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First holiday season without him


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My husband died in a terrible car accident in April. Our first baby was born in July.

This is my first holiday season without him and I’m kind of floundering. I don’t know where I fit in anymore. I’ve been really focused on the baby and I know I haven’t really been letting myself *feel* because I’m just trying to focus on and put everything I have into her instead. 

He really loved the holidays. So did (do???) I. I realize that the baby has no idea at this point what the holidays even are, but it makes me want to throw up when I think that he’s missing all of her “firsts”. First thanksgiving, first Christmas. 

Admittedly I don’t have the most supportive family with this. They’ve made passing comments such as “You’re only 32. You’re young. You’ll find a new husband,” or “Plenty of guys out there don’t mind a woman with a baby”. I know in their own messed up way, they’re trying to make me feel better, but it doesn’t make me feel better at all. It makes me feel terrible. 

I’m not sleeping very well. I think lack of sleep is contributing to my stress, but I just can’t shut my mind off. I don’t know what I did to deserve this hell. 

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You didn't do anything to deserve this. None of us did anything to deserve our losses. Tragedy and suffering are mysteries. I don't have any answers, and I don't think anyone else does.


First holiday season without my wife. She was proud of the green bean casserole she used to make for Thanksgiving.

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@Kal1120  Welcome to our forum, I am so very sorry for your loss.  I had a very hard time sleeping in the early months.  My doctor offered me sleeping pills and I turned them down, I viewed it as a temporary solution to a permanent problem.  Looking back I realize I made it harder on myself than it needed to be.  The fact was, I had a long commute and a job that required perfection...without sleep it was very hard to do.  I realize I would have been much better off if I'd taken my doctor up on his offer and weaned myself off once I'd had more time to adjust to the changes it meant to my life.

I wrote this article based on what I've learned in the years since I've lost George.  If even one or two of these tips helps you, that's good.  If you save it and read it a few months down the road, another tip might jump out at you as relevant at that point in your journey.

And for the record, it's inappropriate for anyone to suggest you'll get a new husband...that's entirely up to you when you cross that bridge but not something to think about right now.  Right now you are new in your grief, you didn't ask for this, you love your husband, you didn't want to lose him, or for any of this to happen...it's not like a divorce.


There's no way to sum up how to go on in a simple easy answer, but I encourage you to read the other threads here, little by little you will learn how to make your way through this.  I do want to give you some pointers though, of some things I've learned on my journey.

  • Take one day at a time.  The Bible says each day has enough trouble of it's own, I've found that to be true, so don't bite off more than you can chew.  It can be challenging enough just to tackle today.  I tell myself, I only have to get through today.  Then I get up tomorrow and do it all over again.  To think about the "rest of my life" invites anxiety.
  • Don't be afraid, grief may not end but it evolves.  The intensity lessens eventually.
  • Visit your doctor.  Tell them about your loss, any troubles sleeping, suicidal thoughts, anxiety attacks.  They need to know these things in order to help you through it...this is all part of grief.
  • Suicidal thoughts are common in early grief.  If they're reoccurring, call a suicide hotline.  I felt that way early on, but then realized it wasn't that I wanted to die so much as I didn't want to go through what I'd have to face if I lived.  Back to taking a day at a time.  Suicide Hotline - Call 1-800-273-8255
  • Give yourself permission to smile.  It is not our grief that binds us to them, but our love, and that continues still.
  • Try not to isolate too much.  
  • There's a balance to reach between taking time to process our grief, and avoiding it...it's good to find that balance for yourself.  We can't keep so busy as to avoid our grief, it has a way of haunting us, finding us, and demanding we pay attention to it!  Some people set aside time every day to grieve.  I didn't have to, it searched and found me!
  • Self-care is extremely important, more so than ever.  That person that would have cared for you is gone, now you're it...learn to be your own best friend, your own advocate, practice self-care.  You'll need it more than ever.
  • Recognize that your doctor isn't trained in grief, find a professional grief counselor that is.  We need help finding ourselves through this maze of grief, knowing where to start, etc.  They have not only the knowledge, but the resources.
  • In time, consider a grief support group.  If your friends have not been through it themselves, they may not understand what you're going through, it helps to find someone somewhere who DOES "get it". 
  • Be patient, give yourself time.  There's no hurry or timetable about cleaning out belongings, etc.  They can wait, you can take a year, ten years, or never deal with it.  It's okay, it's what YOU are comfortable with that matters.  
  • Know that what we are comfortable with may change from time to time.  That first couple of years I put his pictures up, took them down, up, down, depending on whether it made me feel better or worse.  Finally, they were up to stay.
  • Consider a pet.  Not everyone is a pet fan, but I've found that my dog helps immensely.  It's someone to love, someone to come home to, someone happy to see me, someone that gives me a purpose...I have to come home and feed him.  Besides, they're known to relieve stress.  Well maybe not in the puppy stage when they're chewing up everything, but there's older ones to adopt if you don't relish that stage.
  • Make yourself get out now and then.  You may not feel interest in anything, things that interested you before seem to feel flat now.  That's normal.  Push yourself out of your comfort zone just a wee bit now and then.  Eating out alone, going to a movie alone or church alone, all of these things are hard to do at first.  You may feel you flunked at it, cried throughout, that's okay, you did it, you tried, and eventually you get a little better at it.  If I waited until I had someone to do things with I'd be stuck at home a lot.
  • Keep coming here.  We've been through it and we're all going through this together.
  • Look for joy in every day.  It will be hard to find at first, but in practicing this, it will change your focus so you can embrace what IS rather than merely focusing on what ISN'T.  It teaches you to live in the present and appreciate fully.  You have lost your big joy in life, and all other small joys may seem insignificant in comparison, but rather than compare what used to be to what is, learn the ability to appreciate each and every small thing that comes your way...a rainbow, a phone call from a friend, unexpected money, a stranger smiling at you, whatever the small joy, embrace it.  It's an art that takes practice and is life changing if you continue it.
  • Eventually consider volunteering.  It helps us when we're outward focused, it's a win/win.

