I am not exactly known for being uber-festive, but those first few “holidaze” (as I like to call them) after being admitted to the Widow Club were not the easiest of days. Over the years though, they have gotten better.
Do I rush to festoon my home in reds and greens the moment that it strikes midnight on November 1st? Heavens no.
But do I crawl back into my bed, yearning to be transported to January 2nd? Okay, maybe sometimes, but not nearly as much as I thought I would, early on.
Over these last few years, I’ve learned how to deal with this season, and not lose my mind.
My family and I have actually come up with a few new holiday traditions that make the dreary days easier to navigate.
For example, staying up late, making food (desserts in particular), and blasting music on Christmas Eve is amongst one of the more popular neo-traditions of our household. And by blasting music, I don’t necessarily mean Christmas music; last year my teenage daughter was enraptured with music from my generation, so Metallica was in the spotlight.
We managed to make it a whole party and have fond memories that we can’t wait to repeat this year.
That is the biggest piece of advice that I can give a new widow/er – start those new traditions!
I know that when it’s all brand new and we don’t know night from day, this might be a little tough to accomplish. Give yourself grace if that is the case. Grief is not linear, and it takes as long as it takes.
But once you feel able, consider starting some new things.
Another thing we do that might seem “silly” to some, is decorate the area on which Bret’s urn sits.
I don’t do much in the way of decorating, but when I do, I don’t skip over his shelf.
I have also been gentle with myself when it comes to sending out holiday cards. Sometimes it’s too much to do, so I just don’t.
I have long since alerted my friends and family of this so no one gets their feelings hurt when they don’t receive a card from my home. Conversely, if sending mountains of cards is your thing, go for it! You never know whose day you might brighten by receiving a card.
Holidays are difficult for many, not just those who are dealing with loss, so whatever your coping mechanisms may be, it’s okay to employ them when things seem daunting. (Hopefully, they aren’t destructive though! No one needs a DUI or hospital bills when we are already overwhelmed by grief.) But even if that has happened to you, be kind to yourself and take the next logical step in remedying the situation.
Widowhood is not easy under any circumstance, but holidays can certainly add to the difficulty. Allow yourself to go into this season with the resolve to not let it get the best of you. Who knows, maybe you’ll unlock some new traditions that will make this time next year much easier.
And it doesn’t have to include listening to Metallica, but it sure can if you’d like for it to!
If the Griswolds can get through Christmas, so can we!