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  1. #1
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    Jun. 1, 2002
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    Default Holidays after a death in the family

    I lost a sibling and this is the first holiday without them. My mother cancelled Christmas and scheduled herself to work that day, she said she doesn't plan on getting gifts for anyone, or attending any sort of holiday gathering She's also angry that my father (they are divorced) feels like "celebrating" at all. She's also mad that I'm even considering doing something for Christmas.

    However she's still ok with getting presents from people.

    Any suggestions?

    For me Christmas is a time of giving gifts to people you are close to and celebrating that time with loved ones. Losing a loved one is hard but I still have people left so I don't want to forget them and it's a bit hurtful to me that I can't celebrate because it's wrong or that she doesn't want to spend any time doing anything that might accidentally make her happy.

    Should I get her something anyway? What about my stepfather, should I get him a gift or offer to have him come over to my house for dinner while my mother stays home? Make a meal and hope she attends? It's going to make her very angry if my stepfather attends and leaves her at home.
    Last edited by enjoytheride; Dec. 7, 2013 at 11:57 AM.



  2. #2
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    Oct. 21, 2003
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    You should do what feels right to you. Hiding from feelings doesn't make them go away. "Celebrating" the holidays could be an opportunity to celebrate the life of your sibling, and support each other in your grief. I am sorry your mother is shutting down like this


    6 members found this post helpful.

  3. #3
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    I'm sorry for your loss.

    My grandfather passed just before Christmas many years back. Out big family Christmas was always held at my grandparents' house. We still held it there. Yes, there was sadness. But there was also much laughter. The familiarity plus the stories and just having people around made things easier, particularly on my grandmother who didn't need to be alone at the time.

    You can't make your mom participate. If she would rather wallow in her grief, that is her decision. I think you should go ahead with holiday plans, enjoy the camaraderie, and invite them anyway. If they come, great. If not, that's unfortunate. Feelings of grief are easier to carry when the weight is shared, particularly with others sharing the funny stories and good memories of the person gone.
    Jer 29: 11-13


    2 members found this post helpful.

  4. #4
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    Quote Originally Posted by Perfect Pony View Post
    You should do what feels right to you. Hiding from feelings doesn't make them go away. "Celebrating" the holidays could be an opportunity to celebrate the life of your sibling, and support each other in your grief. I am sorry your mother is shutting down like this
    My father's mother died December 1, 2011. She was buried on December 10. The family gatherings had already splintered off years before. Some of my cousins took the opportunity to get back in touch with each other. Others kept the status quo of no contact.

    My mother's mother died December 22, 2001. Her funeral was December 26. My family still gathered and shared stories and food/gifts. I made Grandma's special frosting. One cousin couldn't bring himself to eat the cake, but that was OK. We all grieved her loss in our own way. Christmas was her favorite time of year, so I chose to see her happy spirit in the lights and decorations. She's my own Christmas Angel.

    Do what feels right to you, but make sure you leave the door open for your mother to join in at her own pace.
    I'm not arguing, I'm just explaining why I'm right
    Violence doesn't end violence. It extends it. Break the cycle.


    2 members found this post helpful.

  5. #5
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    Mar. 23, 2005
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    Quote Originally Posted by Aggie4Bar View Post

    You can't make your mom participate. If she would rather wallow in her grief, that is her decision.
    That's pretty harsh... it's been less than a year so I'd hardly refer to her sense of loss as "wallow in her grief." I think it is particularly hard for mothers to lose a child - grown or not. Perhaps it is still taking all of her energy just to put one foot in front of the other to get through a non-holiday day... maybe by next year she'll be able to participate with the rest of her family.


    7 members found this post helpful.

  6. #6
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    Each person has to deal with death in their own way. Whatever works best for you is the best way to do it. It is the same for your mom, and if she thinks that working that day will be easier for her, so be it. I don't think that's wallowing in grief, I think it's a grown woman who lost a her child dealing with her grief on that day the way she wants to deal with it. Her grief is about her, just as your grief is about you.