(((hugs))) Praying for you today.


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I am so sorry for your loss. Perhaps taking a break from the holidays this year will help you to get through them? Your daughter is too young to realize what they are or what is going on, but next year she will be walking and talking and able to enjoy them. So maybe take a "Gap Year" - like kids do between high school and college - and make next year her First Thanksgiving, her First Christmas? There are no rules that you have to follow. You can make up your own rules as you go along. That is one thing that I have learned in the seven weeks since my husband passed away. I get to grieve how I want to grieve. If I want to eat mashed potatoes for breakfast, I can. If I want to sit up and watch TV at 3 am, I can. Of course, I don't have a baby daughter to take care of, but you can do whatever works best for you. As far as people telling you to find a "new husband," I agree with KayC - that is none of their business and something that you don't need to occupy your thoughts right now. Yes, people probably have good intentions in saying that, or maybe don't know what else to say to offer consolation. I've posted before - if another person says to me "I can't imagine" I am going to scream. A good, close friend of mine, who is a wonderful, kind, caring soul, kept writing that to me in messages, trying to comfort me - I finally told - STOP IT. And she did. So don't be afraid to tell people to back off. If someone mentions something about remarrying or whatever, maybe just say - that's something I'm not even thinking about now, I am still trying to grieve my husband and that comment upsets me more. I am 57 and one of my sisters told me that I'm still young enough to find someone else. I don't want anyone else. I want Bob back. 

Stay strong and I hope you have as good a day today as possible. Big hugs.

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Perhaps, as Sunshine247 suggests, taking a break from this year's holidays might be a good thing. Your little one is too young to even notice and you need to expend what energy you have, into taking care of yourself and your little one. Holidays can be stressful and chaotic. No point in adding to the emotional and mental overload you are enduring. I skipped my first holidays as well as I could. I needed to. I was a crying, emotional mess and others in my life were understanding. The ones who might not understand, will most likely be the ones who will not be with you throughout this life time journey of grieving. It is just another tough fact of life. When we lose a loved one, we find out who our true friends and family are.

Also, another suggestion, is not to listen to others who have never been in your shoes. When someone expresses inappropriate words, either tell them off, if you feel inclined, or just walk away. People think they are helping, but, it is more of a necessity to make themselves feel better, that their lives are still normal. They don't think, before opening their mouth. Most just do not know what to say and instead of saying anything, they should just give you a hug. You may be young yet, but the last thing you need to hear, is talk of another man or another marriage. Your mind and heart are still processing your loss. You have a baby to raise. You have more than enough to handle without people's thoughtless comments. The rest of your life will unfold the way it is meant to. Now is the time for patience, self care and healing.


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I so agree, it's important to listen to your inner tuition and do things the way that feel best to you, not to please someone else or their expectations.
Here is an article I read, I thought of you...


