Holidays for grieving parents can be a nightmare. Often times, the anticipation leading up to the event can literally put a fragile parent in a downward spiral, especially the newly bereaved. We need to know itís all right to decline invitations, to decide NOT to celebrate Holidays the usual way, because what has happened to a mourning parent isnít usual at all.
Friends and family can help make the grief stricken parents survive, by offering alternatives and supporting them in their decision. Some parents find doing the routine of Holidays past can be healing, some set a place at the table for their departed child. Some parents leave town, and go somewhere that they arenít constantly reminded of their loss, instead of having the traditional family gathering. This helps them get through the painful reminder that their child is no longer with them to celebrate. Other parents do nothing at all.
No matter what your choice, this Holiday season, remember it is your choice and no one has the right to tell you how you should or should not celebrate. Your life is different, now, you are a different person. Learning how to live your life after the death of a child takes time mixed with tears. How much time? How many tears? No one can answer that for you. It has been 10 years since my son, Kelly, died. Each holiday brings me to my knees, but knowing this can happen arms me with the knowledge that it will pass. Anticipation, for me and many others, is always worse than the actual Holiday. Our celebrations arenít the same as when my son was alive, they are new traditions that include him. I light a candle in front of his picture, I have his Drummer Boy ornament that is placed near the top of the tree every Christmas, the quilt I made from his favorite T-shirts rests on the back of my chair. I sing to him, at the cemetery, as I decorate his crypt for each season, Holiday, Birthday, and Angel Day. I could never forget my child, I carry him with me constantly.
Now, as Thanksgiving looms, I am becoming anxious & sad. I find myself aching for one more hug, one more chance to hear the sound of his infectious laughter. On Thanksgiving Day, I will give thanks for the 28 years we were given. Thanks for being his Mother. Thanks for all the lessons he has taught me both in life and in death.
In loving memory of Kelly Arthur Hubenthal
August 7, 1967 to June 29, 1996
Forever in our hearts, with love.