    I am so sorry for your loss. My dad died last year, and it just sucks.
    EDDIE WOULD GO


    5 members found this post helpful.

  7. #7
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    May. 20, 2005
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    The first holidays, anniversaries and birthdays after a death are the hardest for everyone. It gets better over time, but the loss of a child is particularly difficult for parents. We expect the older generation to be the first to go, not the children.

    Give your Mom space to grieve in her own way. Go ahead and celebrate Christmas the way YOU want. If that includes giving your Mom a gift, do it! The holidays are a time to gather, grieve together, reminisce, laugh. Your Mom is hurting. Hopefully, time will ease her pain, but nothing will take away the loss she feels.

    My thoughts and prayers are with you and your family.


    7 members found this post helpful.

  8. #8
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    Aug. 18, 2012
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    This is my second christmas after the death of my brother he was only 24. First christmas was hard. First everything was. I got my mom nothing for Xmas the first year as she asked. Along with her birthday. This year I'm getting her a finger imprint necklace of my brother finger print. What I did was I didn't talk to about Xmas or work functions. It's hard for her to realize other people moving on and forgetting about my brother (her words) it's hard for parents to bury kids. But do what you feel is right. PM me if you need to talk I felt like people forgot I lost a brother and a best friend and just focused on my mom's loss.
    Eyes up, heels down, shoulders back, straight ahead, breathe, smile, love the feel, savor the ride.


    2 members found this post helpful.

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by RainyDayRide View Post
    That's pretty harsh... it's been less than a year so I'd hardly refer to her sense of loss as "wallow in her grief." I think it is particularly hard for mothers to lose a child - grown or not. Perhaps it is still taking all of her energy just to put one foot in front of the other to get through a non-holiday day... maybe by next year she'll be able to participate with the rest of her family.
    This is well said. Each person processes grief in their own way, and must be given the time to do so.

    I remember the first Christmas after my mom died, I chose not to be with my family but went away with a friend instead. My mom loved everything about Christmas and I couldn't bear to face it without her. Thankfully, my family understood and didn't create any family drama over it.

    Do what feels best for you. Your mom is lucky to have such a sensitive daughter.
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  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by jenm View Post

    Do what feels best for you. Your mom is lucky to have such a sensitive daughter.
    Our oldest son was killed by a drunk driver three weeks before Christmas twelve years ago, I should remember what we did but that time to me is lost... what I do remember was the sensitivity and thoughtfulness of our son's friends who gave my wife presents in our son's name they thought Mark would have given her

    To this day they also make sure she is remembered on Mother's Day by sending her flowers or gift in our son's name


    9 members found this post helpful.

  11. #11
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    Sorry for your loss and I'm sorry that your mom isn't up to having Christmas celebrations yet. Everyone processes these things differently and there is no right or wrong.

    My very beloved Grandma passed away last Monday, right before Thanksgiving. When my mom called to tell me, she said that she wasn't sure if we'd have a Thanksgiving (we were hosting and expecting my parents, aunt/uncle + 2 kids, and my sister and her husband). The funeral director urged her to wait to bury my grandma until after the Holiday, and everyone resolved to still come. There were lots of tears, but also lots of laughter and fond remembrance of our beautiful Grandma/mom. It was honestly the best thing we could have done for our family. We were all planning on spending Christmas at her house and we are all still going so my Grandpa has a house full of people with him. Again, it will be sad, but I'm sure there will also be a lot of happiness too.
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  12. #12
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    Been there, done this several times. I would say that each person deserves the respect of others to allow them to work through this (or not) as they choose. That means your mom should be given the space she is asking for. Instead of forcing a gift into the situation, perhaps you could take her out to coffee or to lunch at a later date. It would probably be more appreciated.
    "The difference between genius and stupidity is that genius has its limits." Albert Einstein

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  13. #13
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    Thanks for the advice everyone. Is it appropriate to get my stepfather a gift or ask him to come over for dinner or snackys?



