Topic: Dealing With Loss During the Holidays

Grief Management : Dealing With Loss During the Holidays
by Dr. Geret Giles

The holiday season can be a difficult time for those who have lost

2 (edited by stacie Tue, 20 Nov 2007 18:17:19)

Re: Dealing With Loss During the Holidays

Perhaps a brief introduction to Geret N. Giles Ph.D.

Dr. Giles is our resident psychologist, he is a marriage and family therapist.  Didn't know we had one of those did you? 

He will be participating on the new website in three ways to help you.

1.  Articles in upcoming newsletters
2.  Host live chat sessions in the new year.
3.  "Ask Dr. Giles"  - this will be a new part of the website, where you will be able to ask about specific issues you need help with.

We hope you are looking forward to all the new website will have to offer just as much as we are.

Much love to you and yours,

Stacie

Re: Dealing With Loss During the Holidays

Thank you, Stacie, for bringing up the subject - I had wanted to, but didn't know how without sounding whiney and self-pitying.

As soon as I walked into a store and saw the Christmas displays already up (right after Halloween), I walked right out and felt depressed for hours. Now I hear references to the holidays everywhere I go, I hear Xmas carols, hear people talking about their plans with their families, and I"m just paralyzed with grief. I would really love to just stay home and be miserable instead of going to my husband's family for Thanksgiving, but I know they'll think I'm selfish and I should put on a good show for my daughter. So I'll go and I will be miserable but I'll put on a good face. I'm so tired of putting on a good face.

Last Thanksgiving, my mother was failing fast, but she forced herself to make the turkey and the rest of us did everything else - she was very proud of herself. She even managed to go Xmas shopping the next day and get it all done in one store, though she totally exhausted herself. This is what I think about and I can't help it. Maybe withdrawing from the world is not healthy, but it's all I want to do. Nothing will make it better - unless she comes back to me. I guess I'm still in denial, huh?

Joyce

Re: Dealing With Loss During the Holidays

Thank you Stacie, for bringing up this topic.

Being in the UK, we don't have to endure the pain of Thanksgiving without our special person.  Christmas is huge here, and a really important family time.

Everything bad with Alan's cc seemed to happen at Christmas time - diagnosis on 15th December, return of the disease with a vengeance at his last Christmas, and then he passed the following 21st December.  So, a time that was once such a happy time and full of our little family traditions that we had built up over the years turned into the saddest of times.

On Alan's first anniversary we had a memorial service for him at our beautiful village church, which enabled everyone who loved him to get together and share readings and specially written pieces with each other, which none of us had been able to do at the funeral service when the grief was just too raw.  It was truly a celebration of Alan's life, and I found that a great help and I know my son did, too.

Since then we have marked Alan's anniversary in our home each year with an Open House on the Sunday closest to the date, to which all friends and family are free to come - not to be sad, but to share good memories, have something to eat and raise a glass or two.  In this way, I tend to focus on that day, which has become a special day for my son and myself, rather than on Christmas Day, which still remains a difficult one that just has to be got through the best way I can. 

With love to everyone with cc, caring for someone with cc, or who has lost someone to cc, and who is going through a hard time during the holiday season.

Helen

Re: Dealing With Loss During the Holidays

Thank you for addressing this issue.  My father died on Dec 29 years ago and now Mom is sick with cc and looks like we could have a bleak holiday season again.  I welcome all ideas to make the holidays fun for the little ones, meaningful for the adults, and not dreary for any of us.  It always makes the good times a little less fun when there is a memory of a missing loved one.  I think the memorial service is a lovely idea for the family to share and move on from their grief.

Re: Dealing With Loss During the Holidays

Last year, I changed things up for the holidays.  My husband and I went to a relative's house and spent time with family (not in our own home).  It was easier than being home and wallowing in our sadness.  We surrounded ourselves with friends, family and children.  The children always make it easier!  I went to bed early ... as an escape.  But that was o.k.  I got through it!

Mother of John who lost his battle on Oct. 9, 2009 at age 30....

Re: Dealing With Loss During the Holidays

Blessings to you and congratulations on getting through it. Nothing seems harder than learning to get along without one we loved so much. Hope you have plans this year to keep it changed a little to reduce the sense of loss that naturally comes with the holidays. Keep lovin' on the children. Blessings, Susan

Re: Dealing With Loss During the Holidays

To all - The other thing I forgot to mention is that I try not to focus on the date of John's death....it's so painful and just an awful reminder of what he went through.  Instead, I put all my energy into John's birthday -- a wonderful day in my life.  I ask all our friends and family to do something special and kind on his birthday as a tribute to him and what he stood for.  In this way, I am not remembering his death, but am remembering his life and the thirty years that I was blessed to have him as a son and as my friend.  As much as humanly possible, I attempt to go through the anniversary of his death as a "normal" day and I try not to dwell on it.  I know this won't work for everyone, but it is what worked for me and my husband.  Believe me, it is not that we don't remember....but as best as we can....we try to remember only the good stuff.  Hope this helps someone else.....Nancy

Mother of John who lost his battle on Oct. 9, 2009 at age 30....

