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Posted: 11/16/2011 1:21:16 PM EDT
[Last Edit: 11/16/2011 5:58:14 PM EDT by DRich]
I lost my wife to cancer on Christmas Day 2008. She was 34 years old. We'd been married for almost twelve years and our twin boys were 17 months old. Obviously, we didn't really celebrate that Christmas and I didn't have the heart to do much for the next two. My parents are divorced/remarried and my in-laws were still very involved with the boys, so they had three sets of grandparents who took turns hosting them for those holidays. This year, we lost 4 of the 6 grandparents and the other two have other plans, so the three of us are spending Christmas here at the ranch for the first time. They have no memories of their mother, other than the videos she left for them and the other pictures and stories they've seen and heard.

Over the past few days, I began pulling our old Christmas decorations out of the attic so we could hang lights around the house and see if I needed to buy some new strands. The boys had a great time going through the knick-knacks and piles of other decorations that my wife loved to display every year. One of our traditions was to buy a new ornament every year to commemorate our 1st, 2nd, 3rd.....9th, 10th, 11th...Christmases together. Opening that box really hit me in the gut because I found that she had bought one for our 12th and tucked it in the box before she died. I had never seen it until my boy pulled it out and showed me this morning. A few minutes later, they found her old Christmas stocking that she made when she was in elementary school and hung it up on the fireplace with the three new ones that my mother made for us earlier this year. I don't want to make this a sad time of year for them, so I'm trying really hard to keep it together in front of them. They just don't understand and I want them to have a very, merry Christmas. I quit my job to stay home with them after my wife died, so I don't really have anywhere to "escape" the surroundings. As I type this, they are putting my wife's porcelain Christmas village together on her old grand piano and it's very hard for me to not go over and tell them "no...no...that's not right" since she set it up exactly the same way every year.

For those of you that have lost a spouse, does it ever get easier or do you just build up emotional callouses to deal with the holidays?
Link Posted: 11/16/2011 1:25:53 PM EDT
[Last Edit: 11/16/2011 1:29:54 PM EDT by Red04Cobra]
Originally Posted By DRich:
I lost my wife to cancer on Christmas Day 2008. She was 34 years old. We'd been married for almost twelve years and our twin boys were 17 months old. Obviously, we didn't really celebrate that Christmas and I didn't have the heart to do much for the next two. My parents are divorced/remarried and my in-laws were still very involved with the boys, so they had three sets of grandparents who took turns hosting them for those holidays. This year, we lost 4 of the 6 grandparents and the other two have other plans, so the three of us are spending Christmas here at the ranch for the first time. They have no memories of their mother, other than the videos she left for them and the other pictures and stories they've seen and heard.

Over the past few days, I began pulling our old Christmas decorations out of the attic so we could hang lights around the house and see if I needed to buy some new strands. The boys had a great time going through the knick-knacks and piles of other decorations that my wife loved to display every year. One of our traditions was to buy a new ornament every year to commemorate our 1st, 2nd, 3rd.....9th, 10th, 11th...Christmases together. Opening that box really hit me in the gut because I found that she had bought one for our 12th and tucked it in the box before she died. I had never seen it until my boy pulled it out and showed me this morning. A few minutes later, they found her old Christmas stocking that she made when she was in elementary school and hung it up on the fireplace with the three new ones that my mother made for us earlier this year. I don't want to make this a sad time of year for them, so I'm trying really hard to keep it together in front of them. They just don't understand and I want them to have a very, merry Christmas. I quit my job to stay home with them after my wife died, so I don't really have anywhere to "escape" the surroundings. As I type this, they are putting my wife's porcelain Christmas village together on her old grand piano and it's very hard for me to go over and tell them "no...no...that's not right" since she set it up exactly the same way every year.

For those of you that have lost a spouse, does it ever get easier or do you just build up emotional callouses to deal with the holidays?


Damn. I really don't know what else to say other than that. I can't imagine what you're going through, or how i'd even begin to deal with your situation. Last year the holdays sucked due to my dad being in the hospital from October till January, my MIL, BIL, and uncle all being diagnosed with various types of stage 4 cancers. So I can relate to not wanting to celebrate.

