I’m here for you… Send a care package to a widow this year!

Help a widow feel the love. After loss you can show you care. Send a care package to a widow or make one for yourself.

As an overwhelmed and unexpected widow, I had no idea how to respond to the heart given cry “call me if you need anything”.

I, of course, had no idea what I would need or how much my life was about to change.

During the first month or so I was so fortunate to be gifted with gift cards, friend visits and even meals. Being surrounded by loved ones and keeping busy is helpful. But after those first few weeks, most people return to their regular lives and the new widow is beginning to adjust to her new normal.

For many people experiencing the loss of a loved one, moments of grief continue to surprise us.  More and more stories are being shared of how lonely people are after the loss of a family member.  Now with the coronavirus pandemic, loneliness is even more prevalent. As people age and find it harder to leave the home, life can become even more lonely.

I have written about fighting the fear or the reality of being a sad and lonely widow How to NOT be a Stay at Home, Lonely Widow.  But I am a young 58 year old and I am determined to enjoy my life and continue to experience all I can and find joy in each day.

That being said, I remember how when I was in my saddest moments, the kindness and unexpected notes, meals or even comments on Facebook, really made my day.

Continue reading “I’m here for you… Send a care package to a widow this year!”

Procrastinating during the holidays is Sometimes a Good Idea

Procrastinating during the holidays can help the widow deal with grief and loss on her own time.

After Thanksgiving it’s easy to get caught up in the rush and frenzy of Christmas. Keeping busy may be helpful, or maybe you just don’t feel the holiday spirit after the loss of a loved one.  It’s Ok to not do anything somedays.  Other times, you may find yourself lost in a copy of the book that resembles, “If you give a mouse a cookie” by Laura Numeroff and spend the day chasing squirrels.  That is OK too.  Widows get a pass on living up to the expectations we women have burdened ourselves with.  It’s been six years for me now, but I enjoyed reading my post about the second year when I wanted to get back into the swing of the holiday season, but needed a little help.

Decorating for Christmas was definitely on my to do list, I just kept putting it on the bottom.  The idea of digging out all my favorite memories that I had collected over the years for the Christmas tree, kept me frozen with apprehension.

My first year as a widow I avoided the Holidays and traveled. I ran away and didn’t participate in many of my favorite traditions. The cruise during Christmas week to the Caribbean with my 2 sons was perfect for the first year. I never put out any decorations and I was fine with that. A Different Christmas is OK, especially after the loss of a loved one.

The decision was made to decorate on this year 2 and I was planning to do it.  I was going to do it… after I made myself some breakfast.

While I was making home fries, an omelet and coffee, I searched for a piece of paper so I could make a to do list.  After brunch, my puppy started barking.  I was sure he needed a walk so off we went.

When I got back from the walk I noticed that my yard needed a good clean up.

I took out the power tools – a noisy leaf blower.  I started blowing leaves all over the back yard. Once the deck was cleared and the rest pushed to the sides of the yard I thought I would start decorating inside.

But then I noticed the bird feeder was empty.  I have a thing about blue jays and cardinals.  I feel like  my husband and my dad send them to me to comfort me.  It was time to get some bird food.  That was really important.  So I found the car keys and put on a hat.  Off to  do some shopping.

At the garden store, I picked up 20 pounds of bird seed, 75 feet of white pine roping and a 15 inch fake Christmas tree.  I wasn’t ready to pull out all the boxes of ornaments but felt that the small tree with some pretty new decorations would spruce up the house.

Continue reading “Procrastinating during the holidays is Sometimes a Good Idea”

Remembering loved ones on their birthday

It has been six years since Mike has been here to celebrate his birthday but I always think of him on his birthday, the fourth of July. He loved having his birthday on the fourth as people always celebrated and had a party on that day, even fireworks! This year he would have been 58 and for 30 plus years we shared those holidays together.

Mike always remembered to hang up the American flag on his birthday. He grew up in a family where his dad made everyone stand and salute when the national anthem was played at the beginning of a sports game. His respect for our country was admirable and Mike loved to read about the history of our country. Celebrating our democratic process and understanding the importance of our laws led him to pursue his undergraduate degree at UCSD in political science and then his law degree from Hofstra University.

After living in San Diego for 8 years in our 20s, we moved back to New York so Mike could attend law school and we lived at home with my parents. Those days were wonderful and filled with the laughter from our two young boys. In 2002 we moved into our first home as a family in the same school district where I worked as a kindergarten teacher. It was a 1960s high ranch with a big yard on a quiet street, everything we could want.

While the house was great, it was a bit outdated. The countertops in the kitchen were a pale pink formica. I covered the vinyl floors in the kitchen with checkered black and white, peel and stick tiles. We ripped out the old carpets to discover wood floors which we could not afford to sand and stain yet and the white shingles on the house were turning a deeper shade of gray.

