My parents are both deceased, my father died 4 days after Christmas 2002. I loath the holidays pretty much. I have 2 older brothers that I really don’t have a relationship with, so my friends are my family for the most part.
Kay Warren, the wife of Pastor Rick Warren from Saddleback Church in Orange County, California wrote a pretty good article about how people should be mindful when sending Christmas cards out when someone has had a loss in their family. The Warren’s son committed son, I believe in the past two sons. It took a toll on the entire family. Here is a link to the full article, however I will highlight some key parts:
I used to be the girl who would buy at least 50 Christmas cards and send them out every year. I don’t believe I have sent a grouping of cards in over 10 years. As a single girl, with no family, I cringe at everyone’s happy little families with kids – none of which I have. It’s a fact of life, but its depressing as hell.
Ok back to Kay’s article:
When I opened the first batch of cards, shock washed over me. Photos of beautiful, happy, intact families cascaded onto my kitchen table. Most were accompanied by a greeting wishing me a joyous Christmas. Some had a signature and the message, “Hope you have a great Christmas.” Others included a standard family newsletter, listing the accomplishments, vacations, and delightful family moments that had filled their year. I grew astonished, then angry, as I realized that none of the cards mentioned that our precious Matthew had died violently six months earlier, leaving us definitely not having a joyous Christmas.
No one and I mean no one the following year after my father had died, had said anything to me about his passing. First Christmas without was sad, he was in a better place, but I wanted to light all the cards on fire.
Last week I wrote about this experience on Facebook. I asked readers to consider sending a plain card to grieving families (instead of an obligatory “happy family” photo). “Tell them in a few words that you are aware of how painful Christmas can be and that you are praying for them,” I wrote. “Yes, it’s inconvenient—it will take more time than your rushed signature, and it will require entering into someone else’s loss, mourning, grief, and anger.”
I love this, but realistically is anyone going to do this – probably not.
My mother has been done 3.5 years and idiot people say “It will get better.” News Flash – it does NOT get better. Her death was more significant because we were so close. We talked on the phone daily, sometimes 3 or 5 times. She loves Christmas and liked decorating. I will share a funny story of Christmas past. I was probably in 4th grade, we lived in Clearwater, Florida at the time and she couldn’t find the box with the old ornaments in it. She went out and bought these hideous apple ornaments. I forgot what else the decoration were, but my dad and I were howling in laughter of these insanely hideous apples. I had to live with those apples for the next 10 years I think, I am estimating. I gotta tell ya though, would give anything to have that moment again.
For the first time in years I bought a Christmas tree last year, my dream tree, white with red ornaments. I didn’t put it up this year because I just wasn’t feeling it. No one understands it, I just refer to myself as Grumpy Cat or the Grinch. I wish people would take time to understand. I know, my parents wouldn’t like seeing me like this, but this is how I handle it. I hope it gets better, but I just don’t know.
Here are more articles on grieving during the holidays that are good: