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Putting up the tree makes me more sad


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I am so sorry for your loss. My heart goes out to you as you struggle to give  your children a functioning (and at times happy) home while you are feeling shattered. 

You are not alone in feeling you can't do this.  It helps to focus only on what you have to do today. Today's tasks are manageable. Looking into the future is overwhelming. 

I hope you will come and read our comments and share your story as you feel the need. We understand how hard this is for you. Our lives have been shattered too. 



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@AforA96-22  I am so sorry you lost your husband.  When did it happen?

You have children...what are their ages?

I remember how hard it was for me to put up that first tree, actually I had two very young adult children and my son wanted to go out and cut down a tree, kind of made me go with him but my heart wasn't in it, I did it for them.  Then my daughter wanted me to help her decorate.  Putting up his ornaments and stockings like to have killed me.  But I've done it every year since as a way of commemorating him...he loved all of the holidays!  He reminded me of a puppy waging it's tail!  He was from a family of 11 kids and there was no Christmas, no tree, no presents, ornaments, or stockings, a lot of times no food.  Hence his love for everything he'd missed!  I got him his first tree, ornament, and made his stocking.

I have mine up this year, no one will see it, no presents under it, nothing in the stockings, but still I do it, for him..  I like to think he can see it and is glad I did it and understands.

I realize the urge to NOT do it, I was feeling that too, the older I get...but I'm glad I did.  My puppy likes it.  My heart goes out to you in all you are feeling and going through.  I know it's rough, it feels life changed forever, never to be the same again.  It's amazing to me how one person changes it all..  For a moment I let myself imagine him here...it feels good, at peace, tranquil...then I come to and realize, no, he's not coming back.  It's been 17 1/2 years.

Sending you caring thoughts and wishes for you...wishes for making it through this as we have and having some bit of peace to help you forward.

I admire your caring for your children and keeping them in mind even when your heart is whirling for yourself...

Grief Process

This is not a one-size-fits-all, what strikes us one day will be different a few months/years from now, so please save/print this for reference!

I want to share an article I wrote of the things I've found helpful over the years, in the hopes something will be of help to you either now or on down the road.


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 its 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 or www.crisis textline.org or US and Canada: text 741741 UK: text 85258 | Ireland: text 50808
  • 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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@Lost7  With those memories at Christmas time I don't blame you for not decorating.  As for the future, that remains to be seen, take care of yourself, try to be easy on yourself and let the pressure go..  (((hugs)))

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On 11/27/2022 at 11:42 PM, AforA96-22 said:

[...] I don’t feel capable of being able to makeup this loss to my children.[...]

Dear AforA96-22, It is okay that you cannot makeup this loss that your children have also experienced. You cannot, and the more you try, the more you will feel, *wrongly* feel, like some kind of "failure" or "disappointment" to your children and possibly/probably also to yourself, your husband, and your/their other family members. You are NOT meant to fill in the gaps, holes and voids that other people have left. Please do consider this. The only thing within your own power and control to do, is to be there for your children as your own Self, which is as only their mother. That's what they need. From you. That's what they need and want and will appreciate, from you. To do your best, at the minute, to just fill your own shoes...as their mother. Not to try to fill anyone else's shoes.

I am speaking from my own experience of losing my Dad when I was 13. It ended up that my Mom was so busy focusing on trying to fill his shoes, that she never, actually, stepped into her own shoes, and how she might have made a real positive difference for me and my younger brother, had she just focused on her own "job" and task and role as our mother. She could not, would not, no matter how she tried or how much she wanted, be able to fill our father's shoes. She was our mother.

You are their mother. Just be their mother...how you already know how to be. Just be that. It'll be enough.

They each lost a piece of them self, also. But they do know that its name was "Dad" (or whatever version of that they called him.) Don't make it so that they also lose "Mom", just because Mom is preoccupied trying to be "Dad", or to be both -- "Mom" AND "Dad". You won't be able to properly fill both sets of shoes. Don't try. It's okay that you can't. It really is okay, that you can't. No-one else actually expects that of you.

This all may sound a bit 'unemotional', uncaring and lacking compassion. I get that. But my point is that it is perfectly okay to just be their mom. They lost their dad, they don't need to also lose their mom...which is what happened to me and my brother (aged 13 and 10), when our dad died. Back in 1974.

Love and hugs,   Ronni

Edited by Ronni_W
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On 11/27/2022 at 10:42 PM, AforA96-22 said:

I lost a piece of me. 

I am sorry Christmas is so hard. I lost my husband of 32 years in May 2021. I also often experience my extreme grief at sudden intense bursts like you describe putting up the tree. Hearing words to a song we liked…trying to donate items of his items…planning family visits without him and so on. At first I tried to suppress it, but found allowing myself to break down and really feel it more beneficial in the long run.

I am lucky my children are grown, I don’t know how I would cope. Give yourself credit for your hard work and let yourself be sad in front of them sometimes so they will know that it is okay to be that way too. Hopefully participating in this group will help you as it has me.

I’m going to tackle the decorating tomorrow, so wish me luck 🍀 Peace, BohoKat 

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@AforA96-22 I'm sorry for your loss.  I don't decorate for Christmas  but for me there is no reason to decorate.   My children are grown with families of their own. I haven't decorated since my son left home and that was 10 years ago.  If you have young children I understand.   I pray that God will help you through this time.  This forum will help you.  Or it did me.  Blessings to you.

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This will be my third Christmas without my wife. I used to put up outside lights and a small tree inside. We had to get a small tree because of the grandchildren running around and always playing with the big one. I just can't celebrate without her here. There's no joy, plus my wife's mom passed away 2 months ago and the family get together won't be too festive. I've only put up a small Nativity scene by the entrance, I'm the only one who looks at it. Fortunately the youngest stepdaughter is coming to stay for a couple of days at Christmas.

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