24 answers

First Holidays Without Loved One

This is our family's first holiday after suffering the sudden loss of my sister. We have been doing well throughout the year, but since she passed away in January, most of our last memories with her are from thanksgiving, christmas, and New Years last year.

It is beyond hard, and I just wish someone could give me some guidance as to how to help myself, my family and her 2 children get through this season. Her kids were older, now 17 & 18. So we all know it will be hard...

It just seems as though we are all under the mindset of there is really nothing to be thankful for this year, and christmas will undoubtetly be very hard as this was our biggest holiday together.

We are not that religious and prayers do not take away the loss or pain... so it doesn't help to hear this kind of help (Not that I am knocking it, people should beleive whatever they choose)

I have just never been so miserable and I don't even want to start christmas shopping, cause I truly don't want anything to do with it this year... is it okay to skip the whole "Happy Holiday" thing and just have a small quiet dinner at my house for My immediate family so we can greive through this season?

1 mom found this helpful

What can I do next?

Featured Answers

It is absolutely allright to skip it this year. I would advise though to find out what the kids would like and maybe take their cue if you possibly can. Maybe you can even donate what you would have spent shopping to a family in need in her name. Or seek to help in any way that 'she' would have liked-favorite charity, school, etc. Or maybe use the money you would have spent to go away somewhere for the holiday- I know a family who did that when they lost their father.
I am so sorry for you to have to go through this.

2 moms found this helpful

My sister in law passed away last December.It was not expected. We had a Memorial service for her in Ocean City,NJ at the beginning of the year. A beach house was rented there and everyone in the immediate family came and hung out. Since then, my sister in law has rented the same house.They grew up in OC New Jersey. I think it makes her feel closer to her. I do not think she would have wanted everyone to be sad. Hang out in a place that she liked and talk about her. Have a memorial service for her or a rememberance. I think you should speak of good times. Make some of her favorite dishes for Thanksgiving. Celebrate her life not her death.

Hi, L.:

Treat the holidays as if she were with you.
It will be difficult for you and the family because the memories are so raw.
It is okay to grieve. Things will get better in time.

More Answers

I am so sorry for your loss and can empathize with where you are right now. We lost our 2 yr old nephew just after Thanksgiving last year and we were all pretty much numb through Valentine's Day.

My husband and I were actually having this conversation last night. We have had a really difficult year with several deaths in the immediate family, most expected, but still difficult. Our family is still grieving the loss of a baby who literally went down for a nap and never woke up. Because of the timing, the holidays have become a series of mixed emotions this year. I too was having a hard time finding things to be thankful for, so here's what we're doing.

Be open and acknowledge how you are feeling. If you have young children, you need to have some things under the tree. If your children are older, do gift cards and take them shopping one day during their school vacation. Make a day out of it- shopping, lunch, movie, whatever. Just make it different and tell them why. Please don't over-indulge this year b/c nothing will fill the void.

It is absolutely okay to have a small dinner this year, but try to focus on how blessed you are to have eachother. Remember your sister and celebrate her life in a meaningful way. As a family, we all agreed to purchase at least one toy for charity each year in AJ's name for a toddler. I think my husband and I spent more time on that toy purchase this year than any others b/c we wanted it to be a really great item for a child in need.

As for the gratitude thing, we literally sat last night with a pen and sheet of paper and listed all things we are thankful for and why.

For me...
- I am thankful that we enrolled our son in "mommy-and-me" swim lessons. I took a promotion this year (also thankful for) that has me away from home more and this class gives us "time" each weekend
- I am thankful that we were able to hire a housekeeper which has also given us back our time
- I am thankful for my husband because he quietly makes all of my hopes and dreams come true without asking for ANYTHING in return
- I am thankful for my toddler who makes me smile every day and who loves me in sweats (not a suit) b/c that means play time!
- I am thankful that all family members are still employed and able to pay their bills
- I am thankful for my parents and grandparents for instilling a true sense of family and faith in their children (I could not have gotten through the last year without these two pillars)

Find gratitude in small things this year and find solace in the fact that with time you will find joy (different than gratitude) in your life again.

