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Today is the first day of a new year and I couldn’t be happier about it. You see December, instead of being the happiest time of the year for me, is the saddest. It’s a sharp reminder of my love that’s missing; of truly beautiful Christmases past that will never be again, or even come close. 

When your spouse dies, your heart is shattered and there is pain and emptiness beyond what you could ever imagine that nothing and no one can fill.

To make it worse, December was our wedding anniversary month. We both loved Christmas so much, why not get married in a season of boundless joy? So we did and for 32 years this was the bliss every December would bring. Our tree went up the day after Thanksgiving (and what a tree it was!) and it was this way every year until it all unraveled in 2017. This was the year of a health calamity that ended up taking my husband away from me by that October. So now in October, when the fall colors are at their gorgeous zenith, it is a bittersweet harbinger of the death anniversary to come and then after that, the swirl of holidays from Thanksgiving past Christmas. Oh yes, and an extra dose of sadness is the wedding anniversary thrown in at mid-December.  

Some (formerly) good friends of mine asked me if I hated Christmas. No, I certainly don’t, but the fact is, it’s an intensely painful time of year.  Unless you’ve gone through this, you don’t have the slightest grasp of what this feels like. Yes, there are tons of great memories, but you can’t spend all your time just reflecting on and living in the past. It’s a sharp, constant reminder of everything that I’ve lost and will never see again this side of the grave.

I am moving forward, slowly. I’m making new friends and doing new things. (Still, I’d give anything to have the old days back, when everyone was healthy and holidays really were joyous.) 

As I sit watching the snow blow gently around outside, I am making a nice dinner for one, but not with exceeding sadness. This is more of a personal demonstration to myself about not willing to be overtaken by grief, sadness or despair. Hard as it is, I begin this new year with every intense wish for it to be a good year. And I will put effort into trying to make it happen wherever that may lead.

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Comment by Starfish5 on May 23, 2019 at 5:33pm

Hi John. I have to tell you, it's an uphill battle. I know what you mean about dreading the upcoming holidays (even though they seem far away now) when everyone seems HAPPY.  I have decided never to even try to do Christmas as we used to do it. It's less painful that way, and it does free you up in a sense. To have a wedding anniversary in December is like being stabbed in the heart again and again due to the Christmas factor. It's bad enough that the holidays are there, but then when you add a wedding anniversary, it's almost too much to bear. 

I was able to find a support group that met every week (GriefShare) and it helped me immensely.  I am slowly wrapping my head around this aloneness, though I will never really be used to it. I'd give anything to have my life the way it used to be, but since that's not possible I can only go forward, one step at a time. This is by far the hardest thing I've ever had to do in my life. I never would have chosen this, and I cannot spend my life consumed with intense grief (and thus waste whatever time I have left here). Our loved ones would never want us to be lost in grief forever. 

I wish you strength because that is what you need every single day.

Comment by pricytapestry on May 23, 2019 at 9:19am

Thank you for writing this, my wife passed last October and I suspect the only way I made it through Christmas and our December anniversary is I simply was still to numb to really feel. It is only May and I am dreading next fall and the holiday season. I found your words about not living in the past, moving forward and doing new things encouraging and will be keeping them in mind.

Again Thank You

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