Tag Archives: grief

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Holiday Grief: My Story by Michelle Enis Vasquez, San Antonio, TX

Brian and MichelleI have been widowed twice.

I put up my Christmas tree two weeks ago. On Thanksgiving, my beloved Brian will have been gone eight weeks. He died October 3, 2013.

I decided that the Christmas tree would be a memorial to him, and I got a whole bunch of purple ornaments (our favorite color) and some British ornaments, and other ornaments that reminded me of our time together.

My beloved husband, Al, died in 2007. I have ornaments from years past to honor his memory, and I added a few more this year. I also found two angels that did not look like women (hard to find) and put them close together, symbolizing my two guardian angels, Al and Brian, who are looking after me.

I turn on those lights when I wake up and keep them on until I go to bed. I need a bit of cheer at this very difficult time.

Michelle Enis Vasquez lives in San Antonio, Texas. This picture was taken on a cruise to Alaska they enjoyed just a month before his death in October, 2013. Michelle also recently baked a cake to honor her two angels. To read the comments on my Facebook invitation, click here.

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Holiday Grief: My Story by Jenny Montalbano, Astoria, NY

Jenny and Aunt EllieChristmas is my Mom’s favorite holiday.

She would be at Hallmark the day after Christmas for the half-priced ornaments to add to our already full Christmas Tree for the next year.

She would spend hours putting out her Christmas Village house and arranging cotton wads to look like snow.

She would bake her Mother’s Italian Christmas cookies and fill the house with the smells of holiday comfort and love while she listened to her favorite Christmas music, with Frank Sinatra in high rotation.

Each year, when “I’ll Be Home For Christmas” would play, Mom would re-tell me how it reminded her of the Christmases in the early 1950’s as she and my grandparents would wait for word from their son who was away in the military.

My mother, Ellie, passed in October of 2011. As my first Christmas without her was creeping up, I couldn’t believe how much I was dreading a holiday that I used to love so much.

Every Christmas decoration, commercial and holiday scent made me burst into tears. I wanted to hide from it all.

One night when I was home alone, I played all Mom’s favorite Christmas songs and wept as each song flooded my brain with memories of my incredible Mom.

“I’ll Be Home for Christmas” brought me to my knees and I allowed myself to sob as long and as loud as I needed to. After that, I began to cry a bit less and smile a bit more.

I’ll never stop missing my Mom, especially at Christmas time but allowing myself to be happy and enjoy the holidays feels as though Mom still is enjoying them, too.

Jenny Montalbano is from Astoria, Queens, New York and enjoys her family and friends. Her mother, Eleanor, was a lifelong friend of my Godmother and thus I had the pleasure of enjoying her company at family events. She was an amazing woman. To read the comments on my Facebook invitation, click here.

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Holiday Grief: How to Remember Your Loved One

holiday_grief_hi_res JPG Cover FINALHoliday Grief – Tip # 1

One of the most asked questions is “How do I remember my loved one at Christmas and the holidays?” And the answer is…in so many ways.

Just your thoughts of them honor their memory, but there are practical ways, too.

Visiting their resting place and leaving flowers, balloons and even tucking cards and notes in the soil expressing how you feel and how much you miss them.

Having a placesetting at your holiday table with a rose across their dish.

Leaving their stocking on the mantel and extending an invitation to your children and loved ones to leave a note or small symbolic gift in it.

If a child has died, perhaps the toys that would have been given to your children from you and others in your family can be given to a grieving children’s support group after the holidays.

While at dinner, you can suggest that each dinner guest share their favorite story about the loved one who has died or was killed, in an effort to keep their memory alive while bringing laughter and joy to everyone. Even if there are tears, it’s perfectly ok…someone will come up with a funny story that will lighten the mood.

Make a contribution in their name to a wonderful organization that he or she felt strongly about.

Wear some piece of their clothing or jewelry.

Holidays are also a good time to share some of their belongings with your surviving family members. If grandpa had a favorite watch, perhaps it’s meant for your teenage son who loved him so dearly. Having that watch can bring comfort knowing he now can remember the wonderful times he saw his grandfather wear that watch when they were together.

You can also take a bunch of balloons, write messages on them in felt pen and let them float into the heavens either in your backyard, at the cemetery, or another memorable place.

These ideas should help you think of others which would make you feel better.

My book Holiday Grief: How To Cope with Stress, Anxiety and Depression After a Loved One’s Death is available now by clicking here.

Let us know how you’ve remembered your loved one during the holiday season by commenting below.

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Review: May He Rest in Peace

menorah-star-15686513There are a lot of sites online dealing with grief; some are written by people who truly have lived through a personal crisis and will share their experiences, and others who just try to teach you in a professorial mode.

When I found www.mayherestinpeace.com, I was so happy to see that here you are welcomed to make a memorial website for your loved one. And I was additionally grateful to know it was created by a man who has experienced grief on several levels.

David Goldshtein began this site about a year ago to help others through the grieving process. His father, Michael, died at the age of 84 after ten years of illness, having struggled with cancer, kidney disease, etc. And although the doctors told him several times he was at the end of his life, he never gave up, instead pressing on. As a holocaust survivor, he understood the meaning of fighting to live.

His mother has been struggling with Alzheimers for the past ten years. At the young age of only 17, her parents were sent to a labor camp in Siberia by the Russian Government, leaving her to learn to survive as the daughter of political prisoners.

David’s family’s journey has made him sensitive to grief and as he moves into his forties, he had a desire to celebrate their lives and the challenges they overcame by building a wonderful website that would not only house his memories of his Dad, but to give all of us a place to honor our loved ones who had died or were killed.

I am delighted, as Hanukkah, the festival of lights, begins for the Jewish people this year, to share May He Rest In Peace, for you to honor your loved ones.

In addition, David shares articles (which I will contribute to), books on grief (he’s graciously added my Understanding Your Grieving Heart After a Loved One’s Death), and several other areas which will help you on your journey.

Take the time this weekend to visit his site and look around. David Goldshtein has developed a lovely place to not only learn about the grieving process, but to share the life of those we’ve lost and loved.

My newest book, Holiday Grief: How to Cope with Stress, Anxiety and Depression After a Loved One’s Death is now available on amazon.com.

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Giving Thanks for All We Do Have

On this Thanksgiving Day in the United States, I want to wish all my friends a wonderful day giving thanks for all we do have.

Often times, when we have experienced the death of someone we loved so deeply, and the year-end holidays roll around, we tend to feel great sorrow for what we don’t have.

We don’t have them near to celebration this season with them.

We don’t have them near to cuddle with and enjoy their affection, attention, love and devotion.

We don’t have them near to shower with gifts and attend parties and create memories.

But focusing on what we don’t have instead of what we do, only leads us down a path of sadness and feeling sorry for ourselves.

Perhaps, for just a little while today, we can focus on what little things are bringing us joy this season.

Are we thankful for the dinner a neighbor invited us to because our families live far away? Being included with another’s family can be just as rewarding.

Are we thankful for the family and friends who call us, or write us today and share their day’s adventures. We can be happy for them as they’ve been happy for us in days’ past.

Are we thankful that we can reminisce about the lovely times we did share with our loved ones.

Are we thankful for our home, the people who care about us and who are still in our lives?

Being grateful for what we do have brings hope to our lives and elevates the sense of possibility.

I am so grateful for the folks who read my blog, books and who send me notes that my writing has helped them move a little further through their grief journey.

Find the goodness in this day…find a little more goodness in each day.

I’m thinking of you.

My newest book, Holiday Grief: How to Cope with Stress, Anxiety and Depression After a Loved One’s Death is now available on amazon.com.