  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by enjoytheride View Post
    Thanks for the advice everyone. Is it appropriate to get my stepfather a gift or ask him to come over for dinner or snackys?
    I think the invitation is a nice thought. He may decline out of respect for your mother, but no doubt he will appreciate you thinking of him.

    And if you feel like giving him a gift, you should.

    Of course you could always celebrate Kwanzaa or Boxing Day. That eliminates all of the non-Christmas problems!

    Last edited by jenm; Dec. 7, 2013 at 11:19 PM. Reason: changed a word
    Proud owner of a Slaughter-Bound TB from a feedlot, and her surprise baby...!
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  15. #15

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    On December 5, my beloved daughter in law miscarried our second granddaughter at 37 weeks. The depth of heartbreak is bottomless and I don't feel much like celebrating this year. I am following this thread, but what I plan to do is what ever J's parents wish.

    For Aggiewhoeveryouare, wallowing in grief? Really?


    4 members found this post helpful.

  16. #16
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    My father died on December 17th when I was 17. Nobody was feeling much like celebrating but there were very young grandchildren and a big family with traditions. We still all gathered at my mother's and carried on. It was hard but we remembered, commiserated and got through it. My father had arranged for a Christmas gift for my mother so that was a nice, if heartbreaking, surprise. It gets easier as the years pass. But the season will always have a tinge of sadness for me.

    OP - do what feels right for you. Buy your mom a gift if you want to. Extend the invitation but be prepared for the answer to be "No."


    2 members found this post helpful.

  17. #17
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    Everybody needs something different for their grief. Respect her desires for herself, but do what you need. I think there is no harm in a little invite to your stepdad, though I bet he'll respectfully pass. Maybe suggest a New Year's Day dinner with them? Start a new tradition?

    The first Christmas or two after my dad died, we tried to do our typical, more traditional Christmas. It was ok, but definitely felt very different. Since then, we have slowly morphed the holiday into something that is more appropriate for the family we are now. Certainly haven't forgotten Dad, but the traditions we had with him are too painful to continue without. It works for us. It doesn't make it wrong.

    Do what you need and let your mom do what she needs.


    1 members found this post helpful.

  18. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by RainyDayRide View Post
    That's pretty harsh... it's been less than a year so I'd hardly refer to her sense of loss as "wallow in her grief." I think it is particularly hard for mothers to lose a child - grown or not. Perhaps it is still taking all of her energy just to put one foot in front of the other to get through a non-holiday day... maybe by next year she'll be able to participate with the rest of her family.
    It might be a bit harsh, but expecting for the world to stop turning...well, that's harsh as well.

    So yes, OP, do as you feel is right. Invite mom and stepdad.
    I'd maybe skip the gift for her this time, hold it for a different occasion. It could really set her off otherwise. But a card, reminding her that there are still kids there who love her.
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  19. #19
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    Everyone handles it in their own way.

    My father died on Dec 2, 2008. My two sisters and I decided that we would each do something completely different for Christmas that year - that wouldn't bring back too maky still-raw memories. My husband and I went on a cruise. One ssiter went to stay in a B&B

    The next year we had a "normal" Christmas.

    Let your mother handle it her way, but you handle it your way.
    Janet

    chief feeder and mucker for Music, Spy, Belle and Tiara. Someone else is now feeding and mucking for Chief and Brain (both foxhunting now).


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  20. #20
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    My mother died 12/1/1990. Christmas time didn't feel right for some time after that. Then we started spending time with my eventual-stepmother-to-be's next door neighbors on Christmas Eve (as her family had done before her 1st husband died.) Holidays became something to look forward to again. Then the father next door died close to Christmas one year, and we never spent another holiday with that family again. Once again, holidays seemed pretty meaningless.

    Now this is my first holiday season without my Dad, who I usually only saw on holidays. I worked Thanksgiving, so didn't miss him then. I wonder if Christmas will be an emotional event; so far I feel like I don't believe he's gone. Going over to their house without him there has been so non-weird that it's weird.

    If your mother is working Christmas, why not get together with your stepfather while she's at work? You also said she didn't mind receiving presents, so go ahead and get her one if you want to.



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