Re: Dealing With Loss During the Holidays

The season has just begun and I am already having a rough time.  Nine months ago my husband passed away to cc, then I lost my Mom last week.
So, it is a double loss.  She had been in a nursing home for three years, when Wayne passed I spent my evenings after work with her.  Now what?
Last night I went to my weekly grief couseling, I thought I was getting a little better then this.  I have been going to therapy since June, I'm told one thing that I've been a caregiver for 30 years, now I'm suddenly not in that role.  I tried to go with my daughter like we do traditionly every year the day after Thanksgiving, I was not in spirit of the day, I was home by 6:30 am.  This year I have to deal with two major losses.  Please keep me in your prayers.

Love to my Wayne for 36 years
I'm not a widow, I am a wife
We are only apart for heaven's sake
You are waiting for me at heaven's gate

Re: Dealing With Loss During the Holidays

It has only been three weeks for me, so I am not even attempting christmas this year.  My husband thinks it will be good to be with family, his family.  My dad passed away in 94 and my mom three weeks ago.  I still have my step father.  He is not sure what he wants to do.  I just can't be in a place to talk to people, much less hear people complain that the stove or oven doesn't function properly.

I did tell him before, if something did happen to my mom I would go away.  However, money is tight now, so no vacation.  I might just go to her vacation home.  She loved being there.

My step dad was sweet and put up all of my moms x-mas lights and decorations.  She loved Christmas.  I won't be putting anything up this year.  I would just like to skip it this year...I will try again next year.

I am keeping all of you in my thoughts and hope you all are able to make a nice holiday for yourself.  I use the word nice a lot now. I can't say good or great...things and days are just nice.

Re: Dealing With Loss During the Holidays

Dear Michelle,

I am so sorry that you are so sad. I wish there was something I could say or do to make you feel better. I think you are going through the grieving process and you gotta do what you think is best. Nobody can force you to be in the holiday mood. I understand what you mean when people complain about the most trivial things. Sometimes I just want to scream at them and say well at least your daughter doesn't have cancer, but I never do. I just think it in my head. Some people don't have a clue what people with CC or for that matter, any other cancer, go through or the people that take care of them. But we do and that is why everyone here is special. Please take care of yourself and I hope in time things will get easier. You have many friends here if you feel like talking or venting. Take care.

Love, -Pam

My beautiful daughter, Lauren Patrice, will live on in my heart forever.

My comments, suggestions, and opinions are based on my experience as a caretaker for my daughter, Lauren and from reading anything I can get my hands on about Cholangiocarcinoma. Please consult a physician for professional guidance.

Re: Dealing With Loss During the Holidays

Thank you Pamela. I always appreciate your thoughts. At least we expect to feel this way right now. I don't know if it would be normal or healthy to go on like nothing has happened.

How is your daughter doing? I haven't kept up with the message boards too much lately. Last I knew her tumor shrunk... Wonderful news. Also, I think she was not able to get chemo...I know how upset my mom would be when she couldn't get her chemo, but the timing was always perfect. Gave her a little break. Always thinking of you two.

Re: Dealing With Loss During the Holidays

Dearest Michelle, always remember, you are in your own shoes and this is your grief and you do what you feel best. I am happy to hear you are using the words 'nice' as that is a beginning and it takes time to get to 'good' which is why I always say, 'my new normal'. Remember that you have not only lost your Mom but there is a downtime to go through for the mode of Care Taker that you were in and that has to work it's way through as well. You did well, you will be well as that is what your Mom would have wanted. Please let us know how you are doing, we miss you.

Teddy ~In our hearts forever~ATTITUDE is EVERYTHING
Any suggestion I offer is intended as friendly advice based solely on my own experience. Please consult your doctor for professional guidance.

