won’t be the same – I’ll miss my late husband and Mum, my kids and my home but if I keep an open mind and be ready to enjoy myself I think I just might get through again. At least the long car trip will give me that grieving time I missed , to have a cry, think of my husband and my Mum and hopefully just be thankful that I had them for other Christmases.

  80. Lori  April 16, 2016 at 5:53 pm Reply

    My Dad died unexpectedly three days before Christmas. My daughter, who I hadn’t seen in a year, was flying in for the holidays. Christmas dinner for 20 was planned for my house. And in between all that there was Mom to take care of and funeral arrangements to make. I shuffled my grief somewhere offstage so I could focus on getting things done. The day after the funeral I put my daughter on a plane and thought, now I will go home and cry. But the tears never came. I just felt numb. It didnt seem real. Now, four months later the numbness is starting to crack. I can cry sometimes but not often. I got through Dad’s birthday by working on repairs at my parent’s home. I didn’t want Mom to be alone but also didn’t want to spend the day an emotional wreck. I’m really not looking forward to Fathers Day.

  81. Robin  January 8, 2016 at 11:06 pm Reply

    My friend died in December 2013. That was horrible, Iearned of his death on 12/20. Last year was somewhat better, probably because I was relieved that his family finally buried him in September (don’t ask). This year was not good. I thought it would be OK. Went to his grave, had a cigarette with him, all was well. Then I went to a Philadelphia Orchestra concert of the Messiah. My first visit to the orchestra was with him, we went a lot, and I had not been to the orchestra since he died. I decided to go see the Messiah because I had always wanted to and we had planned to but never got around to it. I cried through the entire thing. All the untied ends concerning his death came flooding back, the coulda woulda shoulda hit full force, the fact that his death was utterly inevitable and totally avoidable, during the two hour concert I was able to come up with whole new lines of thought to be upset about… The rest of the Christmas season was a tear-filled depression pit. Every time I listened to Christmas music, which I love and loved long before I met him, I lost it. I vowed to keep on listening, because I didn’t want to not be able to listen to Christmas music for the rest of my life. Once Christmas was over I was OK, but I’m thinking this may be the wave of the future. I have to come up with a way of being at peace with the things I don’t know about his death.

  82. Janet Gibson  January 6, 2016 at 1:11 pm Reply

    My daughter Lorna left us one year ago January 24th. Christmas was the worst in my life. She leaves four children the youngest was five (six yesterday), I cant bear to see the kids without their mum, the youngest cries all the time, she is so weepy it breaks my heart. We tried to make an effort for the little ones but as soon as they left the decorations came down and the tree put away. Everywhere I look I am reminded of Lorna, I scream out loud to myself in the car and theres not one day since she went that I haven’t cried. I just can’t get used to the idea that I will never see her again, can’t believe she’s gone, I can’t believe its almost one year , it seems like yesterday . The worst part is, I think I expect others to feel the same as I do, but everyone else is getting on with their lives and I resent them for that I want them to feel the pain and emptiness, at the very least not to forget that she was here!!

    • Litsa  January 8, 2016 at 2:24 pm Reply

      Oh Janet, I am so sorry for your loss. I think so many grievers can relate to that horrible feeling that others are ‘moving on’ and that fear that it means your loved one will be forgotten. We write a lot about continuing bonds and the many wonderful ways that we can honor and remember those we have lost. If you haven’t read them, you may find some ideas and support in those posts. You can find them here

  83. Kym  January 4, 2016 at 12:41 am Reply

    I just couldn’t believe how hard this second Christmas and the lead up to and after it turned out to be. I received the most shocking telephone call about my boy’s death from a so called ‘friend’ at 3.15pm 23rd December, 2013. He handed the phone over to the paramedic to confirm my boy was actually dead and that it wasn’t a hoax telephone call. My son was 33 when he died, from multiple, complex causes, but that call and the way it was delivered still stuns me. We viewed his body at the Morgue on Christmas Eve for the very last time and I walked away from my boy for the very last time. In 16 months, my Dad died, my Son died and then my brother died. We are raising my son’s little boy (and were already doing this prior to my son’s death) and there are multiple complications associated with that situation. That said, I wouldn’t/couldn’t have it any other way. I can’t believe how very hard this Christmas has been and in hindsight (and after reading your article), how basically EVERYONE expects it to be easier. I wasn’t prepared for the devastating reality check of it starting to sink in that my boy is never coming back. How every anniversary, birthday, Christmas etc., takes me further away from a time when he was alive. I basically stopped looking after myself this Christmas, ended up very ill and am now trying to pull it all back together. Would I like things to be different? Yes. Would I like my son back? Yes. So somewhere, somehow I’m digging deep and will use every bit of ‘energy’ I can find to keep raising my child’s child, be the best mother I can to my living daughter and hold onto and cherish my wonderful husband who had no idea any of this would happen nearly 6 years ago when we first met.