On the other hand my daughter was born in May of this year, and i'm really looking forward to doing Christmas for her even though I lost my uncle, and my mother in law is under Hospice's care and isn't expected to make it. Just hang in there!
Link Posted: 11/16/2011 1:29:12 PM EDT
Dusty in here.


Hang in there brother. It will get easier over time.
Bless all three of you.
Link Posted: 11/16/2011 1:29:45 PM EDT
I want to say "wow that sucks", but that doesn't come anywhere close.
Hang in there, OP.
Link Posted: 11/16/2011 1:31:11 PM EDT


Link Posted: 11/16/2011 1:31:11 PM EDT
Originally Posted By sslocal:
Dusty in here.


Hang in there brother. It will get easier over time.
Bless all three of you.


+1
Link Posted: 11/16/2011 1:33:22 PM EDT
[Last Edit: 11/16/2011 1:36:21 PM EDT by PlaneJane]

I won't bore you with the details of my history; I'll just say that, yes, it gets easier. And if you keep an open heart and a positive attitude, you will live to love again. I did and so will you.

Jane

Link Posted: 11/16/2011 1:34:30 PM EDT
I'm so sorry for your loss. Holidays aren't the same without family. Be as strong as possible for your kids and do all you can to show them how much their mother loved them. You'll carrying on her legacy with a kind word and a warm hug to those kids more than you'll ever know.
Link Posted: 11/16/2011 1:37:37 PM EDT
I'm not a widower myself, but my heart goes out to you. Are the holidays the same after losing such a dearly loved one? I don't imagine they will be, though that's not necessarily to mean that they can't be nice. I'm not a bit enthusiast about the holidays, though I recognize that they have in them something that we often lack in our homes. Traditions. In my home growing up there some things we just did every year and repetition makes it something that you all share together. Setting up the porcelain village together, even if it's not "just right", or Hot Chocolate and Ham Sandwiches on Christmas Day for lunch, those things, if you make an effort to provide regularity, might very well become some of the things that bring you together the most.

I would say that there may be merit in continuing the traditions you've had, like buying a new ornament each year. It may not have the same significance as it may have before, but it's still a celebration of your family. Your boys would be 4 or 5 now by my math, so they're probably old enough to start remembering the good times that you have together on Christmas.

Good luck.

Link Posted: 11/16/2011 1:37:46 PM EDT
Originally Posted By sslocal:
Dusty in here.


Hang in there brother. It will get easier over time.
Bless all three of you.


This + 1, and I'll certainly be keeping your wife, yourself and her family and friends in my prayers.

I've not lost a spouse around the Holidays, but have lost family members, and it's tough as that Holiday was one where our family dropped everything and came together. When my grandmother passed away back in '99, Christmas, as far as a family get together is concerned, died with her. She was the glue that held us all together for that particular holiday, and Christmas wasn't Christmas without Christmas eve at Grandmas house. We have in recent years tried to start new traditions, but I won't lie, it's hard as hell, as all we think about and talk about is my Grandmother.

I think working with your sons to start a new tradition that's between you and them would something that might help make it a little easier? either way, I hope you and yours stay healthy, and that you and your sons have a Merry Christmas, and Happy New Year.
Link Posted: 11/16/2011 1:41:27 PM EDT
Lost my son on Thanksgiving eve of 1983. This time of the year still sux for us. Some years are better than others.
Link Posted: 11/16/2011 1:43:35 PM EDT
Man, its dusty in here.
Link Posted: 11/16/2011 1:45:19 PM EDT
Best wishes to your family from mine, brother.
Link Posted: 11/16/2011 1:53:43 PM EDT
Dear God, I'm sorry for your loss.
I cannot possibly imagine what you go through every day, not just the holidays.
I lost my mom 7 years ago, on my wife's birthday. I was a sudden loss, came out of nowhere.
That being said, the first few years trying to celebrate my wife's birthday, and make it a festive occasion for her, was pretty rough. Over the course of a few years, it got a little easier, but I still have to work at it a little to celebrate with her.

It gets easier over time, but in my experience, that wound will never fully close.


God bless.

Jeff
Link Posted: 11/16/2011 1:57:10 PM EDT
Thanks to all for the thoughts and prayers. I know I shouldn't be throwing a pity-party for myself (especially in GD :) ) but it's been a rough couple of days around here.