3 moms found this helpful

Yes, it is fine. Talk with everyone, have a family meeting, and see how everyone feels about the upcoming holidays and put together a plan for the holidays that feels right to everyone and will best help you all cope and get through this together. It is great you have each other to lean on. I am so sorry for your loss.

Blessed Be

2 moms found this helpful

It is absolutely allright to skip it this year. I would advise though to find out what the kids would like and maybe take their cue if you possibly can. Maybe you can even donate what you would have spent shopping to a family in need in her name. Or seek to help in any way that 'she' would have liked-favorite charity, school, etc. Or maybe use the money you would have spent to go away somewhere for the holiday- I know a family who did that when they lost their father.
I am so sorry for you to have to go through this.

2 moms found this helpful

You need to do what is best for your family.

2 moms found this helpful

I am so sorry for your family's loss.
I agree with the 'family meeting' idea. Although everyone may feel as you do- there may be some family members, especially those with children, who will find a lot of comfort and joy in the holiday season. It's perfectly fine if you don't feel that way- but remember not to be offended or take it personally if other family members do. On the same note, that way if you all meet and discuss it, they won't be offended if you don't want to participate in gatherings or more 'traditional' holiday events.

The most important thing is to remember your sister and to help yourself and others honor that memory. Was there any special thing that she liked to do at the holidays? A certain cookie she baked or did her sons go and get the Christmas tree with her? I think upholding traditions like that in her memory might be helpful to her sons in the future, but it is understandable if you just can't face doing it now.

If you don't feel like shopping for gifts, then just don't. Finding old pictures of your sister and putting them into an album for her sons might be the most meaningful gift you could give and might also help you remember happy times with your sister.

Church might not be the answer to helping keep you from depression- but helping others might be the best thing you can do. Find a local food pantry and volunteer. Deliver gifts to needy families in your area- they always need people to deliver at our local coat/gift drive. Find ways to help others and honor your sister's spirit that way- it will mean more than presents in the end.

Above all, don't reproach yourself. You've suffered a terrible loss and of course it will take time to get over it. This is not the year to feel like you need to go on a shopping spree or cook a giant dinner from scratch. Quality time with your loved ones remembering your sister and helping others may get you through this year. I am sure that is what your sister would want- not for you to grieve into a depression, but to remember her with love and try and get what you can out of the season.

Again, I am so sorry for your loss.

2 moms found this helpful

Absolutely! Have the small, quiet dinner if that's what you choose to do.
My dear stepfather died 5 years ago this year, 10 days before Christmas. I had a 2.5 yo at the time, or believe me, we would have just skipped the holiday and celebration.
My best, non-religious advice for you--remember your sister over dinner, talk about her, your memories, cry and grieve. It will be done. might as well be now.
I'm very sorry for the loss of your sister. God bless.

2 moms found this helpful

I can only imagine how you feel right now. Loss of any kind is not easy to deal with. Loosing one of my grandmother's right before Christmas and miscarrying my first pregnancy at the same time absolutely sucked.
Try to think of what SHE would expect of you. I'm sure she would not want her family to be unhappy. Try wrapping your head around a project that would benefit others in her name. I found that when my Christmas list began to rapidly shrink with the loss of several family members in recent years I started purchasing more stuff for charity. I figured they would like being honored in that way and it helped me to know I could provide a smile for someone less fortunate than I during the holidays.

2 moms found this helpful

You can definitely do that. Also, remember, you can be thankful for the memories. Continue to make her a part of the holidays. Make sure that she isn't the elephant in the middle of the room, remember, cry, share. Denying the pain can make it harder.

But, don't let the loss take away the fact that life does move on, and you need to celebrate and embrace the fact that there are still things out there that make you happy, and to be grateful for. You can start a tradition around her if you would like. Either a place setting for her, or light a candle, even just the fact that when you go around the table, you share a memory of someone departed, and something that you are thankful for now.

Good thoughts to you and your family.

2 moms found this helpful

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