Be Kind to Those Who Grieve at the Holidays

I shouldn’t need to say this, but be kind to those who Grieve during the holidays.

A year ago, my husband was in the hospital after being diagnosed with late stage, metastatic bladder cancer. I’m not kidding when I say I had no holiday spirit at all. It drove me crazy that all the employees at the cancer hospital kept saying, “Have a nice day.”

Really? Seriously?

I wanted to scream at them, “This is a freaking cancer hospital! How many people do you think are having a nice day?” The best alternative I could come up with was, “I hope your day doesn’t suck too badly.” But I politely kept my thoughts to myself. Stiff upper lip and all.

Bah Humbug

It’s always tough to lose someone you care about, but it seems especially difficult at the holidays when we’re surrounded by happy people looking forward to their gifts and parties, and with Christmas music playing nonstop in every store. The whole world seems happy except for those who are going through one of the toughest times in their lives. By New Year’s, I could have cheerfully strangled the people who were tone deaf enough to wish me a Happy New Year. There was nothing happy about it.

grief like ocean quote

This first year of widowhood has been challenging and sad, though not without moments of joy, like my cruise. I’ve grown a lot in the process of being on my own for the first time in many years. Would I say it has been a good year? No, I wouldn’t go that far, though I wouldn’t call it a bad year. Last year was the bad one. I’d call 2015 a transitional year.

If you know someone who has lost a loved one or is going through a tough time due to some other kind of circumstance, please choose your holiday wishes carefully, lest someone wish to strangle you. And do keep in mind that not everyone is having a happy holiday season.

Wishing everyone the best holiday possible, whatever that may mean to you.


7 thoughts on “Be Kind to Those Who Grieve at the Holidays

  1. {{{Linda}}} it does get better with time. I lost my mom — a New York native living in the Seattle area — on September 11th (she was so out of it that day that she believed she was watching a disaster movie, bless her soul). I’m thankful her passing occurred when it did and not during the holidays. I can only begin to imagine what my husband and his siblings feel these days. They lost their mom on 12/20/1996 and their dad on 1/1/2013. The key, as you imply, is to remain sensitive to what the other person has experienced.

  2. Thanks for the post….just lost my sweet, wonderful mom at Thanksgiving. It’s been difficult to keep smiling during this holiday season, but I’m working on it (good days and bad days–it’s cleche, but true). Luckily people have been very sensitive about the season and how I’m feeling, but I do find myself doing a bit of hiding at home…and, no, I’m not decorating like I usually do. I do think it helps that I live in a small town–word got out quickly at this unexpected event…and I get more hugs than empty “seasons greetings” from folks here. I love the reference to waves, too, because that’s exactly how it does feel…sometimes I’m just happy to float, let alone swim. I’m so sorry for your loss, Linda, and will hold you in my thoughts this season… All best to you and yours, Janet

    • Thank you, Janet. I’m sorry to hear of the loss of your mother. I’ve been through that and know it takes time. I’m not decorating this year, either. Maybe by next year I’ll feel like doing so. Take care.

      • I posted your other “grief” post on my author page (which prompted a few very nice phone calls from friends). Next year will be different, I know…and I’m fine with not being as bling-y this year…I have a few things out, just enough. Take good care! All best, Janet

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