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

Eleanor and I had been feeling like we had said just about everything there was to say about grieving at the holidays and then yesterday 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 who just assumed that by year 2 the holidays should be a whole lot easier.  Suddenly we realize, no, we had not yet posted about everything because we have never written about that!  Today’s post will be short and sweet, but I felt like someone needed to say one thing loud and clear before Christmas and New Year’s are upon us: the first holidays are NOT always the worst.  Sometimes they are, sometimes they are not, but 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.

Though there can be a zillion reasons year 2+ may be worse than year 1, a couple big factors come to mind:

  1. 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, so as hard as it was your mind and body may have still been in a shocked state, protecting you just a bit as you muddled through the holidays.
  2. You cut yourself a break during the first holidays.  We know it will be hard and people will (hopefully) be understanding, so it is easier to say no to certain events, skip certain traditions and find support around us.  By holiday 2 we may be finding it harder to say no in the same way.  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!
  3. 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, during which others are most 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.
  4. The holidays stop being polite and start getting real.  On our facebook page several people commented that the 2nd year was when it became 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, but 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 one, but it can hit us like a ton of bricks in year 2, 3 or even beyond.
  5. You thought you would be in a better place this year.  During holiday 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, but we 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: you are not alone, you are 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 and gratitude along way.

As always, leave a comment to let us know your thoughts.  How was your first holiday?  How is your holiday this year?

Read More:

December 20, 2017

90 responses on "Holiday Grief: When The First Holiday Is NOT The Worst Holiday"

  1. Allie,
    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.

  2. 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.

  3. 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,

  4. 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.

  5. 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.

  6. 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.

    • 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

  7. 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.

  8. 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 …..

  9. 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

  10. 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

  11. 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.

    • 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.

  12. 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.

  13. 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.

  14. 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.

    • 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.
      Yours,
      Erin

  15. 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.

  16. 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.

  17. 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

  18. 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

  19. 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.

  20. 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!

  21. 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.

  22. 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

  23. 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”…

  24. 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.

    • 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: http://www.whatsyourgrief.com/dealing-with-grief-during-the-holidays-plan/

  25. 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.

  26. 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.

  27. 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. ?

  28. 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

  29. 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.

  30. 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.

  31. 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.

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

  33. 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.

  34. 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.

  35. 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

  36. 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..

  37. 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.

  38. 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 ❤️

  39. 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. :'(

  40. 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.

  41. 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 .

  42. 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.

  43. 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.

  44. 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.

  45. 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!!

    • 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 http://www.whatsyourgrief.com/?s=Continuing+bonds

  46. 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.

  47. 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.

  48. 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.

  49. 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.

  50. 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.

  51. 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

    • 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.

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

  53. 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…..you are missed and will always be loved.

  54. 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
    7/4/33–12/25/99

  55. 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.

  56. 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?

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

  58. 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.

  59. 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.

    • 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 !

      • 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.

  60. 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

  61. 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.

  62. 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.

  63. 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.

  64. 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.

  65. 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.

    Lulu

  66. 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”.

  67. 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

    • 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.

    • 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!

      • 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.

      • 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.

      • 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.

    • 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.

    • 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..

Leave a Message

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Disclaimer

WYG provides general educational information from mental health professionals, but you should not substitute information on the What’s Your Grief website for professional advice.

See our terms and conditions here

See our privacy policy here

National Suicide Prevention Hotline

National Suicide Prevention Hotline - 1-800-273-8255

PhotoGrief

Share Your Snapshot

Grief In 6 Words

Submit a Story to Us

What's Your Grief Podcast

Listen to our podcast

top