1. Say "time out" anytime you need.

2. Talk about him or her during conversations.

3. Tell the truth when people ask, "How are you?" Say, "So sad right now." "I don't know." "Not sure...." "This sucks!"

4. Have some "bah humbug" days.

5. Do things differently than ever before.

6. Leave town.

7. Change your mind.

8. Be where you want and need to be.

9. Allow yourself to laugh and have some fun without feeling guilty!

10. Change directions in mid-stream.

11. Cry.

12. Laugh.

13. Cry and laugh in the same minute. 

14. Let your children be part of the holiday planning. They are grieving, too.

15. Don't forget the grandparents if a child died. It's much harder for them than most people realize.

16. Remove yourself from whatever you are doing if it gets too difficult.

17. Do something for someone else (helping others is often very comforting).

18. Have rest, peace, and solitude.

19. Spend part of the day as before and the rest doing something different.

20. Let people know ahead of time what you would like or need, such as your loved one's photo in a prominent place, mentioning his or her name in conversation, sharing memories about him or her, lighting a candle, etc.

21. Allow others to grieve their own ways.

22. Here's a good one. One mother whose son died went online and created a huge puzzle using family photos and then had everyone gather and put it together. When it was done, there was lots of joy and talk about memories from the past. You can do this on Zazzle or many other sites. 



23. Include one of your loved one's favorite dishes in your holiday meal. 

24. Make a donation to a charity that was important to your loved one in their name.

25. Buy a gift you would have given to your loved one and give it to someone in need. 

26. Put a gift for your loved one under the tree or Hanukah bush.

27. See a grief counselor. Maybe you've been putting it off. The holidays are especially tough, so this may be the time to talk to someone. 

28. Pick a few special items that belonged to your loved one and gift them to friends or family who will appreciate them. At some point, we gave Erika's bed and all of the linens to cousins, and every time we visit them, we get to see the bed!

29. Make a memorial ornament, wreath, or other decoration in honor of your loved one. Get the kids involved, too.

30. It's hard to part with your loved ones clothing, so perhaps you might use the holidays as an opportunity to donate some items to a homeless shelter or other charity, but only if you are ready.  

31. Send a holiday card or email to friends of your loved with whom you have lost touch.

32. Visit your loved one's grave site and leave a grave blanket, wreath, rocks, flowers, or other meaningful holiday item.

33. Play your loved one's favorite holiday music.

34. If your loved one hated holiday music, or you do too, that's okay! Play whatever music they loved.

35. Journal your thoughts and feelings like never before. Let it all out!  

36. Skip some holiday events if you are in holiday overload, and try not to feel guilty for doing so. 

37. Drive yourself so you don't get trapped. You need to be able to leave if necessary. Oh, and there's always Uber! 

38. Pull out old photos and spend some time looking at them. If it gets too hard, put them away.

39. Talk to kids about the holidays. It can be confusing for kids that the holidays can be both happy and sad after a death. Let them know it is okay to enjoy the holiday, and it is okay to be sad.

40. For children, see if you can keep the traditions as regular as possible, for they need to return to their normal routines as soon as possible.

41. Make a dish that your loved one used to make and share it with others.

42. Leave an empty seat at the holiday table in memory of your loved one.

43. If leaving an empty seat is too depressing, invite someone to fill that chair who doesn't have anywhere else to go, such as a neighbor, elderly person, or student who is not going home for the holidays.

44. Don't send holiday cards this year if it is too sad or overwhelming.

45. Skip or minimize gifts. After a death, material things can seem less meaningful and the mall can seem especially stressful. Talk as a family and decide whether you truly want to exchange gifts this year or if you are even able to shop for gifts. If you do, shop online and have gifts shipped.

46. Make a new tradition of exchanging gifts for the children only. Buy your gifts online and have them shipped.

47. Put out a photo table with photos of your loved one and others' loved ones who have also passed.

48. Go to a grief group. When everyone looks so gosh-darn filled with holiday cheer, sometimes it is helpful to talk with others who are struggling.

49. Skip (or minimize) the decorations if they are too much. Don't worry, you'll see plenty of decorations outside your house.

50. Volunteer in your loved one's memory.

51. Let your perfectionism go. If you always have the perfect tree, perfectly wrapped gifts, and perfect table, accept that this year may not be perfect and that is okay.

52. People mean well when they tell you what you ought to do for the holidays. But you need to listen to yourself, trust yourself, communicate with your family, and do what works for you.

53. Speaking what you are grateful for changes the brain and helps with grief. Share one thing each day, at least one, that you are grateful for. Say it out loud, go around the room and have each person share as well. Write it down, photograph it, share it on Facebook.

54. Watch what you eat. You are especially sensitive now, so enjoy but don't hurt yourself. 

55. Watch what you imbibe. Alcohol can take the edge off, sure, but it is also a depressant and can make you feel worse.  

56. If you usually cook, have potluck instead or order "in." 

57. Buy a gift for yourself--something that would have pleased your loved one, or even make the gift from your loved one. 

