Christmas, Hanukkah and all of the holiday season can be challenging and difficult enough without the addition of grief and 2020. This year has been difficult on its own. Recognizing this, we have written several blogs to provide you with the resources you may need at this time. We’ve written on Surviving the first holiday, Grief, Stress and the Holidays, our perspectives on surviving that first Christmas, Holiday New Traditions. Additionally, we have written blogs that contain information about setting boundaries, self care and other items that may help you. You can take a look at our resources page as well, If it brings up any questions you would like answered, please let us know.
This year while preparing for the season, Jeni found something from the year of her loss. Thirteen years later, she was facing the day that changed the lives of her and her family forever.
Here’s Jeni’s story:
Christmas was always a huge part of our life. He would chase me around the Christmas tree as we put up the lights. We had Christmas in every room. I remember having a friend who walked into our house as I was putting out Christmas. He just stood there in awe as I apologized for not having everything out yet. He said it looked like a Christmas had already exploded in my house and couldn’t see how there could be me. Oh, but there was more...much more.
After Bob passed in 2007, Christmas was a struggle for me. I had to buy a prelit tree because I could no longer put lights on a tree without falling into a heap of sobs at the bottom of the tree. Most years were a struggle to put on a good face for the kids and to try to feel like celebrating. Often, only a portion of the decorations got put out. It was hard to try to recapture the feelings of celebration that we had prior to his passing.
Fast forward to this year...2020. To say that it has been a difficult year for many is an understatement. It has also been a year of growth and reflection for me. I have spent a lot of this year working on me and my goals. My kids are now grown and I made the decision to start giving them some of the ornaments and decorations that were special to me and their father. I am actually looking forward to celebrating this year. I can afford the gifts this year. Though we cannot be with everyone like normal, I am actually feeling the Christmas Spirit this year.
So, I got out ALL the boxes and started putting stuff out that I wanted to keep and made decisions about what I wanted to get rid of or give to some of my kids. There are some that were special to us that I am still keeping. Then, I opened a box that I haven’t touched in years. In that box, I found a bag with some cards and lots of pictures. The picture was a family picture we had taken the Christmas before he passed. We were all wearing Santa hats. We were looking forward to the finalization of the adoption and the future looked bright. I had made several copies of these pictures to include in the Christmas Cards for 2007. I had signed all the cards with all of our names. I had addressed many of them. They were in the bag waiting to be sent out after Thanksgiving. Then he passed on November 27th. They never got sent. They stayed in that bag until 2020 when I found them in the box.
At first, I didn’t realize what was in that bag. It took a bit for me to remember that I had been preparing for Christmas that year and I was looking forward to sending out those pictures and sharing our happy family with everyone. We had finalized the adoption in February of that year and we had so much ahead of us. Once I did realize what was in that bag, I went through and removed all the addressed and signed cards. Thirteen years later, I was still dealing with the emotions of that day in November...all tied up in that little bag. Thirteen years later, I was removing all of the anticipation that we had in looking forward to Christmas that year. For now, I have saved all of the pictures.
I am still looking forward to Christmas this year but the unsent Christmas Cards definitely stopped me in my tracks...once again - 13 years later.
Looking at those cards took me back to that awful day in my life. To the lost opportunities, the milestones that he has missed, the memories that were never created. I sat in those feelings for a bit, but then I looked at the distance I have traveled since that day. Though I wish he could have been here, I am grateful for the moments in our life that are to be celebrated and remembered.
Wherever you are in your journey, we wish you everything you need this season. May you be able to take the time to take care of yourself and your needs throughout this busy season.
May you be surrounded by those who comfort you and may you have the strength to ignore the ones who mean well but do not have a clue.
Many Blessings this Holiday Season. May you have a very Merry Christmas and a Blessed New Year.
Peace, love and blessings,
Jeni & Teresa