That didn’t matter to us. The best part about this house was that the yard had a pool! It was a large above ground 30 foot in diameter round structure. Most people could stand in it since the depth was about 4 feet. I had never had my own pool before and to me this was the status symbol that we had made it. We had a swimming pool.

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11 Ways to Survive the Holidays after the Loss of a Loved one

11 ways to help survive this holiday season and maybe even find some joy

“I am totally not decorating this year!”

That’s what I said the first time I drove past someone’s festively decorated home the year that my husband died.

That first Thanksgiving without my husband was the toughest.  I was not prepared.  I don’t think I could have been.   My brother in law and his wife generously offered to make all the food and bring it over to my house.  My boys were home from college and my in-laws wanted to see them.

I provided the wine which I started drinking very early that day.  It was awkward.  We all missed Mike but didn’t know how to approach his absence.  We ate.  We talked about stuff.  Some of us drank a bit too much.  We were together and not alone so that helped.

I remember wanting to just spend the day in my pajamas and order a pizza but I went along with the tradition of having family together.  I cried all weekend.  Grief is hard and the holidays only get worse.

This year will be different for many of us as we limit the size of our get togethers due to the COVID-19 pandemic.  We will be happy to see 2020 shut the door. We are hopeful that 2021 will leave the chaos of riots, the polarity of the election, and the wariness of the virus behind.

For people dealing with the first holiday season without a loved one, this time of year can be simply awful. My first year as a widow I practiced the title of this blog and was a runawaywidow after that first holiday.

For Christmas I booked a week long cruise to the Caribbean with my 2 sons.  We slept together in a tiny cabin with 3 bunks.  Eating and drinking in the sunshine was different from a week in New York and we even swam with dolphins on Christmas morning.  I had been determined to do something different.  In addition, I did not send cards.  I did not decorate my house.  I did not buy presents for anyone. I did not go to church. I just disappeared or ran away from the idea of the holiday. 

Widows get a pass that first year so take it if you need it.

As the dates get closer this year I recognize that I may have waves where the grief hits me again.  They still come unexpectedly but I have learned to ride them. I know to let the feelings hit and that I will be OK.  

 Learning to acknowledge my feelings and not always run away from them has been difficult. I love the analogy that my widowed aunt sent me after my husband died.

That the journey through grief is like treading down a road with potholes.  In the beginning, the holes are big and wide.  It seems you may never get out.  Over time, the potholes are still there, but they do get smaller and come along less frequently.

Knowing that waves of sadness or tears will come, and that “this too shall pass” allows me to keep moving forward. Here are some suggestions that have helped me get through grief during the holidays when it is getting tough.

Continue reading “11 Ways to Survive the Holidays after the Loss of a Loved one”

GRIEF – It’s OK to say their name

It’s OK to say their name. Life after loss of a spouse. Complicated grief. Memorials and celebrating the birthday of a loved one.

After spending the past thirty 4th of July’s together, which was also my husband’s birthday, grief comes back full swing and is one of the more difficult holidays to get through for me.

Year one I made a nice Facebook post with photos. Then I made sure to be away from home. My brother and sister and mom and our kids joined us in Cape Cod for a family reunion. This ensured a good distraction and no one really mentioned Mike. Avoiding pain and sadness was my immediate goal. My family was hopeful that I’d be OK, so I was.

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A Funny Christmas Gift to Remember

The best gifts of Christmas are smiles and laughter with the ones you love

Christmas in our home was always the best holiday. We had record albums playing over and over on the stereo. Mitch Miller and the band would sing a bit and then tell us all to “gather round”. That was our favorite part.

On Christmas Eve my brother would get presents early in the day. It was OK because it was his birthday and that was fair. Usually.

Then later in the afternoon we would have a party for David. Neighbors would come too and then Santa would stop by. His sack would deliver for each of us the first gift of Christmas, then he would scurry on after eating a few homemade cookies – he had a busy night ahead of him so we understood and we hugged our new toys in joy.

A few years later Santa stopped coming to our house early on Christmas Eve. But we were blessed that my grandmother who lived not too far away would visit and spend the night.

Continue reading “A Funny Christmas Gift to Remember”

Setting Goals for the Holidays after Loss

Setting goals for the holidays after loss of a loved one are helpful. Finding ways to honor family and survive one day at a time.

Thanksgiving is coming up this week and I am definitely in a different place than I was 4 years ago.

I am treading lightly towards this holiday season.  In some ways it will be wonderfully new and fresh.  I am recently married and we will enjoy our holiday season together and start to create some new traditions.

However, the elephant in the room is the recent passing of my mom.

I haven’t really let myself grieve about that yet.  Sometimes we runaway from our feelings without actually traveling to the opposite side of the earth and I think I have been visiting that place the past month but it is starting to catch up with me.

