Touched by loss. Empowered through community.

Widowed Holidays: Round Three

Date: 
Monday, December 1, 2014
Posted By: 
Jeannine Love

When I was thinking about this blog post a few weeks ago, I had planned to write about all that I have to be thankful for. If I stop to reflect on it, I know it is true. I am very lucky to be surrounded by loving friends and family who have supported me throughout this widowed path. I know I have only made the progress I have in the past two years because of the love that lifts me up daily. My family and friends are amazing; the holiday season should be a time to rejoice in togetherness, to give thanks for one another.

And, I thought this might be the year I’d get a bit closer to that goal. I had planned to walk into this holiday season with my head held high, sure that this would be the year that I would escape that overwhelming sadness that seems to creep up and envelope the holidays, dampening time with family, each moment requiring vigilant effort to prevent collapsing under the weight of the emptiness. This holiday season is, after all, round three in this widowed life. And, in my day to day, I am faring generally pretty well.
I hadn’t gone as far as deluding myself into thinking the holidays would be joyful, but I was hoping they would at least be somewhat pleasant. But, as soon as Thanksgiving break was upon me, I was struck with that familiar anxiety, that aching emptiness. And, I knew, this holiday season promised to be like the last two: mostly numb with a strong undercurrent of sad.

However, this Thanksgiving I broke through that numbness a bit; I broke tradition. I did not go home on Thanksgiving Day. It wasn’t planned; it was just an outcome of circumstances. So, since I couldn’t be with family on Thanksgiving, I went home to Cleveland to see my family the weekend before Thanksgiving. On Thanksgiving Day, I was taken in as a “stray” by a friend here in Chicago. This shuffling of timelines, upending of traditions, did not entirely relieve the anxiety or the ache—but it did seem to dull it a bit.

Without the stress of the actual holiday around me, I was able to relax with my family a bit more. I was able to pretend it was just another weekend visit, no expectations, no traditions to worry about—no holiday. At the table of folks I had just met, welcomed in to share traditions that were not mine, I was just a welcome visitor at someone else’s home. These slight changes allowed me to separate the holiday from the time spent with others, and I found that this helped ease the ache ever so slightly.
While I still spent much of the week in a form of a depression haze, there were actually moments when the ache subsided and I was able to honestly enjoy the company of those around me—when I was able to forego tradition and minimize the holiday expectations. I hope, however, that perhaps some day in the future, the ache will recede enough that cherished traditions and holidays will be cherished again. But, for now, I can only ask that folks continue to be patient with me when I seem distant or sad this holiday season—I’m still working my way through that aching loneliness. And, if I step away from traditions this year or in the coming years, please don’t take it personally. I’m doing my best. Promise.

Comments

this is so true to how I am feeling right now. finally put a tree up after three years which was huge and am actually enjoying it. there is still that sadness though. I also hope that one day the holidays can be what they used to be. thanks for sharing....

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