Re: Dealing With Loss During the Holidays

Dear Michelle - I'm sorry you're going through this.  "Firsts" are difficult, but your first is so new.  Under the circumstances, I believe you get to put yourself above the rest and do what is good for yourself.    Healing and recovery is in store for you now. 
xoxo
Diane

Re: Dealing With Loss During the Holidays

Michelle....you are allowing yourself to "grief" in your very own way and that I believe is one of the most important steps to take when losing a loved one.  It doesn't come natural to us.  We are left with a gap in our lives and somehow this gap has to be filled again.  .   At times it does feel surreal and almost possible to imagine that life can go on without that person and yet we do because, we are equipped with an enormous amount of resilience – the very same resilience that guided us throughout.  You have it, Michelle, it is quite apparent.  Know that many good thoughts are coming your way.
All my best wishes,
Marion

THIS INFORMATION IS NOT INTENDED NOR IMPLIED TO BE A SUBSTITUTE FOR PROFESSIONAL MEDICAL ADVICE. YOU SHOULD ALWAYS SEEK THE ADVICE OF YOUR PHYSICIAN OR OTHER QUALIFIED HEALTH CARE PROVIDER

Re: Dealing With Loss During the Holidays

Christmas was hard for us this year as well.  All that we could do was keep trucking through, and to be honest, in the weeks coming up to Christmas, there were days that I just wished it would be over.  Our son helped me through - kids can do that, and I'm glad to say that it is over and hope that next year is better.  it was especially hard to walk into the stores and see gifts that were annual presents (especially favorite chocolates), then have to walk by them and not pick up a box.  UGH.  Does it get easier???

Re: Dealing With Loss During the Holidays

Yes, Karen, it gets easier, never the same as it was but easier. What kind of people would we be and how much would we have loved if we didn't feel the emotions we do. The harder you loved the harder the missing. Maybe this will help a little, I really like this verse:

Do not stand at my grave and weep;
I am not there. I do not sleep.
I am a thousand winds that blow.
I am the diamond glints on snow.
I am the sunlight on ripened grain.
I am the gentle autumn's rain,
When you awaken in the morning's hush,
I am the swift uplifting rush
Of quiet birds in circled flight.
I am the soft stars that shine at night.
Do not stand at my grave and cry;
I am not there. I did not die.

Teddy ~In our hearts forever~ATTITUDE is EVERYTHING
Any suggestion I offer is intended as friendly advice based solely on my own experience. Please consult your doctor for professional guidance.

Re: Dealing With Loss During the Holidays

Karen...many times I simply went through the motions of important events and I have to say that it does become easier as time goes on.  Our Dr. Giles once said the following:  "I would gently suggest to you that the depth of your feelings are a testament to the significance of the place your loved one  has in your life. The magnitude of your pain and devastation signifies how precious he was to you--and that's a good thing. Your sorrow is a result of the loss of a good man."

To date, almost five years after my husband's passing I find comfort in these words. 
I wish for a peaceful New Year.
All my best,
Marion

THIS INFORMATION IS NOT INTENDED NOR IMPLIED TO BE A SUBSTITUTE FOR PROFESSIONAL MEDICAL ADVICE. YOU SHOULD ALWAYS SEEK THE ADVICE OF YOUR PHYSICIAN OR OTHER QUALIFIED HEALTH CARE PROVIDER

Re: Dealing With Loss During the Holidays

Karen, I am sorry that you had a hard time at Christmas. Look to the future and happy times with your dear son. It must be so hard for you at this time. Just know that you have people here that care about you and are here to listen to your feelings whenever you feel like talking. I will pray that life gets easier for you.

Love, -Pam

My beautiful daughter, Lauren Patrice, will live on in my heart forever.

My comments, suggestions, and opinions are based on my experience as a caretaker for my daughter, Lauren and from reading anything I can get my hands on about Cholangiocarcinoma. Please consult a physician for professional guidance.

Re: Dealing With Loss During the Holidays

Hi Everyone,

This is a difficult time for many of us who've lost a loved one. Right around this time six years ago, my Dad was hospitalized for the last time. Just today as I was driving home and seeing the neighbourhood houses with their Christmas lights on, I couldn't believe we'd spend another Christmas without him.

Yet we are spending another Christmas without him. It isn't just about his death, it's about the way he died, so quickly with this insidious illness that stole him away from us with only eight weeks worth of warning.  During that time, we were still hoping for a cure that was never to be.  In the blink of an eye, his life was extinguished and with that, our lives too. Or at least the lives that we led back then.

So, while this message starts sadly, I want to let you know that it is possible to rebuild a new life and use that sadness to comfort another.  In the time my Dad's been gone, my mother and I have tried to live on in his honour- for the most part, the visible things have been to donate to charity and we now sponsor six kids from World Vision. When there are opportunities to show kindness to another, we do.  Many times we do this for ourselves and for the recipient, but for the most part, we do it for Him, so that he lives on through these acts of kindness that were so much a part of him.

Friends, this Christmas, I'd love to say to you that time heals our hearts, but it only partially heals them. The other part is up to us.  The loss of my Dad will never be totally healed, but the enormous hole he has left is being filled by the drop with these things I force myself to do in order to continue his legacy.

