Tag Archives: grieving

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An Uncommon Valentine’s Day

avatar-heartEveryday life after losing your spouse or sweetheart can be quite difficult. But handling holidays such as Valentine’s Day can be unnerving.

We start to see the advertisements on television for roses, jewelry and heart-shaped boxes of chocolate weeks before this day. Restaurants feature special dinners for two on that evening. And when you were paired with someone you love, chances are good these ads didn’t affect you.

But they do now.

The anticipation of a significant holiday or date such as the anniversary of your loved one’s death or their birthday can bring many emotions that we might not have expected. But please know that they are natural and normal.

Most of us feel such intensity around holidays because we are sad that we can no longer enjoy the closeness, experiences and love we once shared with our honey.

Some of us also are angry that they died before us. Others of us struggle with the unfairness to the point of cloistering ourselves in an effort to never be hurt again.

But there comes a time when we consciously accept that we are still alive and if we were supposed to go first, then we would have. And since this is the way things have turned out, why not live life to the fullest.

When that turn in thinking eventually arrives, it can gloriously begin a guilt-free new life whereby you take a long deep breath and with a loving kiss planted on their picture, you decide to consider new adventures.

It doesn’t mean you don’t miss them. It doesn’t mean you will not honor their memory for your children’s sake. It only means that you are now beginning a new and perhaps a somewhat scary life where the unknown awaits.

And that is a good thing.

So on Valentine’s Day, find the right thing that will make you happy. Is it the chocolate-covered pretzels, cherries or strawberries? Shall you get that massage you have been promising yourself because you miss your husband’s touch?

Will you finally accept your buddies’ invitation for a round of golf and lunch instead of sitting in front of the television alone?

Will you decide to give a little time to someone who is hurting like you and share a candlelit dinner together with a funny movie?

Or is it, perhaps, time to give that little soul at the animal rescue shelter a new life with you?

Even if you find yourself melancholy at times, no need to be embarrassed. Those who love you know this transition has not been easy for you.

So accept that kind pat on the back or hug, accept all the well wishes of those who love and care for you and remember that your sweetheart would want you to enjoy your life. Their love for you will never die.

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Holiday Grief: Invitations

holiday_grief_hi_res JPG Cover FINALHoliday Grief Tip # 3

Each year we receive numerous invitations to gather with family and friends. And when you’re in the thick of grieving a loved one’s death or other significant loss, there is always an uneasiness as to how to handle these invitations.

Sometimes you’ll feel especially interested in getting out and seeing everyone again. Sometimes you think there is no way you could get yourself energized enough to partake in these events.

There is a solution. If you have a business party or dinner, family or friend gathering, you can simply accept the invitation with conditions.

Let your host know that this has been a difficult time of year since the death of your spouse, child, etc. and tell them you’d like to accept their kind invitation on the condition that if you feel it’s just too much for you on that day, that they will understand your not making it to the event.

You might also add that if you do come by and feel it’s too much for you, you might choose to leave a little earlier and hope that would also be acceptable to them.

This way you have an out, either way. You can attend and leave early or you can decide against it at the last minute.

Either way you have at least graciously communicated with your host and let them know you appreciated their gesture, while reducing your anxiety and stress during the holiday season.

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

How have you handled Christmas/Holiday invitation during your grieving process?

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Holiday Grief: To Tree or Not to Tree

holiday_grief_hi_res JPG Cover FINALHoliday Grief – Tip # 2

Often times when we are facing Christmas without our loved one, especially if it’s the first holiday season since their death, we ponder whether it is worth our time and energy, and sometimes our money, to put a tree up with all the decorations.

Perhaps you want to simply skip the holiday all together…after all, it would be so much easier, wouldn’t it?

But when it comes to deciding on a tree or to forgo this tradition, at least this year, you’d want to consider whom that decision might impact the most.

If you have children who are grieving the death of a parent or sibling, it might be wise to have a family meeting and softly discuss what you are thinking and get their feedback on your ideas. You might be wildly surprised to learn that they want Christmas to remain exactly as it has been in years past because they don’t want any traditions changed.

They might be feeling that the person who died would want them to celebrate just as you did in the past.

And if that is too much for you, there are options.

Maybe the compromise is a smaller tree with fewer lights and ornaments.

Maybe you can use a plant, instead, and decorate it with a strand of tiny white lights and instead of ornaments use red silk ribbon tied in soft bows that you just lay on the leaves.

Maybe the children would like to put up a small tree in their room and decorate the way they wish.

There are so many options. Put your thinking cap on, get ideas from your family and friends and, most of all, don’t discard the feelings and wishes of your spouse and children.

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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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.