Thursday, December 19, 2013

Surviving Christmas

 I am finding it hard to find any Christmas spirit this year.

I have no idea if I have bought the children presents that they will enjoy... just a couple of small gifts to keep up the pretense of Santa.
I have not sent a Christmas card in years ... they remind me too much of all those funeral "thank you" cards that sat on my dining room table and mocked me for months after Greg's death before I threw the lot of them in the bin and decided I just wasn't going to do it and if anyone was offended, tough luck.

I am no longer a Christian, so there is no religious element to lift my spirits.
I don't sing carols anymore: I used to enjoy singing so much.  They are now meaningless to me. 
I sit through Christmas services at the church where I was married and where we had Greg's funeral service. I go for my children. That they still have any faith is incredible to me when mine has gone.
I love the minister as he is a truly lovely man, but the words he speaks don't reach my ears.  My heart is closed to the words that used to fill me with joy.
I smile at the people who look at me, wondering why my mouth does not open to sing and why I remain seated instead of taking communion.
None of it feels real to me anymore.
None of it has any meaning.
None of it gives me hope or joy or peace.

(Side note -  if  religion gives you peace, that's great!  It just doesn't do it for me).

But I have found something else that smoothes a balm onto my jangled nerves.
Another source of comfort when it is all I can do not to try to scratch my skin off so that I feel something.
A way of making things bearable when they are definitely not OK.

....and it comes in the form of other widows and widowers who don't try to make everything joyful or happy or peaceful.
Who know what it is like to choose life and light every morning when there are days that you can only see the darkness.
Who laugh at how absurd it is that we have both found ourselves here (How the hell did we get here? Really? here?  He's dead?  dead!   How did that even happen? How is this even possible?).

Each and every widow who looks around and wonders how the hell they arrived here and reaches out to another person wondering the same thing  makes this season bearable.
They don't knit Christmas decorations and coat the house in tinsel and fake goodwill and love to all humans...
... they actually mean that love.

I hate that you guys have to be here with me, but I thank you for being here.
You are definitely making a difference.
Thank you.


  1. I so understand that none of this has meaning. NONE. I to am struggling to find the faith I once held and to find some semblance of peace. Joy well not sure that exists anymore. I do have HOPE and that has come from you and everyone that shares here. You all are making a difference and I am grateful. Keep choosing the light.

    1. Thank you Amanda for writing what you did. this is my first Christmas without my husband Dave (he died 10/17/13). I am so lost and can't believe this is my reality, but when I look into the face of another widow at my support group - she lost her husband the same day - I don't feel so alone.

  2. As a widower (Yes we are on this site as well :-) ....My life does not look at all like I expected it to look before my wife died(2 years ago). But I have come to accept that things may happen around you, and things may happen to you, but the only things that really count are the things that happen in you.
    GOD's will is not something that comes to you - but rather is something you move toward... even through our pain and sadness.

    Merry Christmas Amanda...

  3. Thank YOU, (and everyone who writes here). I don't think you will ever know how many people you have helped by sharing your thoughts and feelings.

  4. I hear you, Amanda, and feel the same way. Sent 2 cards this year, one to my Dad, and one to a brother (one of 5). Can't even read everyone's cards and cheery letters about what happened in their lives the last year.First line of one letter "we have had a wonderful year and we hope you did too!". If they only knew....grief has been my constant companion for almost 4 years. Hoping one day we all will feel a bit more cheer.

  5. Oh Amanda...what a touching post. Right there with you. Always so nice to know I'm not alone. All the best to you today and always.

  6. Thank you too, Amanda, for writing today. Last month I told co-workers I wanted to "skip Christmas" but am not because our daughters are 20 & 16 and I want this to be a happy time, although their dad is not here. He passed away suddenly on May 10, 2012 so this will be our 2nd Christmas without him.

    Every morning I read the daily posts on this website and it helps me get through each day. Thank you again and I want everyone here to know I am thinking of them as the holidays approach.

    Leslie in Little Rock

  7. Thank you for this post, Amanda. It's exactly how I feel, on my 5th Christmas without my husband. I would share this on Facebook, but of course, we're only allowed to post things like "life is good", and pictures of kittens and puppies. I'm sure no one wants to know how I really feel...