For all of you who've lost a loved one, I wish you peace of heart and spirit. I wish that somehow you can transform your pain into love of another. Even if you have to pretend to be strong, your strength will fortify another. That's what it's all about- we need to hold each other up, because sometimes only those who've fallen are fit for the task.

Brightest Blessings as you remember your dear loved ones this Christmas season. God Bless You All.

Missing U

Re: Dealing With Loss During the Holidays

Dear MissingU, this is one of the most beautiful posts I have ever read. Very elequently stated. Thank you so very much and wishing you many Blessings to come over the Holiday season as well. I know your Dad is so very proud of you and the way you have "played it forward" to others in need.

Teddy ~In our hearts forever~ATTITUDE is EVERYTHING
Any suggestion I offer is intended as friendly advice based solely on my own experience. Please consult your doctor for professional guidance.

Re: Dealing With Loss During the Holidays

missingU....I too thank you for you beautiful posting.  You have been with us for many years, in fact it goes back to near the beginning of this site.  Thank you for the continued support to us  all.   I wish for all good things to come your way.
Hugs,
Marion

THIS INFORMATION IS NOT INTENDED NOR IMPLIED TO BE A SUBSTITUTE FOR PROFESSIONAL MEDICAL ADVICE. YOU SHOULD ALWAYS SEEK THE ADVICE OF YOUR PHYSICIAN OR OTHER QUALIFIED HEALTH CARE PROVIDER

Re: Dealing With Loss During the Holidays

Joyce,

I'm so sorry but I an totally relate to your feelings because I feel the same way.  When you said "Maybe withdrawing from the world is not healthy, but it's all I want to do. Nothing will make it better - unless she comes back to me."  that's exactly how I feel. This cancer killed my mother (Nov. 29th, 2012) in 8 weeks and it was just horrific for me. She was all I had and now she's gone.  It's been 6 weeks and 1 day now, and I'm still hurting.  I believe that everyone takes their own time to heal and we can't rush it, like many others would like us to. 

I'm debating if I want to attend a Grief class which is once a week for ten weeks, or if I want to do it my way.  My friends who have been through the class said it's great. 

My way of grieving is I enlarged three beautiful pictures of my mother when she was well, framed them and hung them up on the wall right in front of me above my laptop screen.  In that way I can type and look at her when I want to.  I also look at one picture at a time and speak to her, cry and then speak to her again.  For me, it gets better each day but then I have my really bad days.  The important thing to remember is that healing is a process and can take a long time depending on the person.  For me it's a long process.

My mother is the :wind beneath my wings" and mother's always stay with their children in spirit and soul.  Their soul never leaves you.

You're in my thoughts and prayers.  Please feel free to leave me a message any time when you need someone.

Re: Dealing With Loss During the Holidays

Joyce,

I'm so sorry but I an totally relate to your feelings because I feel the same way.  When you said "Maybe withdrawing from the world is not healthy, but it's all I want to do. Nothing will make it better - unless she comes back to me."  that's exactly how I feel. This cancer killed my mother (Nov. 29th, 2012) in 8 weeks and it was just horrific for me. She was all I had and now she's gone.  It's been 6 weeks and 1 day now, and I'm still hurting.  I believe that everyone takes their own time to heal and we can't rush it, like many others would like us to. 

This past Christmas was awful for me and I didn't & couldn't celebrate.  All I could and still do, is think of my wonderful loving mother.  Facing it and feeling it is my way of riding through the storm.

I enlarged three beautiful pictures of my mother when she was well, framed them and hung them up on the wall right in front of me, above my laptop screen.  In that way I can type and look at her when I want to.  I also look at one picture at a time and speak to her, cry and then speak to her again.  For me, it gets better each day but then I have my really bad days.  The important thing to remember is that healing is a process and can take a long time depending on the person.  For me it's a long process.

My mother is the wind beneath my wings" and apparently mother's always stay with their children in spirit and soul.  Their soul never leaves you.

You're in my thoughts and prayers.  Please feel free to leave me a message any time when you need someone.

Re: Dealing With Loss During the Holidays

It's been 9 1/2 months since I lost my beloved Mama.  I'm
still hurting & cry every day.  I've gone to a Grief Group, therapy and my heart is still is in great pain.  I'm still dealing with her Estate in
France and the Notaire has ignored me and only responded
when she felt like it and avoids my phone calls.
The Notaire came back from a 2 1/2 week vacation last
August 26th and without advising me, she's on vacation again until the 20th and NO ONE else in her office is allowed to work on my case.  She doesn't keep me updated & I fired my attorney as she never took any action, just made phone calls & sent emails about information that I already knew.  I miss my mother so much and wish I could hear her voice.  This time last year she was well & alive.
Oh Mama please help me get through this turmoil.

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