58. Say yes to help. There will be people who want to help and may offer their support. Let them do it. It often helps others feel good to do something nice for you.

59. Ask for help, even if it's hard.

60. Donate a holiday meal to a family in need through a local church, synagogue, salvation army, or department of social services.

61. Identify the people who will be able to help and support you during the holidays and identify who may cause you more stress. Try to spend more time with the former group and less with the latter.

62. Practice self-care. Self-compassion is a powerful way to help you with your grief, and is an important part of your grief journey. Never before have you needed to be kind and loving to yourself the way you do now.  

63. Support kids by doing a memorial grief activity together. 

64. Remember, being happy is usually only "moments." No one is happy all of the time. So allow yourself to have those moments. It doesn't diminish how much you love and miss the person who isn't there. And if you feel guilty when you do have a moment of happiness? Well that's just so unfair, isn't it? So come back to self-compassion and remind yourself that being human means moments of happiness.

Thanks to "What's Your Grief" for some of the great holiday suggestions!


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The holidays are gonna be tough on us all, that's for sure.

Last Thanksgiving was the last time that my partner actually was able to eat a meal. Last Christmas was the last one together and I knew it and she was so sick she didn't care.

On January 3rd she was admitted to hospice and that was also the last day she stood up. From that day forward she was bedbound and then began 4 months of a rapid, horrifying downhill slide to death. I was her sole caregiver at home though she was in and out of hospice acute care each month for a week at a time. During all this not one friend or family member bothered to see her, support me, send a card or a flower or even call on the phone. The only people in our home were the nurses and other hospice related staff.

I recall every month from January to May 6th and in that last few weeks I recall every day. 

No one that I know has ever gone through something like this with their spouse. There is no way they will ever be able to know what it is like to be in my shoes then or now.

Not even my grief counselor who is half my age can grasp what I saw and how it feels to go through this and then lose your best friend, your family, your world. I myself am having a hard time grasping the finality of this. 

I try to keep busy and sometimes that works. I come home to silence and try to fill the void with TV and time with our dogs but sometimes it becomes a losing battle.

There are no family except hers an hour away and except for the phone with her sister none of them has even bothered to say "sorry for your loss".

The holidays are mixed up with happy memories of good times past and horrific memories of what happened last year.

One day, one minute at a time, hug our dogs, talk out loud to her, see my grief counselor, and try to stay busy and remember the joys and love.

That us about all I have got to keep me from drowning in grief.

I know you guys get all this and for some reason that helps me get through.otherwise there is no one in my life that can possibly comprehend this kind of loss because they have never been through it and sure don't want to hear about it. 

They go about their business and it is like my wife never existed. Like someone said on here, I am the guardian of her memories and our love.

Otherwise we don't and didn't exist to them and my pain is an inconvenient phone call. So I don't talk about it else I will be totally abandoned by most.

I am tough and I will put up the Christmas lights anyway and watch old holiday movies with the dogs. I will survive and thrive but boy is it a hell of a ride. Praying for strength and courage. Remembering the love and the good times. All I know to do.

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I have said we are the guardians of the memories and love with them...my husband's family seemed to forget him...and me.  Never heard from them beyond his funeral and most did not show up for that.

It's hard for me to comprehend how someone can be so completely left alone as you were in caring for her in her end days.  Neither your family nor hers, nor friends...wow.  I'm sorry.  But you DID it, and for that you should be proud, you cared for her to the end.  Makes me wonder if that's how it would have gone had George lingered...for his was a sudden death...heart attack, in the hospital, two days later, another heart attack, this one fatal.

I'm glad you have your dogs.  I've lost all of the animals we had together, have different ones now but they're old.  Don't know what I'll do when I lose them.

I, too, have my tree up and am starting the Christmas movies.  I do it for George.  He loved the festivities, so his stocking is hung, his ornaments displayed.  I like to imagine he is here in spirit. Who knows, I invite him.

If there be but a wee bit of joy I hope it seeps through to you during this holiday time.  You keep the spirit of her alive, she is never forgotten so long as you live.

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Thank you for that, Kay. I have identified strongly with your story all along re family absence. I have only a few cousins left out of state and 2 of them were in touch on the phone. Another good friend out of state but she is overwhelmed with caring for her own spouse with Alzheimers. 

My partner has a sister, nephews, nieces, step sister and brother an hour away. They live in a world of shopping and work and busy-ness. No clue how to even show compassion  among themselves.

My partner wanted no funeral. Wanted to be cremated and kept with me until my time comes and then we will be scattered with our dog cremains. I lost 2 of our dogs in October.

