Touched by loss. Empowered through community.

Gearing Up for the Holiday Blitz

Monday, November 2, 2015
Posted By: 
Diana Maggio-Gumushian

This past weekend marked Halloween on Saturday, and the return of Daylight Savings Time early Sunday morning. It also starts the “official” barrage of holiday advertising. There have already been numerous commercials advertising “holiday season” and “Season of xyz” and the like. The commercialization is nauseating and hard to deal with even if you aren’t dealing with being in the club nobody wants to belong to. But for widowed people, the holidays can mark an incredibly difficult and emotional time to get through.

For those of you who are new to widowhood, there are many emotions and feelings you may not know how to address. It’s hard to know what to do about maintaining traditions, being sensitive to children or family members, and figuring out how to honor your loved one without it feeling like it will crush you and swallow you up. After seven years, I am still navigating how to start new traditions, let go of others, and straddle the bridge between them. Over the years I have had the opportunity to talk to many widows and widowers who all have stories of how they deal (or don’t deal) with the holidays. And for every person, what they feel comfortable with is just as different as what brought us to the common club of widowhood.

The best advice I can offer is this: do whatever YOU feel you can do. If that means retreating in your house under a blanket until March, do it. If it means skipping the parties and gatherings where you won’t feel comfortable, do it. If it means crying your eyes out, do it. If it means surrounding yourself with family, do it. If you need to break plates, shred Christmas cards with pictures of happy families, volunteer at a soup kitchen and spend your holiday with strangers, do it. You get the idea. Don’t let anyone tell you how you should or shouldn’t behave. Only YOU know what that is, and it may change from day to day, hour to hour, or minute to minute.

Try to seek out the company of those who will listen quietly, are comfortable sitting in silence, or wiping your tears, or holding your hand, or breaking those plates with you. It doesn’t have to be family--- some of the most comforting and understanding people I know are fellow widowed folks I met along the way. Whatever you do, do NOT feel guilty for any of the choices you make. We beat ourselves up enough over other things. Be gentle with your fragile heart, and know that you are not alone in all the feelings you have. You are entitled to all of them.

I hope that all of you make it through the next few months with some degree of peace. You are all in my thoughts. Be good to yourself.


Its not just major holidays it ia any celebration from my late husbands family. I have a boyfriend and a big family myself but i feel guilty when i back out of their celebrations. It has been 4 years and feel awkward every time i do decide to go. Should i just go with my daughters 19 and 14 for them or is it ok to just let them go without me ?

Add new comment