Tag Archives: tips

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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.

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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.