The boys are 4 now. This is their first year in school and the first year they've been really excited about Santa Claus, decorating a tree, etc. I've been thinking about a new tradition for the three of us and I may see if they want to go out and cut down their own tree. We've got a couple thousand acres of pine forest behind the house and even though half of it burned in the September fires, we should be able to find something suitable unless the drought has killed all the small trees.

Otherwise, I'll just take each day as it comes and try to focus on what I have rather than what I've lost. Easier said than done, of course. I'd love to find the asshole who first said, "It's better to have loved and lost..." and kick him square in the nuts.
Link Posted: 11/16/2011 2:00:50 PM EDT
Lost my 37 year old wife in the early morning of Nov. 1 2009, Halloween night. We were together for 13 years and were coming up on our 10th anniversary the next June; we were going to get our vows renewed in Vegas.

Holidays aren't the same. It's hard to put up the tree and all of the traditions; I shed a lot of tears just unpacking the decorations because that was her realm... I would help but it was never right until she had everything just right... she'd rearrange stuff on the tree for at least a week afterwards.

I think you build up callouses; I don't sit and dwell on how messed up it is to lose a wife so young when we had our whole lives planned. You can't drive while looking in the rear view mirror ALL the time.

I think I found a good woman now... not only does she seem to be a great partner, but when my inlaws put a memorial poem and my late wife's photo in the newspaper this Nov. 1, I came home to find it clipped out and stuck on the refrigerator.

She knows how much I loved my wife and doesn't expect me to stop loving her now; she seems to know how things are and should be. It's a relief because more insecure women would be threatened by the photos in my house; she was my wife but she is also the mother of my children so the pictures always need to stay. There's a lot of little things like that where you don't really think of how to handle things like that until it happens to you.

Keep your chin up, OP, and do everything for your kids. They, and you, deserve to be happy.

My girlfriend once asked me what my wife would think if she knew we were dating. I told her, "She'd be happy that I found a good person that helps take care of me and the kids" and I believe that.
Link Posted: 11/16/2011 2:12:47 PM EDT
Sounds like theres a lot of items that are out right now that are full of stories for you to tell your kids about their mom. They will come to know her through you. Maybe for your family - Xmas & Mothers Day will be the same. You don't have to be strong, you just have to be human. The holidays are a time to remember the importance of family (even the empty seats).

Thanksgiving & Christmas are techinically 2 days, get up and go for a walk - take the kids to a couple of movies - drive to a normally busy place and enjoy the emptiness (roller blading in a costco parking lot).

God & time will heal

I hope you buy a new ornament for your wife every year (even if you remarry).

God Bless
Link Posted: 11/16/2011 2:16:24 PM EDT
Holy shit, man. I don't know words capable enough to even offer any minuscule consolation... other than that I am truly sorry to hear about what you are going through.
Link Posted: 11/16/2011 2:19:45 PM EDT
It takes a long time.

I lost my first wife when I was 27. She passed on Dec 7th.

There were a series of dates that made it very hard for me.

We met around Thanksgiving when we first met
Her brithdate was Dec 6th.
She passed on Dec 7th.
Add the holidays in - Thanksgiving, Christmas Eve, Christmas, and New Years
Our anniversay was Jan 10th.

For about 5-6 years after all this..you did not want to be around me from Mid Nov to Mid Jan. I shunned everyone.

It takes time....but as they say, time does heal.

You are in my prayers Very sorry to hear of your loss.

Link Posted: 11/16/2011 2:22:20 PM EDT
Start to take your cues from the living.

Sounds like your kids are ready.
Link Posted: 11/16/2011 2:34:37 PM EDT

Originally Posted By PlaneJane:

I won't bore you with the details of my history; I'll just say that, yes, it gets easier. And if you keep an open heart and a positive attitude, you will live to love again. I did and so will you.