Continue reading “Setting Goals for the Holidays after Loss”

How to Survive the Holidays after the Loss of a Loved One

How to deal with the holidays as a widow struggling with grief and loss.

“I am totally not decorating this year!”

That’s what I said the first time I drove past someone’s festively decorated home the day after Thanksgiving.

That first Thanksgiving without my husband was the toughest.  I was not prepared.  I don’t think I could have been.   My brother in law and his wife generously offered to make all the food and bring it over to my house.  My boys were home from college and my in-laws wanted to see them.

I provided the wine which I started drinking very early that day.  It was awkward.  We all missed Mike but didn’t know how to approach his absence.  We ate.  We talked about stuff.  Some of us drank a bit too much.  We were together and not alone so that helped.

I remember wanting to just spend the day in my pajamas and order a pizza but I went along with the tradition of having family together.  I cried all weekend.  Grief is hard and the holidays only get worse.

This year will be different for many of us as we limit the size of our get togethers due to the COVID-19 pandemic.  We will be happy to see 2020 shut the door, and we are hopeful that 2021 will leave the chaos of riots, the polarity of the election, and the wariness of the virus behind.

For people dealing with the first holiday season without a loved one, this time of year can be just simply awful. My first year as a widow I practiced the title of this blog and was a runawaywidow after that first holiday.

For Christmas I booked a week long cruise to the Caribbean with my 2 sons.  We slept together in a tiny cabin with 3 bunks.  Eating and drinking in the sunshine was different from a week in New York and we even swam with dolphins on Christmas morning.  I had been determined to do something different.  In addition, I did not send cards.  I did not decorate my house.  I did not buy presents for anyone. I did not go to church. I just disappeared or ran away from the idea of the holiday.

Widows get a pass that first year so take it if you need it.

As the dates get closer I may have waves where the grief hits me again.  They still come unexpectedly but I have learned to ride them. I know to let the feelings hit and that I will be OK.

Learning to acknowledge my feelings and not always run away from them has been difficult. I love the analogy that my aunt sent me after my husband died and I became an unexpected widow.  

That the journey through grief is like treading down a road with potholes.  In the beginning, the holes are big and wide.  It seems you may never get out.  Over time, the potholes are still there, but they do get smaller and come along less frequently.

Continue reading “How to Survive the Holidays after the Loss of a Loved One”

Moving Forward. My Journey: Widow – Dating – Fiancé

Moving forward as a widow after loss of a spouse. Dating to engagement over the holidays.

No doubt it doesn’t always happen this way.

I never expected to be a widow. I was a working mom and wife.  My kids had both gone off to college. My husband and I discussed different retirement scenarios.  It was going to be easier now.  We could relax a bit.  Not work as hard and maybe do some traveling.

It did not work out that way for us.

One week after we dropped our youngest off at college, my husband was gone.

He would not be coming back no matter how unreal and how unfair and wrong this all was.  He was gone and I would have to come to grips with that, eventually.

I ran away.

After a few doses of reality around the holidays that first year, I was anxious to avoid the whole thing. I did not take out the holiday decorations that Christmas.   Opening the boxes of ornaments and dealing with all those memories was too much for me.  Seeing happy families decorating their homes gave me literal pain in my heart.  I love baking Christmas cookies and sending out cards but avoided those favorite seasonal activities as well.

Instead, I booked a cruise to the Caribbean Islands with my 2 sons for the last week of 2015.

Continue reading “Moving Forward. My Journey: Widow – Dating – Fiancé”

HOLIDAY EXHAUSTION

The lights on the houses are pretty and I do like the holiday decorations in my home but, I can not handle the overwhelming sense of tiredness I am feeling today.

I have been moving forward at a good clip this past year.  I did some traveling.  Made some new friends.  Gained followers on my blog.

In addition as a widow, I continue to be the only parent for my two sons who are now home from school.  I teach Kindergarten full time.  I maintain and run the household which recently included another infestation of squirrels and purchasing a brand new boiler.

Add to that the shorter, colder days.  The stress of buying presents and planning celebrations with others.  Going to parties and rushing around after work.  Oh, and did I mention I just joined a gym because my last annual visit to the doctor showed I needed to make some positive changes in my lifestyle, like exercise?

No wonder I am exhausted.

I would really like to just curl up in bed, in a dark room with my puppy and take a long winter’s nap.

Well, this is a short post –  all the time I have for today. I need to take Harry for his walk, mail out the 19 Christmas cards I decided to do at the last minute, put on my pajamas for Kindergarten (It is pajama day) and of course an ugly sweater for the staff breakfast.

I just wanted to thank you all for reading.  I have been nominated for 2 awards this past week.  One as a travel blogger and one as a widow blogger.
Widow Blogs

That made me feel really good and I hope that my writing is hopeful and healing for others as it has been for me.  If you have any tips for extra energy this time of year, please comment below.

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