I wrote the following blog post 4 years ago, but because of its popularity and the fact it still holds true today, I thought it would be good to share it with all of the new grieving dads that have followed this blog since 2011. Wishing you peace.
‘Tis the Season
It’s that time of year again, the time of year that bereaved parents struggle with all of the anxiety from the anticipation of what the Holidays will bring in the way of unwanted gifts, Holiday memories. For some it’s the past Holiday memories that cause the pain while others, like me, it’s the lack of memories since both of my children were babies when we lost them.
I come from a Christen background so for me it’s the not knowing what it’s like to take my children to church service on Christmas or watching the excitement from your child as they open gifts on Christmas morning. Since many of the followers of this blog come from different religious backgrounds, I am sure many of you have similar types of Holiday traditions that cause you to reflect more during this time of year than other times.
Regardless of your religious beliefs or lack thereof, this time of year is tough because it also brings the end of another year without your child or it marks the first year without them.
I get a lot of emails from grieving dads this time of year telling me how hard it is or emails asking me for ideas on how to navigate through these 2-3 weeks. I wish I had all of the answers.
The one thing I have learned from the hundreds of conversations I have had with grieving dads is that many of the dads that have found hope in their lives again are doing something to create a legacy for their child as a way to honor them and their life.
Living to honor our children’s life can take on many forms. The way we honor our children is very unique and personal to the individual. It’s important to do things to honor our children throughout the year, but it’s especially important during the holiday season.
I remember the first Christmas following the death of my son Noah; it had been about 6 months since he had died. I was at a locals Macy’s department store when I had a meltdown that came out of nowhere. I found myself hiding amongst the fake Christmas trees. I was hiding because I was unable to control my crying and I didn’t want others to see me. What triggered it were the pink and blue baby ornaments that they had displayed on the tree. My mind was thinking about the “what if’s”, the “what could have been’s” and the “what will never be”.
Over the years, the holidays have become easier for me. Not easy, but easier.
I have a large pine tree in my yard and one of the things I do every year is decorate it with blue and white lights as a way to let Katie and Noah know that I am thinking about them. It’s the only thing I decorate on the outside of my house. However, the Christmas tree on the inside of my house is decorated with ornaments such as those pink and blue baby ornaments that use to trigger many emotions. No, the Holidays are no longer the same. I have no living children to enjoy the holidays with. All I can do is find ways to let Katie and Noah know that they are with me.
I have spoken to many grieving parents regarding how they handle the holidays. Some of the ideas that they have given me include: donating gifts to less fortunate children, sponsoring a family in need, volunteering at a food kitchen, visiting a children’s hospital or a retirement home. These are all excellent ways to honor your child. Some may appeal to you while others may not. If you can, try to find a cause that reminds you of your child. If you’re not feeling strong enough to take on big tasks, you can do something as simple as lighting a candle in their honor. Try to do something.
Wishing you and your family a peaceful Holiday Season!
What are your plans for the Holiday Season?
Photo Credit: Alan Schaller via Compfight cc
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I have also lost my faith, but doesn’t stop me wishing everyone a merry Christmas and peaceful time. I am not sure this day is any worse than others for me as I always think what would he be doing now, what would he be like….its just another one of those same days.
Thanks Kelly and the other contributors this year for your thoughts and words, it has been the worst year of my life (as you all most definitely know) but reading this blog has provided some comfort.
Wishing you the peace and some form of happiness you can find in 2016
Mick – You are welcome! I am happy to hear that this blog has been a resource for you.
I find the holidays to be lonely since its just my wife and I. I too think about what they would be like. I miss them everyday and think about how my life would be different if they were still with me. I often see innocence in children I never noticed before. I often want to pick a small child and just hold them and love them. But I won’t, because that would probably freak most people out. Especially if I started to cry, which I probably would. I often think about adopting an older child that doesn’t have a family, but it makes me uneasy because of the pain and circumstances they have been through. Concerned about how much damage has been inflicted on them and whether or not I could handle the emotional fallout that they would be dealing with. Sorry for my rambling 🙂
Wishing you a peaceful 2016 my friend.
I lost my only son a couple of years ago to homicide, and I have lost faith not only in Christmas in general, but the faith I used to have in what God had in store for my family. To keep sane, however, I adopt a couple of my school families where I teach and provide a Christmas to them that I wish I could still have for my son. It does help as I shop with some of my students and they are so wonderful and do make me smile and laugh. I put up a tree at my son’s grave with all the trimmings. I look forward to seeing new ornaments from his friends. Peace still eludes me but “it is what it is.”
This is my 9th Christmas without Zac. I choose to honor Zac’s memory by supporting other fathers who have lost via the Daddys with Angels FB.
Every year, I also try and find someone that needs an extra lift for Christmas and this year it was a friend of a friend whose house was broken into and had all their Christmas presents for their 18 month old stolen. When I got my Christmas bonus, we went and bought some toys and anonymously gave them to them.
This has a strange echo from Zac’s last Christmas. In November 2006, I went on a bike ride with Zac and 2 of his younger siblings. On the way home, we stopped at MacDonalds for a cold drink and whilst we were inside, all but one of our bikes were stolen. Being only weeks before Christmas, we couldn’t afford to replace 3 bikes.
About 2 weeks later, i received a phone call from the local bike shop. They had an order for 3 brand new mountain bikes waiting for me.
A friend had told a friend had told a friend etc of our plight, and they had ordered and paid for the bikes. We never found out who it was.
We picked the bikes up 2 days before Christmas and the plan was to put a “From Santa” tag on them, as it was truly a gift from Santa.
As we were travelling by car to visit family for Christmas, we decided to leave them behind and just suprise the kids when they got home to find them under the tree.
Zac never made it home, he was killed in a car accident on our way home from the holiday so he never got to get his santa gift.
I still ride his bike.
Have a peaceful holiday Kelly for yourself and your family. Kind Regards. Bill.