Jane


Jane is right.
Link Posted: 11/16/2011 2:38:31 PM EDT
My heart is breaking for you Mr. Rich

If you need a shoulder to lean on, I have a pretty big one

Gary
Link Posted: 11/16/2011 2:41:05 PM EDT
Last year my oldest brother took his life a couple of weeks before Christmas. He was 56 and gave in to his medical issues and depression. Needless to say, there wasn't very much celebrating.
OP, I know my situation doesn't even come close to yours, but you have to believe, it does get a little better day by day. I gotta be honest, reading your post I thought I was going to cry.
I have no words that will make it all better. Remember the good times and enjoy the holidays with your kids. Tell them about their mom even though it hurts you. They'll know you love her and them.
Sorry, thats all I got.
Link Posted: 11/16/2011 2:48:30 PM EDT
Originally Posted By sslocal:
Dusty in here.


Yep. I couldn't imagine dealing with those kind of emotions for a spouse. It was bad enough when I lost my cat recently that we had for 13-14 years.
Link Posted: 11/16/2011 2:48:33 PM EDT


Tough story...I'm sorry.

My advice would be to live the holidays through the eyes of your kids.

Kids love the holidays and with any luck, they'll drag you back along into it.

Create some traditions with your sons - make that your new holiday tradition.

Link Posted: 11/16/2011 3:08:20 PM EDT
Originally Posted By HeckThomas:
Sounds like theres a lot of items that are out right now that are full of stories for you to tell your kids about their mom. They will come to know her through you. Maybe for your family - Xmas & Mothers Day will be the same. You don't have to be strong, you just have to be human. The holidays are a time to remember the importance of family (even the empty seats).

Thanksgiving & Christmas are techinically 2 days, get up and go for a walk - take the kids to a couple of movies - drive to a normally busy place and enjoy the emptiness (roller blading in a costco parking lot).

God & time will heal

I hope you buy a new ornament for your wife every year (even if you remarry).

God Bless


Brilliant way to put it. Thanks.
Link Posted: 11/16/2011 3:13:27 PM EDT
Easier said than done, but try to dwell on the happy memories of your wife rather than her absence.

If you had passed away rather than your wife, think about how would you want her to live on. Proceed from there.

Shit, I really don't know what else to say. That's got to be pretty rough.
Link Posted: 11/16/2011 3:22:32 PM EDT

Originally Posted By sslocal:
Dusty in here.


Hang in there brother. It will get easier over time.
Bless all three of you.


Link Posted: 11/16/2011 4:28:05 PM EDT
I lost my mom right after thanksgiving dinner 10 years ago. We were cleaning up and found her in the bathroom after about 20 minutes.

The next year, my then-wife's grandmother died thanksgiving weekend.

For a few years, I really, really hated that holiday but soon got over most of it.

About a month ago, my new mother in law passed away pretty suddenly, although she lived for 16 years with a transplanted heart. Right now my new wife's family is having a bad time with their loss. I'm not really sure how the holidays will be this year.

My wife and her dad ask me how my family got through it all and I simply told them to keep moving forward but remember to look back once in a while. Sounds cheesy but it helped me.

keep her in your heart, but move on and enjoy your and your son's time together.

Brad
Link Posted: 11/16/2011 4:42:29 PM EDT
Sorry about your loss. I can't imagine what your going through, but stay strong there are others counting on you.
God bless.
Link Posted: 11/16/2011 4:58:20 PM EDT
This thread puts things in prospective.
I pray that all of you that have experienced loss achieve the strength to carry on.
Link Posted: 11/16/2011 5:38:02 PM EDT
I cannot imagine your pain. Hopefully, you'll see her in your little boys. I have heard it gets easier, but, no clue on the timetable. My wife and I were married for thirty years. She was the consummate decorator every holiday. I came to savor those times and always looked forward to them. She jumped ship for the dick parade about 3 years ago. I have not participated in any holiday since. Partly due to having no family around and partly from missing what I had. Yes, it does make the holidays difficult. I used to love Christmas music from Thanksgiving to New Years. Now I avoid it like the plague. Now, go spend some quality time with your carpet creepers.
Link Posted: 11/19/2011 12:49:06 PM EDT
Thanks again to all. I do see a lot of her in my boys...which can be quite bittersweet at times. My father-in-law and brother-in-law were here yesterday and today to see us for an early Thanksgiving. Lots of laughing and a few tears, but it was a lot of fun. I fueled up the diesel last night so the boys and I could take off in the morning with our RV trailer and make a loop around Texas to see my dad in Corpus Christi and some friends in Wichita Falls. Then we're heading up to our house in Montana for three weeks. A month on the road will help recharge our batteries and keep my mind in the present.