One developed cancer in her mouth,  out of the blue, the week after Martha died. A totally healthy dog who adored and watched over her during her illness.  She lasted 5 months to the first day of diagnosis. Martha survived 5 months in hospice. I believe she went to be with her.

Our second dog was 17.5 years old and died of a stroke. Martha died due to strokes.

So both are with her now and that leaves me with one of our rescues, who seems healthy for now.

Last weekend I adopted a loving senior dog and he has already brought so much love, fun, and joy to my heart. That is some good news!

I am also thinking of a puppy for next year to liven up these old'  mutts some more.

So I am creating my version of family and, like you, I do not consider my SO "gone", but only "away" until we are together again. I talk to her daily and feel her close.

Blessings to you for all the love and support that you give here and to everyone on here who does the same. Wish we could all meet in person!

Anyway, we will all get through this because we have our friendships here and we are open to love and support from each other.

Love and happy holidays to you all!

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20 hours ago, Moment2moment said:

Wish we could all meet in person!

I live in Oregon and having been on grief forums for over 13 years I've met some wonderful friends over the years.  I could have met a couple of them a few years ago but they opted not to, even though I would have traveled the hour to see them when here.  I guess some prefer to keep the world of virtual reality separate from their daily lives.  I feel differently, I bring these people into my home every day when I log in, all that is missing is being able to give them a hug in person.  I feel I've come to know many perhaps more so than the people I sit behind in pews at church every week, for these are the people I have bared my soul to, become transparent with and entrusted with my hearts deepest thoughts.

I relate to your creating a furry family to be the one you live with, for that is what I have.  They bring so much joy, love, interaction, and spontaneity to my life!  Sometimes we miss having a person to talk to, that someone that used to turn the garage light on for us, the person that cared about us, that we shared in all of life with...but barring that, my furry family is there to enjoy in life with.  I can no longer drive at night so have forced relaxation at night with my dog and cat, but they help, they really do.

I wish you well with your new senior dog!  Having had a dog that lived so long, that's amazing, the oldest one I ever had was the one I grew up with, he lived to be 15, my other oldest dog lived to 14.  My Arlie is almost 11 but his breed doesn't have a long life (Husky 10-12) and Golden Retriever 9) but I'm hoping he'll surpass both his breeds.  So far, so good.  I have to cook for him, he has acute chronic collitis, has since I adopted him as a puppy almost a year old.  He can't tolerate most antibiotics, let alone the gastrointestinal dogfoods the vet sells.  So I have to keep close watch to keep him healthy.  He lost from 140 lbs to 110 and there's he's held steady for several years now.

I believe as you do, that we will all be together again.  Whatever the changes will be, I trust my Lord and His judgment to do what is best for us in our afterlife.


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First, I am so sorry for you and your child's loss.  My stepdaughter is 24 and I still grieve her mother not getting to see her growth and success.  I try to make sure I support and encourage her though them.  I'd like to say I celebrate them for both my wife and myself, but I know that at times the grief shows through and my daughter knows how much I wish her mother could be there to see it.  It is complicated as are most things in our lives now, but we get through them one muddled step at a time.  I hope you find your way as well.

Second, your families reaction less than a year in is unbelievable.  You may in time decide you want to pursue another relationship, but that is your business and none of theirs.  So far I have only had one person, an old friend who I knew before I met my wife, and who never met her, do something so insensitive.  After reminiscing for a while he asked if I had dated anyone since.  I told him no, and that I didn't think I ever would.  He said, and I quote "Your getting older, you don't want to die alone do you"?  Talk about a jaw dropper.  After a few seconds I simply replied "I won't, I always have Christine with me in my heart".  We haven't spoken since then.

I got lucky in all of this that sleep hasn't been a huge problem.  At the begging of course I had some rough nights, and for about the first year I woke up abnormally early and couldn't get back to sleep frequently.  I don't know how I lucked into simply being able to get up and get on with my days.  If you think it is affecting your health, you might want to talk to a doctor or therapist about it.  Problems sleeping during grief are normal, but with a young child thrown into the mix you might need something to help you get onto a more regular schedule, either medication, or sleep assistance techniques and homeopathic remedies.  Just a thought depending on how severe the effects are for you.

I'd like to echo Spenglers "You didn't do anything to deserve this. None of us did anything to deserve our losses. Tragedy and suffering are mysteries. I don't have any answers, and I don't think anyone else does."  You are doing nothing wrong.  Anyone who has the strength to make it through this kind of loss does so in whatever way they can.  The fact that you are doing it with an infant as well is amazing.  Hoping you find some peace and at least a momentary respite and rest,


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