    • Eleanor  January 4, 2016 at 1:30 pm Reply


      I’m so sorry for all the loss you’ve experienced. I wish you well in trying to get physically well. Your comment made me think of a post we’ve written in the past about when multiple losses occur in a short time period and I thought, if you haven’t heard of cumulative grief before, that you might find the topic interesting:

  84. Lee  January 1, 2016 at 3:04 am Reply

    Thank you for this. Lost my Dad May 2014. Grief comes and goes. This year definitely more difficult than last year. My mother-in-law also died 10 days after my Dad. My husband and I were in shock and my MIL’s death was a very traumatic event to witness. We both suffered with symptoms of PTSD for several weeks after witnessing her passing. She passed 5 days after we buried my Dad – no time to catch our breath, then did not have her funeral until September. I guess we were probably still in shock last Christmas. So much grief now, and other losses piling on top of those, which just bring those our even stronger sometimes. Been so hard on our marriage as we are both grieving and are challenged at times to be there for each other. Then when another loss hits (though not a death or as big of a loss), it sometimes triggers our parental loss grief. Starting to do some reading about cumulative grief. Just joined this site last night. Thanks again.

    • Litsa  January 2, 2016 at 11:03 pm Reply

      Oh Lee, it sounds like you have been through so much. I am not sure if you stumbled on this article yet, but if you didn’t you may want to check out this post on cumulative grief. Also, you may want to take a look at this post that is about the strain that grieving can put on families because people are grieing in different ways. I am glad you found our site and I hope you find some support here!

  85. Sherry  December 29, 2015 at 10:14 am Reply

    It’s weird for me, but Christmas was not terribly hard after my mother died. Maybe because it was always a rush of running to this family or that, or that extended family often made Christmas miserable, when I was growing up. For me, Thanksgiving, missing the shared day of cooking, and Mother’s Day, for obvious reasons, were the most difficult, and remain so, 10 years later. I find that the “pass” has long since expired, and I have to go hide for awhile on those days to have a good cry. The important thing is that grief does not completely continue to rule your life as time passes, but that you allow yourself to grieve when it’s needed.

  86. Mark  December 27, 2015 at 10:17 pm Reply

    I think part of it is crossing the new year without your loved one. My first Christmas we survived. Moving on to 2009 without my daughter was a significant change, the line in our life that we measure before and after.

  87. Kristen Rudder  December 27, 2015 at 11:53 am Reply

    Within the last eight years, Grief and I have become intimately acquainted, without any polite invitation or proper introduction cushioning me – My father and both of my younger brothers died, separated by barely enough time for me to mistakenly believe I could lock some invisible door and catch my breath. The first holiday is really the easiest, in many ways, because I believed that old, familiar saying: Time surely will heal such horrific wounds. I now know what is MY truth: That I so love my father and brothers, no matter how or when and without any limitations or boundaries, or how many days or years or special days may pass – Grief may hide itself each and every holiday, let It come. When It does, I know now to LET IT BE, and breathe. It validates how real and true and steadfast I love my father and brothers.

  88. Debbie  December 26, 2015 at 11:55 am Reply

    I just wanted to be alone, my sister died in May but the celebration of life was not till September which was salt in the wound! My oldest sister admits how sad she is and I am grateful we can talk about it. My brother in law is a problem to me… He acts like only he lost our sister. He expects us to always call him. He is pissed at my daughter for not being there often enough… She is 30 no car and usually no money but he does not offer to help her. He is just mad she has not paid back 400$ I worried about him most this first round of holidays. Thanks for all the good Input I will continue to just send him cards and call occasionally he won’t take my sisters voice off the message machine

    • Litsa  December 28, 2015 at 8:43 am Reply

      Debbie, it can be so hard when everyone is grieving and looking for support from each other, when we often all grieve differently and aren’t in a good place to support each other. Has he consider a support group for those who have lost a spouse? That may give him others to connect with rather than just your family.

