Dear Mary Pat,
I don’t feel like celebrating Christmas this year. I’m grieving the loss of my wife who passed only a few months ago. I know my kids want me to put on a happy face for my grandchildren, but I’m not sure I can pull it off. I’m not sure I even want to drive to stay with them this year. Would it be awful if I just stayed home?
Baileys Harbor, Wis.
Dear Grief Stricken,
It is natural for you to feel this way. The first year after a loss like you’ve experienced is a series of gut punches and disbelief. I’m sure Thanksgiving was really tough for you as well. On one hand I can see the value of staying home and not driving down to be with your family. On the other hand, however, I think that you will probably feel more comfort being with those who love you. Your kids probably don’t expect you to be radiantly happy. They are also grieving. There is also comfort in being around those who knew the one who passed. Talk to your kids now before you arrive and share your feelings with them. You’ll probably find that they don’t expect you to be perfect.
Emotions will well up and there’s nothing to do except experience them in full force. If it gets to be too much, you can go off on your own and have a good cry or consider leaving early, but I would try being with your family if at all possible.
This is going to be a long road and talking about it is the best way to process it. Talk to other widowers and widows who have gone through this. Talk to your kids. Talk to your pastor, priest, or a counselor. There is also a grief support group that meets the second Thursday of the month at Immanuel Lutheran Church in Baileys Harbor at 7 pm. (Door of Hope, Grief & Loss Support Group, 920.868.9471).
Even in your sadness, I hope that you do find a little joy and peace this season.