Family Matters
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1st Christmas after a death in the family

My Papa passed away in June of this year. DH and I have only been back to our hometown once since his passing. (for Papa's funeral) I don't think I really grieved his death while I was there and have had some bad days since. I am not sure how seeing the family will go (we are leaving in 2 days and will be there for 2 weeks) I just don't want to spend the entire time there mourning his lose.

I am just wondering if anyone he ever been in this situation before and what they did to make the holidays easier.

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Re: 1st Christmas after a death in the family

  • I am so sorry for your loss. Just try to concentrate on good things and not dwell on your grandfather.

    The year that my dad died (in Oct) I pretty much ruined Christmas for my whole family. I sat and cried through the whole get together. I just could not make myself stop. Looking back I wish that I would have just went home, instead of making everyone so uncomfortable.

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  • When this happened in our family we took time to let ourselves notice the differences. We noticed X was different and that was sad because Pa wasn't there anymore. But this was off to the side not during dinner or present opening. Kind of a quiet way to not pretend things were just the same and okay, but also not let it ruin the holiday. 
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  • Well, if you need the whole 2 weeks to mourn and to be there to do it, that is what you need to do.

    You will have your good and bad moments while you are there. That is what happens and that is how we slowly move on. There is no way to make it easier and no 2 people go through it the same way, but just stop worrying about it and deal with it one day art a time.

  • Coming from my own experience, I just needed to accept that I was sad, grieving and that is ok.  It is ok to be sad and ok to cry considering what happened.  Don't try to stifle your feelings too much and accept them. 
  • I went through this two years ago. My grandpa died in October about two weeks before my birthday actually.  I may have had a complete breakdown and un-decorated my house for Halloween one day because I was so upset.  Christmas was pretty bad to  say the least.  I think throughout Christmas eve one person at seperate times broke down crying.  My DH was great and tried his hardest to make it as normal of a holiday for me as he could.  I hope it's not to bad of Christmas for you.
  • The first Christmas without my mom was really, really hard.  They still are, but that first one (ten years ago) was the worst.  I chose to preserve the happy memories with my mom and I never open gifts Christmas morning at my dad's.  Instead we do it at my grandparents. Its just too hard.  Other than that, everything is the same.  Often times, we share memories of her and I usually have some quiet time to myself where I reflect.  I am sure that everyone in your family will be grieving this year.  For me it was easier when everyone else was feeling what I was feeling.  But harder in the years to come  when it seemed like everyone had "forgotten".  Just allow yourself to mourn your loss.  ((HUGS))

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  • My Dad just died in October (on the same day we euthanized my 14 year old dog) after a short illness, so this is my first Christmas without him. My theory? Anything I feel is ok. Mad,sad? Whatever.


    I don't know day-to day how I am going to feel, so I am not going to begin to predict  how a major holiday will feel. Also? I am not to worry about any one else.


    I think you need to feel what you do, and don't feel bad about it. You can't make the holidays feel easier, or anything else. Just feel what you will and don't worry about anyone else.

  • Everybody grieves differently, so trying to figure out what it's going to be like and what you should do or say, is not going to work.

    That being said, I lost my mom 10 days before Christmas, and DH's dad died on Thanksgiving day when he was a boy (it was one of the things we initially bonded on).  The first Christmas was awful, but we all felt it....aunts, uncles, cousins, etc.  I honestly think it was worse for me because I have two brothers, and my dad, but being a daughter, you miss your mom.  My mom has been gone for over 20 years.  Every year on the anniversary of her death, my cousin texts me a message that says she's thinking about me today...very sweet.

    We've managed to replace the sad memories with more happy memories.  I will tell you that the day after my mom passed, I went ahead and attended a Christmas party at my friends house...and I'm so glad I did.  Everyone was just super, and I knew I was surrounded by wonderful friends who helped hold me up from a very difficult time...

  • One of my grandmothers died just before Christmas one year. She was pretty healthy until a few weeks beforehand, so it was a shock. She loved Christmas, and seeing us all open presents from her. She already had her presents bought for the year and wrapped for that year too, which was so like her and bittersweet.

     We had a candle with her picture on it from the funeral which we had lit in the middle of the Christmas table, and we talked about her in our grace. It was very very hard, but knowing how much she would still want us to have a good time it was important that we still celebrate the way we always did.

     We have also continued her tradition of the angel tree giving. Every year she picked two boys and a girl off of a tree and bought gifts for them, since that was how many grandkids she had. Each of us are grown now, so we go out and do the same. I always think of her when I buy my gifts for the girl I picked.