  89. Pamela  December 26, 2015 at 10:53 am Reply

    And sorry for all the typos… So hard to type when you cry. Hugs

  90. Pamela  December 26, 2015 at 10:51 am Reply

    Year two…it is so nice to know that I am normal. Married 30 years, lost my husband Nov 12, 2014. It is also the day our only daughter was born. He passed away on her birthday. He fought hard ti stay alive until she arrived. He had to wish her happy birthday, after all she was daddy’s girl.
    This past year, on Father’s day, the announcement made. I was going to be a grandmother. Two little girls due Valentine’s day. But the girls decided they were not waiting around. November 11, the day their grandfather had fought so hard to stay alive one year ago, they were arrived- emergency C-section. All about them in the neonatal intensive care unit, I felt his presence. He was helping them to fight, to stay alive just like their grandfather had one year ago.
    Yesterday my gift, I got to spent a few hours with our granddaughters. Little fighters, now up to three lbs now, getting stronger day by day. Just like me…one day at a time. The cycle of life…crazy, bittersweet, heart breaking and joyful all at the same time.
    Yep…last year was a blur. But as strange as it may sound, I am okay with all the hurt I have felt holiday season. I was and remain blessed. Still loved and not half as crazy as I thought. Thanks for sharing everyone and allowing me to share with you. And to all our guardian angels… are missed and will always be loved.

  91. Vicki  December 25, 2015 at 3:05 pm Reply

    The only thing I can say is I know someone who died on Christmas Day, 1999. It was my ex mother-in-law but not at the time.
    I called in to ask how she was and he said she died that morning. Almost nothing went right in my life in 1999.
    The only thing I can do is remember her here:

    Jacqueline M. Correa

  92. gloria  December 25, 2015 at 10:26 am Reply

    I hope you wil repost this yearly as I know it is true. If you have one or two people in your life that support & remember, you are blessed. As I live this new sad life, without my daughter & husband, I too wonder Helen, will I ever be truly happy again. I find any happiness I do find is immediately colored by, “Laura/Steve is not here to see, hear, or experience it.” And don’t give me the ” they are always with you”. They are not HERE, I can’t hug or hold them. Peace everyone.

  93. Helen  December 25, 2015 at 4:17 am Reply

    Your comments on the second year holiday grief seem right on. My situation is that my husband died unexpectantly after surgery five days before Christmas. Our anniversary was three days after is death. Christmas eve was spent making his cremation arrangements. The closeness of these events make to Christmas has made this time of year even more sad. Will I ever be truly happy again?

  94. Pat  December 24, 2015 at 10:48 pm Reply

    The 2nd year is realizing the loss is real. Thanks for saying what I’ve been feeling.

  95. Gail  December 24, 2015 at 10:21 pm Reply

    This is my second year without my husband. It has definitely been harder in many ways. Today I went onto his Dropbox account and started downloading all of his pics on my computer. It has been therapeutic for me and has definitely kept me a little sane. I abhor this “new” life. One of my very good friends lost her husband in September.

  96. Keli Burfield  December 24, 2015 at 10:13 pm Reply

    Third Christmas without Mom and this may indeed be the hardest yet. Part of it is that my husband and I have had so many other losses this year-his aunt, friends, former parishioners and a parishioner in our present church that became very dear to us in a very short amount of time. The other part is my 92 year old mother-in-law who is becoming more and more difficult to deal with. Oh, how I wish I could just pick up the phone and call Mom. And even though I don’t wish my husband’s mother was gone, it seems unfair that my sweet and kind and funny and loving mother (who was fifteen years younger) is no longer with us. I take comfort in the meaning of Christmas and knowing I will see Mom again but that doesn’t seem to be bringing as much comfort this year. Three days ago I was ambushed by grief at WalMart. I noticed a young mother with her two young daughters, about the same age difference as my sister and I. She was holding the younger with the older in the cart saying “Mommy, hold me. Mommy, hold me.” It brought back a flood of memories and maybe something about the words themselves. She went on and I burst into tears. So thank you for this post-I needed the reassurance that sometimes the third year is tougher than might be expected.

    • Rhonda Reece  December 12, 2016 at 12:18 pm Reply

      This is my 2nd without my mother and 6th without my father .. very hard as first ! After mother passed I too lost it in Walmart at the coffee aisle .. she always wanted me to check the price .. and of course if in sale to get it to go with her other 5 cans .. the little things still jump out and hurts so bad .. especially Christmas ! She loved Christmas ! Just gets harder it seems .. bless you on these holidays !