  8. I am new here and grateful there is a place for me to go. My husband of 18 years died 5 weeks ago, so the holidays coming so soon after have been like a knife in me. I put up some sparkly lights inside and hung our stockings and have my favorite candles and scents and it is cheerful to me. The fact he is not here is becoming more real with every day that passes. This year I am flying to visit my son and wife and grand kids for the holidays and take some much needed time to stay "present" with them. Life changes too quickly when we're not even looking. Blessings to everyone who happens across this blog.

  9. I too find Christmas difficult. Thanksgiving, I was able to embrace more. Gratitude. I can find gratitude for all the ways in which people have helped me survive the past year. But joy, I have none. This spirit of fluffy warm wishes is something I cannot take in. Last December my husband had just passed away suddenly. Christmas was a big blur. This year, I don't know how to face it. But my faith does somehow keep me moving and hoping. I haven't figured it out yet and I'm not all there either, but I haven't given up on it. It's hard to say Merry Christmas, but I wish everyone PEACE.

  10. Amanda, I couldn't have expressed my feelings any better than you did! What an excellent post especially for those who want the holidays to just be over. If only every one else could understand that the true meaning in Christmas has nothing at all to do with any of the commercialism but the spiritualism and that is darn hard to find when your heart is breaking.

    Amanda and the rest of us who sometimes can't believe we are here, I send hugs and a big bucket to collect all your tears. You are entitled!!!!

  11. I haven't told anyone that I lost my faith. I was always the strongest of the believers in my family. And now it's gone.

  12. I am the grinch. My husband went into ICU 12/18/12 and died 12/31/12. I hate this time of year. My children are the reason I have any decorations and continue to move through the norms and so not so normal rites of the season. They deserve some happiness and Christmas joy, even when I don't feel it. To make matters worse my husbands father just confirmed he doesn't want to see us this year, too hard for him I guess. Life is really not fair, another topic to cover gently when they ask about anout Gramma and Grampa. I will put my energy into helping them feel secure and loved, while doing all I can to shore myself up with the love of family and friends - those who demonstrate true love daily, whether they are truly related or not. God bless all of you! I read everyday, it is one of many things that keeps me going. One day or hour at a time...I'll be quite thankful to see the calendar hit 2014. Hugs!

  13. Amanda i too no longer can believe there is any meaning any more. Oddly it doesn't stop me begging God, Jesus or Santa for Nigel's return - the triumph of hope over experience I guess. If it wasn't for the hope and comfort that I'm not alone that you provide I would take to my bed and stay there. But sometimes all I feel is that even though I know I'm hardly the only one to lose the love of my life , I lost Nigel how wrong is that.

  14. YOU MADE ME FEEL SO MUCH BETTER! I keep thinking at 19 months I shouldn't feel this way, then I come here and find that others are feeling the same way! I think you took the words right out of my heart....thank you for the courage to write the truth. THANK YOU!

  15. This is my second year without my husband. I am trying hard to be merry for my daughter who is 25. She has so many great memories of Christmas when she was little and with her dad. I cannot stand to listen to the Christmas music because it makes me cry every time. The holidays are not cheerful for everyone. There are many of us out there who are grieving our losses and the last thing we want to do is celebrate. But as I said, I am doing it for my daughter. Thank you all for being here. It is comforting to know that I am not alone in my feelings.

  16. I've lost my faith, too. It's one more thing I'm sad to have lost since Steve died almost 7 years ago. It took me a long time to admit that to myself, and I haven't yet admitted it to anyone in my family. Christmas is an awful time for me - we called Hospice on Christmas Eve, and they did the intake for Steve on Christmas Day. I have gone from putting up 5 trees around the house, and singing along with every carol from Thanksgiving to Christmas, to rarely even playing carols, and not decorating at all. This year, I did put up a wreath and some lights, for the first time since Steve died. It finally felt like the right time to put something up to brighten the winter days.

    I like how you say we "choose life and light every morning when there are days that you can only see the darkness." Exactly how I feel. Not every day any more, but some days, for sure. Christmas has a bunch of those days where I have to choose life and light. Thankfully, I can come here and touch base with others like me. It makes the darker days easier to bear.

