Handling the Holidays after a Loss by Nancy Hamlin
My mother died on July 1, 1993, so we went into my daughter’s birthday, (November 25th), Thanksgiving, and Christmas thinking we had grieved. When I look back on this time, I want to laugh at how totally crazy were we in thinking that we had even begun to understand what my mother’s death meant for our family.
I went “over the top” for my daughter’s birthday, making this elaborate Teddy Bear cake from a mold, and I think it took me 6 hours to put the star frosting on, star by star. Julia had far too many presents for a 2-year-old, one present after another. She couldn’t even comprehend all of the unnecessary bounty.
I was frantic. I didn’t stop moving. I made Thanksgiving dinner and then proceeded to buy tons of Christmas presents. On Christmas day, my husband, daughter, father, and brother kept opening presents until we were exhausted. I remember us sitting in my parent’s living room after opening the presents. We were all very quiet, just looking at each other, and I remember feeling…terrible, just terrible. What was wrong? What did I miss? What didn’t I do right? Why did I feel so incredibly sad?
The answer is that I had not planned on anything feeling different. I had not planned on what it was going to feel like to NOT have my mother at my daughter’s 2nd birthday, or at Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year’s. I so wish I had. I so wish we had. We caused ourselves unnecessary additional pain because we were all pretending that we could just “go on” without her and not feel this amazing void, this huge hole in our lives. Oh my. It was so sad…
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