I feel as though every widow who writes about this time of year writes about the gut punch that is the holiday season without their beloved, and while that’s a deep and visceral truth that I too experience, I thought that maybe instead of commiserating with you, I could help you find a way to feel empowered to wear your grief on your sleeve and bring your husband along for the holidays. If you’ve read any of my previous posts, you know I’m a big advocate for rewriting personal and societal narratives around death and grief, and about incorporating our loved ones spirits into our daily lives as though they are right here with us, because they are, and these are a handful of ideas for how you can do that.
- Put his photo at the table for Christmas dinner and all important holiday functions. This helps him feel more physically present, accompanying how spiritually present he already is.
- Make his favorite dish at Christmas dinner. Better yet, make it how he likes it. Does he like the turkey dry but you can’t stand it? Make the turkey dry. Does he like canned cranberry sauce instead of homemade? Get the canned cranberry sauce. Those tiny but tangible reminders hit home in these moments, and I bet you’ll find yourself smiling while you eat your dry turkey and canned cranberry sauce.
- Carry on your holiday traditions. Do all of your favourite things together knowing that hes right there beside you doing them with you. Close your eyes and visualize and feel him next to you in these moments, because that’s how close he is and it can feel very soul nourishing and comforting to lean in to this.
- Write a letter to him telling him how much you love and appreciate him, and put it in his stocking or under tree. On top of that, read it out loud to him Christmas morning. Being able to vocalize these feelings to him, something that often falls unexpressed now, will make Christmas morning feel magical and full of the love you both share.
- Don’t be afraid to talk about him regularly at family functions and holiday parties. And if you’re feeling bold, talk about him in the present tense. I’ve found that sometimes people are afraid of talking about him because they’re scared to make me sad or “remind me” (don’t even get me started on that one, as you too know). Its because honestly they don’t know what to do, and they’ve never been in our shoes. I find that the more regularly I talk about my husband (yes even in present tense), not only does it bring me immense joy, but it actually puts others at ease and makes them smile as well.
- In addition to 5, remember that people don’t mean to be insensitive, they’re just programmed by a society that doesn’t understand death and grief. But try this, instead of feeling defeated or angry, take it as an opportunity to kindly and compassionately educate those folks about what grief actually looks like about how you would prefer sensitive topics be addressed.
- Last but certainly not least, buy yourself a Christmas present from him, wrap it, and put it under the tree or in your stocking to open Christmas morning. Make sure to buy yourself a gift that he would have bought for you. Whether than means its sentimental, or funny, or practical. Put yourself in his shoes and buy something for you from him. Who knows, maybe hes whispering that perfect gift in your ear. Oh ya, and bonus points if you wrap it like he would. Trust me, it’ll make you chuckle when you go to open it.
Look. I know being a widow is exceptionally hard, I too am living it, but I’m also all about standing in my power and in our story and owning it no matter how uncomfortable that makes other people. Being empowered to take back the holidays doesn’t mean your heart isn’t also simultaneously shattering, but it does mean that you can take all of those broken pieces and arrange them into a different shape that’s also beautiful, even with missing pieces. I hope that some of these ideas help you to bring some joy to your holiday season. Merry Christmas & and a Blessed New Year to each and every one of you and your husbands.