Holidays and Mourning

The holidays are the toughest time of year for people who are in mourning.  I have heard this before, but I can’t recall ever really seeing it.  When my grandparents died, they were very elderly, so I guess my mother was well-prepared for their loss.  As well as you can be anyway.  It probably helped that my grandparents both died in April, so she’d had plenty of time to digest it before Thanksgiving and Christmas rolled around.  My father-in-law passed away in October, and the emotions are still raw for Mike and his mother, Cathy.

I feel his absence as well.  Something is off about having Cathy here by herself.  If it feels strange to us, it must be much more so to her.  She’s trying to navigate her life alone while living in a place where all her children are far away.  No one can just drop in on her impromptu.  We can’t invite her over for Sunday dinner.  All we can do is pick up the phone and call her regularly.

So we are doing all we can.  We had her down for Thanksgiving.  It made me realize how little I am able to see from my weekly phone calls.  It’s not that I expect her to pull herself together.  I know I’d be no better off if I were deprived of Mike.  But holy cow, it is really tough to see someone you love hurting like that and feel so helpless in the face of it.

Mike’s been trying hard to soldier on himself.  He is carrying a lot of burdens.  He’s mourning his father, but he’s also having to work hard at his job because of the possibility of his plant closing.  And he still has to be a father, to a little one far too young to comprehend what he’s going through.  I think he’s just been trying to compartmentalize and only think about what he has to in order to get through it.  Seeing his mother, visiting his parents’ home, being given some of his Dad’s things, it’s all bogged him down in emotions he’d rather would just go away.

And I am so helpless.  I am only me.  I can’t fill the place in his heart left by his father.  I can’t make time pass faster or the hurt go away.  I can’t even say that I understand, because I haven’t lost a parent.  I really can’t imagine what it would be like.  We are just trying to carry on with our holiday traditions.  Actually, we are going to change one of our traditions.  We usually make sure we have either Thanksgiving or Christmas to ourselves as a family.  This year we had Cathy for Thanksgiving and will host my mother for Christmas.  There is nothing like a loss to remind you of how much you love the family you already have and how it is that they will not always be there.

Have you lost a parent?  Please tell me about your experience.


4 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Liz @ A Nut in a Nutshell
    Nov 28, 2011 @ 17:30:51

    I lost my dad 3 years ago, and that first holiday season was incredibly painful. Every year gets a little bit easier, but there will always be an emptiness.


  2. Ashleigh
    Nov 28, 2011 @ 21:42:32

    I lost my brother (23) last year unexpectedly. We were close in age. Growing up, he was my other half. His loss was devastating to me.
    I’m actually going through a program right now called GriefShare. It’s nationwide and hosted by churches. (Check out their website for locations.) I highly recommend it! It’s been amazing to connect with others who have experienced loss. And to let myself grieve my brother’s death well.


  3. Multiplication Chart
    Dec 19, 2011 @ 17:59:35

    i like it


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