  17. This will be the 3rd Christmas with out my husband. I am coming up on the 3rd anniversary at the end of January. I really think this season is the worst one yet, which kind of surprised me. I'm so glad to know I am not the only one with these feelings. Sometimes it takes my breath away when those questions of how did I get here, is this real etc. I'm constantly fighting back tears and hoping the holidays and anniversary are over soon. I too read everyday just to get myself going and know that I am not alone. It's a little easier to get through these days knowing all of you are here too.

  18. This is my third Christmas without my husband who died suddenly of a heart attack in the middle of the night. The first Christmas without Rich passed with me in shock and not believing that he was gone. Last Christmas, I put out a few holiday decorations. This third year I feel empty and devoid of any feeling about the holidays. I put out a few decorations and two days later put them all away. I just can't pretend this year.

  19. So grateful to find this site. I will be widowed five years in January and it has been hell for me. I am ashamed to say I cannot find comfort in my faith but I do keep trying. People now seem to think I should "be over's been five years." I don't think I will ever be over it. People say the stupidest things that end up hurting really bad. We had been happily married for over 30 years. Each day is a struggle now.

  20. My ninth Christmas season. It does get easier. I wish for all who read this a sense of inner peace and calm. Just keep breathing those slow deep breaths, one at a time. You can do this.

  21. I also lost my faith when I lost my husband. I put on a good holiday show (decorations, cards, cookies, gifts) but it's just a show. Don't get me wrong, I love my boyfriend and his family, but for and hope are as dead as the dinosaurs.

  22. I'm so relieved (I was going to say happy, but that didn't seem right) to learn that I'm not the only one questioning my faith. It just doesn't seem right that a loving God would take a loved one away and leave us alone and lonely. This is the third Christmas for me since my husband died right before Christmas in 2011, and only a little more than two years of being alone. The first year I kept up with churchgoing, but after Christmas 2012 I just couldn't face the empty feeling inside while feeling all alone in a crowded church.

  23. Every time I read these blogs, it's like the writer is writing my own thoughts. Thank you so much for writing this. This is my first Christmas without my husband, who passed away suddenly in August. I'm dreading waking up alone on Christmas morning with our 3 kids.
    And I'm glad I'm not the only one who lost faith. I try to find it, but I can't. "The power of prayer" is just a joke to me now... if the power of prayer worked, every single one of our loved ones would be here. Does God save someone because their spouse prayed at the side of their hospital bed just a little bit harder than I did?
    Anyways, thanks for making me not feel so alone in my thoughts.

  24. This will be my fourth Christmas without my husband. He loved Christmas and I was not much into the holidays when we met but his spirit was infectious and I have a lot of sweet memories of the holidays with him. This year I think I am doing a great job of faking my way through them. No sending cards or extreme decorating but my son and I did string some lights. There have been so many of the challenges we single parents face thrown at me lately, car issues, plumbing issues that I haven't had much time to really think about the season. I will just be happy to have it over and hopefully the kids will be happy with what I can pull together. Thanks for posting.

  25. I also felt betrayed by God when He allowed this pain into my world. I had no desire to hear anything about need to speak to Him...nearly no faith IN HIM. You feel God/Religion never gave you "" But you can find those things amongst others on this all-too-familiar journey. My thoughts exactly. And the more I thought, I realized that what I desired the most... Hope...Joy...Peace...are Fruits of His Spirit and the only place I can always find it is here...with His people. And my faith is slowly...returning...and....growing.

  26. Give it time, that is always my answer. The things I thought were gone forever when my son died have slowly started coming back. Be kind to yourself, no matter where you are in the journey.

  27. So very glad I found this blog. I have visited other widows' blogs, and if you get too honest, they get uncomfortable. Not everyone can handle the rawness of these feelings but I sense that you folks can, that the empathy and shared despair are real and that somehow the sharing spreads the burden. I used to be a person of faith but that died with my husband. Now I would rather share my feelings with folks like you than pray to any God. I don't mean to be offensive, that is just the way it is. I wish none of us had to experience this, but it sure is good to know I am not alone. Thanks.