      • Elaine Foust  December 14, 2016 at 11:40 am

        I lost my mother 12 years ago to Alzheimers and my father 10 years ago to Diabetes. I miss them every day. But my holidays are spent happily with the family I have left. I have three grown children, 13 grandchildren, and two great grandchildren. My twin daughters’ father died on Christmas day at the age of 42. We have a few sad moments when we think about those we have lost, we talk about them–Nanny would have loved this or that, remember when Poppy played Santa. Things like that help to keep them “alive” in our hearts. Life is definitely for the living and we need to go on for each other. I still have a lot of anger for the disease that took my mother and I have been grieving her loss since she no longer knew me or our family. It is hard, but I keep looking at those I have left and how much I love them and they love me, so I continue to stay strong for them, not so much for me.

  97. Carol  December 24, 2015 at 10:05 pm Reply

    This is my 6th Christmas without my hubby. Still hard. No j don’t cry(as often)but the sadness will always be there. We were married 42 yrs so in some part it will always be tough

  98. Patti  December 24, 2015 at 9:34 pm Reply

    I thought if I can survive all of the firsts, the next time would be less horrible. Nope. I kept thinking Ok, I’ve survived a year. Time to get my real life and beloved husband back. I couldn’t use our holiday decorations, had to buy new. The second yr i couldnt use the ‘first without him’ stuff. This is the 16th Christmas without him and I hate it just as much as the first. Saddest of all for our 3 sons not having their dad.

  99. Jane  December 24, 2015 at 9:34 pm Reply

    This third holiday and a full moon has really kicked me in the tummy. It is true everyone is there in the beginning. Now on one.

  100. sandra  December 24, 2015 at 5:46 pm Reply

    Im 15 months in, second xmas without my partner henry. i ind this year worse than last year. last year my kids went with their dad ( i told them i would be ok ) and i slept and cried through all of it. this year they are going to their dads too ( he has them xmas day afternoon ) and im gonna work through the holidays. i found last year i was in a fog but this year the fog has lifted. i realize he isnt coming back, he wont be here for any more christmases or birthdays or for new years. the reality has hit me like a ton of bricks. i went for a walk at 3 am last night, dont know why, maybe just looking for answers. i didnt find any. i wish you all to find some peace and joy this xmas. ill be ok. its just not easy.

  101. Shelly  December 24, 2015 at 5:18 pm Reply

    My family pretty much sucks. My dad passed in July & he was my world. This is my first Christmas without him and no one has contacted me at all in the last few months. The hardest part of all this for me was realising he was all the family we had. He was the only one that cared. All my family are celebrating & enjoying and we are all alone. But its just made us build strength & helped us realise that we need to fight for us. We’re doing it all different this year.

    • Ronnie mac  December 12, 2016 at 4:48 am Reply

      Shelly I hope this Christmas is a little easier on u god bless ?

  102. Lulu  December 24, 2015 at 5:03 pm Reply

    Jeff passed away in December of 2013 . When Christmas came it was a blur I remember I felt I was floating just waiting for the pain to come rushing through me. I cant remember last year. This year is better I feel no pain. I do miss him so much still.

    Christmas Wish

    Holidays are here! Time for wishes and cheer
    I know what’s on my Christmas list this year,
    one way ticket to paradise have Jeff near.

    An Angel arrived on Christmas Day
    and said hold on tight watch the wings
    don’t be eager Jeff will be waiting behind the trees
    see those birds? There he will appear.

    The wind is blowing something fierce,
    amazing ride twists and hoops
    turns my hair a fright this isn’t right!
    I must look nice Jeff will be here.

    Can’t hang on!!
    Started to slide

    The Angel left me behind with a feather in my hand
    he yelled “use it for your rhymes it’s not your time
    your ticket has been declined”.

    Look below your family and friends await your smile
    they had a Christmas wish too and you was YOU!
    Don’t be a fool it’s the rules.


  103. tracy russell  December 24, 2015 at 4:47 pm Reply

    Thank you so much for this post. I only wish I had read it before picking a fight with my partner because I don’t want to admit I’m not coping. This is year 2 for me. I lost my Dad in the latter part of last year & we had people rallying round last Xmas. This year the phone hasn’t even rung & I feel very alone. Loved ones are out enjoying themselves & I want to scream! I miss my Dad. I still can’t believe he’s gone. The emptiness in my parent’s house is deafening & my Mum is totally lost but we’re supposed to be getting on with it & be happy “cos it’s Christmas”.

