If you are anything like me, your memories of Christmas include lots of family time, traditions, baking, laughter and celebrations. After the loss of a spouse, the holidays take on a new meaning and can be incredibly difficult to navigate.
The first Thanksgiving and Christmas, after the death of my husband, were definitely not filled with the joy and laughter I had come to expect. I remember spending the first Thanksgiving crying outside my parent’s house because I missed my husband so incredibly much and didn’t want to bring everyone down with me . After that, I decided to make new memories and traditions with my family and we took a trip, just my daughter and I that first Christmas.
As the journey of widowhood has continued, I have learned that the holiday season will always feel a bit different. I had to make a choice between allowing myself to only feel those losses or to move forward and make new memories and traditions. You see, no matter how new this widowhood journey is to you or if you (like me), have been walking this journey awhile, you unfortunately will have to face this loss at each birthday, death date and holiday and it will be hard to navigate through, but it is possible to do.
I often think about what Darren would want for myself, my daughter and our entire family. He loved Christmas even more than I do. As soon as the Christmas season started and the Christmas lights were up, he spent at least one night a week driving us around to see all the lights he discovered. He would watch all the Christmas movies and find little gifts for our daughter that he knew she would love just so he could see the excitement on her face on Christmas morning. I share all of that, because I know in my heart that he would not want us to only feel the loss each year, he would want us to make memories together and enjoy the Christmas season.
So, as you face this Christmas season, my hope for you is that you can find joy in the midst of your grief. That you can find new traditions that may not look the same as your past, but still are just as meaningful. Do allow yourself those moments of reflection and even sadness because those are normal and important, but don’t feel guilty when you laugh out loud over something that your family says or does. Don’t feel bad when you make a new tradition in this season. Remember the reason we celebrate this time of year and what a special time it can be even in the midst of sadness and grief.
I know this journey all too well and my heart and prayers go out to each and everyone that is facing this difficult season. My prayer is that you will find joy in the midst of your sadness and know that it is okay for your heart to go on and for new traditions to be made. Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year to each of you, may it be richly blessed!
Amy Woody brings her personal experience and passion for helping others to her work with widows. She wants you to never forget you have a purpose and a God-given calling placed on your life, no matter what you've been through! Use your hurt to help others!