Link Posted: 11/19/2011 12:55:27 PM EDT

Originally Posted By DRich:
Thanks again to all. I do see a lot of her in my boys...which can be quite bittersweet at times. My father-in-law and brother-in-law were here yesterday and today to see us for an early Thanksgiving. Lots of laughing and a few tears, but it was a lot of fun. I fueled up the diesel last night so the boys and I could take off in the morning with our RV trailer and make a loop around Texas to see my dad in Corpus Christi and some friends in Wichita Falls. Then we're heading up to our house in Montana for three weeks. A month on the road will help recharge our batteries and keep my mind in the present.




That sounds like an excellent idea.
Link Posted: 11/19/2011 12:57:38 PM EDT
Originally Posted By PlaneJane:

I won't bore you with the details of my history; I'll just say that, yes, it gets easier. And if you keep an open heart and a positive attitude, you will live to love again. I did and so will you.

Jane



These are wise words.
Link Posted: 11/19/2011 1:03:04 PM EDT
I'm incredibly sorry for your loss. You are doing the right thing by letting your children enjoy the time. Perhaps this will allow them to better foster their own traditions when they have families of their own in the future.

My mother passed away when I was 13. I can assure you as the child of a widower that holidays have never since been the same. It is often difficult to get into a "festive" mood when you know it will just never be the same.
Link Posted: 11/19/2011 1:13:36 PM EDT
Prayers for you and your family.
Link Posted: 11/19/2011 3:42:05 PM EDT
My sister and husband went through something similar, but was through the loss of a child, not a spouse. They've never gotten past their own grief and guilt long enough to realize their other 3 children are suffering. It's been five years and no happiness is tolerated in their house. Everything always boils down to "If only my little boy were here" and "How can you think this is fun? Your brother can't be here to enjoy this". I can't imagine the pain the parents are in, but they're not only neglecting their other children, but subjecting them to mountains of emotional abuse. The parents went to counseling but refuse to send the kids....they deny their kids need help because they're only siblings and not capable of suffering the way they are. It pains me to say I grieve more for the emotional suffering of my surviving nieces and nephews than the loss of my young nephew. There's more to the story, but not worth getting into now.

In no way am I saying this is also your story. But what I see from watching their handling of this tragedy is they refuse to let their children have a happy childhood. Your children's loss will affect their entire lives and everything they do. I hope you're able to find a way to make Christmas something they cherish, not see as a source of pain that brings that nagging sense of loss to the surface every year. Christmas, in it's traditional sense, is a celebration of the life of Jesus Christ. I don't know if you're religious, but there's no reason you can't also make it a tradition of celebrating the life of your wife and their mother, a time to remember her and the love she brought into your life...and the lives she brought into this world. Make it a special time for the three of you to share, I'm sure they'd rather have you there with them on Christmas. I can't imagine your own suffering, it must be incredibly difficult to put a smile on your face at XMas, but this will affect them as adults, their relationships with their wives, and your future grandchildren's Christmas' as well. Let them enjoy XMas if you can find the strength within you to turn your grief into something positive.

Just my thoughts from watching my sister and her husband, I know it's easier said than done.....
Link Posted: 11/19/2011 4:49:18 PM EDT
I'm glad you brought that up, because my wife and I talked about it a lot once it became clear that she wasn't going to win her fight. I've done my best to keep my grief out of the boys' lives, although I can't hide it all the time. I've also had a lot of help from friends and family who have been able to take the boys for an afternoon or a weekend when I've needed some time to myself. I couldn't live with the guilt if I let my wife and sons down in that way.

The boys don't know their mother died on Christmas Day. It's not something we talk about. They just know she died when they were little. I haven't seen a reason to bring it up with them yet. I'll let them enjoy the day the way kids are supposed to. They are only 4 years old...real life will be on top of them soon enough as it is.
Link Posted: 11/19/2011 4:58:31 PM EDT
I will keep you in my prayers. God bless.
Link Posted: 11/19/2011 5:08:58 PM EDT
I have no words OP. I'm so sorry for your loss and I hope that with time, things will get easier.

Sounds like you're an amazing dad and role model. Your kids are lucky to have you.
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