  104. Bette  December 24, 2015 at 4:07 pm Reply

    So true my third year without my husband . Christmas Eve sitting alone heavy heart but it’s ok . Sometimes worse with family ! Alone is alone

    • Debra Johnson  December 11, 2016 at 2:02 pm Reply

      My husband of 45 years passed on November 19th 2015…..the holidays came and I was numb and everything was a blur. Now I am facing the 2nd Christmas and it feels like I have been on pain medication and it is now wearing off. Reality is in full force and I feel more pain and loss. I am quickly learning how to say no …. sometimes I cannot even wrap my mind around the truth because of the pain in my heart.

    • Cindy  December 12, 2016 at 5:11 pm Reply

      Bless you for this article!! I thought it was just me! This is the third Christmas without my only son and it’s killing me. Parents who have never experienced a loss of a child have no clue what we have to deal with on a daily basis!
      This Christmas holiday season has been exceptionally hard!

      • Kathy  December 12, 2016 at 8:19 pm

        Cindy, my heart goes out to you. This is the first year I am without my daughter. She passed a few months ago after a hard battle with metastatic breast cancer at age 40. and I do understand. She was my only daughter. There is no word that describes that pain. I definitely believe that we will be reunited someday. I am trying to focus on my Blessings God has given me. I have a son and grandson which is my daughters son and he looks just like her. It still cuts deeply not having her here, and am trying. I don’t feel the joy as I used to during these holidays. Don’t know if I ever will. So many things goes threw your mind. So hard. Praying for you and all parents who belong to ‘this club who did not ask to join.

      • Valerie Nemeth  December 13, 2017 at 11:48 pm


      • Valerie Nemeth  December 14, 2017 at 2:24 pm

        What I meant is call for further RESEARCH to hopefully CURE it once and for all

      • Darlene  December 12, 2016 at 8:46 pm

        This is my third year without my son also. It’s so hard no one understands. People say it gets easier but it gets harder every year the longer I don’t see him the harder it is. People that try to tell me that has never has lost a child so I tell them then don’t talk or see your child for three years and see how you are. I keep praying for something anything to help me it’s not come yet. I just keep praying. God told me he has my son so one day I will see him again.

      • Yvonne  December 18, 2016 at 12:37 pm

        Bless you Cindy. This is the 8th without my oldest son, and I do believe years 2-4 were the worst. The first year I just couldn’t function at all, but my younger sons were still living at home. One took the initiative, with his girlfriend to climb into the attic, pull down decorations, put up a tree, etc. He hung up the stockings, and the family put notes in Casey’s over the next several days that we attached to balloons to “send” to him after Christmas. My husband cooked on the grill for Christmas dinner, and the dog and I stayed in bed most of the day because I just couldn’t stop crying. After that, I saw my doctor to start an antidepressant, before having to deal with the trial of his murderer in year two. But the years that followed the expectations of the extended family were higher, like we should be “over it”. I assure you that you never get over losing a child, but their memories start bringing you more joy than pain in time, I am just so thankful for the time we had. In year 7 I had my young nephew living with me, for his sake I climbed into the attic and pulled out the decorations, and was able to do so again this year without feeling overwhelming dread for the first time. Maybe we can get out Christmas cards in year 9, but I’m not making any promises.

    • Sandra Espy  December 12, 2016 at 5:48 pm Reply

      This one is harder than last, and I thought it was just me not trying hard enough. I lost my husband of 41 years in February 2015, and it seems to be getting harder. He was 92 years and had multiple health problems including Alzheimer’s and I know he is better off. I just still can’t figure out how to get on with my life without him. Thanks for listening.

    • CAROL TRIPODI  December 15, 2016 at 9:41 pm Reply

      I thought it was just me, but this helped me understand what has been happening to me & my Husband. We lost our beautiful Daughter to addiction in August 2015. We made it thru that Christmas but it was a blur? This year reality has set in so badly. I don’t want to be morbid BUT I know now that we must & somehow will go on, but life is never going to be the same? Maybe that is a baby step towards healing? I do believe she is in God’s hands but my heart aches that we couldn’t save her from herself! Prayers to everyone who is grieving their loved one. God Bless You..

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