    To me, it is about honoring the happy memories of that person. That isn't to say you don't miss them, but I want to pay forward those memories to others.

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  • Thanx everyone! I will just have to see how this trip is going to go. DH is veru supportive of me, he lost his grandpa on Christmas eve 2 years ago.

    I will get through this I will just need time!

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  • this will be my 3rd xmas w/out my brother. He passed away at 20...2 years ago in November. Christmas is still absolutely horrible..especially knowing it was his favorite holiday.  Hang in there..holidays are so hard. :( I plan on burning a candle for him and saying a little prayer.
  • First, I wanted to say I'm sorry for your loss.  This will be my first Christmas without my grandpa as well.  He passed away in February, and I already cry just thinking about spending Christmas without him.  He passed away 3 days after my birthday, and the last time I spoke with him was on my birthday.  I spent a week in my hometown after he passed, helping my mom settle his affairs.  It wasn't until a month laster, when DH and I went back for another visit that it really hit me.  The first time back is always hard, and let yourself feel whatever you need to.  I remember being okay helping my aunt sort through things at grandpa's house until it was time to leave.  That's when it hit me that it was no longer grandpa's house, and I stood there and bawled like a baby.  Now my cousin and her new husband live in that house, and I still get sad visiting them, but we are filling it with new memories and lots of love, just like grandpa would've wanted.
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  • I'm not sure if your "Papa" was your father or your grandfather.  Either way, I'm sorry for your loss.

    My grandmother died in October of 2006.  The holidays that year were pretty tough.  They were really hard on my dad, who was her only child, and only a little easier for my mom, my sister, my kids, and I.  I'm not going to lie -- tears were shed by all and sundry off and on during Christmas Day.

    We didn't try to pretend that things were "okay."  We just passed around the tissues and admitted that this was going to be hard to get used to.  We hugged a lot, and we even laughed at how weird it felt to be crying on Christmas Day.

    I think it's important to allow yourself to feel whatever you feel.  If you seem to be the only one getting emotional, and it's making others uncomfortable, excuse yourself and let it out.  If others are feeling the same way, and you can experience it together, it can be therapeutic.  But it's probably not helpful to try to hide your feelings, or pretend like nothing's bothering you.

    Hang in there -- it gets less acute every year. 

  • For us, it wasnt dad, it was my brother. He passed away suddenly 1 week after my daughter was born in Jan 2009.

    The first christmas was very hard. You wont spend the whole time in mourning, because you have family and family will want to catch up, discuss eachothers lives. I doubt it will be a cry fest for 2 weeks.

    Some things you can do to bring the mood up if needed ( a day or two mourning is going to happen, and random times during the 2 weeks) Discuss the fun things that happened with papa. Reflect on the good times, steer away from topics such as how much you miss him and wish he was here. Talk about the things happening in the family here and now.

     this will be christmas #3 for us, and already there have been a few moments on the phone when we have all struggled.

    But you will be o.k. You will be able to enjoy christmas present, and remember christmas past without crying constantly.

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  • I'm so sorry for your loss. My dad died a few years ago, and every Christmas Eve I choke up a bit singing "Silent Night" because I can still remember the sound of him singing it. I really don't know how to make it easier, but on Christmas and his birthday I try to do at least one small thing in Dad's honor/memory that I know he would have enjoyed.
  • First I am sorry for your loss.

    Secondly, I am in the same boat right now.  I'm half as$ing Christmas this year...I don't want to decorate, but I'm gift giving to others.  I want a simple christmas this year, and be around my family. That's all.  No crazy parties, no insane GTGs....I just want to survive this year.  I went Christmas shopping for my family, and I saw my grandmother who passed (last month) in everything. 

    This sux.


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  • Yes its hard. Im sorry for you loss. Im in the same boat. my dad passed away this sept 2011 from cancer. the holidays dont feel the same. days by really fast and then you realize that you passed through thanksgiving without thinking about it..
  • To all of you who have lost a loved one - you are in my thoughts and prayers. Truly.

    Those first year of holidays after a loved one is gone is so difficult. And even after the first year, they are never the same. As PPs said, everyone grieves in their own ways. My dad died suddenly of a heart attack at 61 in '09 - it still affects my family.

    I had my first son in January of 2011 and now I'm feeling everything about missing my dad again. He never got a chance to meet Oliver. My son's first Christmas (and upcoming first birthday) and my dad is not here to celebrate them - it always seems to be something.

    But now we've come to reminisce about my dad while we discuss how much we miss him. He shows up in bits and pieces and that's all we can do to make things easier.


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