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How to survive christmas after bereavement

(32 Posts)
CountryMummy1 Sun 02-Nov-14 19:52:09

I am dreading Christmas as it will be the first one without my nan.

Two christmas' ago everything was wonderful. I had my DD after a very difficult time, my grandparents were fit as fleas and completely independent, my little sister just had her 5 years cancer remission and my parents were good too. We have always all spent Chrismas together, for all my 38 years and had super times.

Last Christmas was hell on earth. My grandad was told he had an advanced cancer and needed his leg amputated on Christmas Eve. Luckily my DD was too young to really understand what Christmas was and so it was a very depressing, subdued Christmas as we faced losing Grandad.

Grandad survived and has done very well. He is back up and walking/driving with his prosthetic leg. However, in March my nan went very yellow. She was rushed to hospital and told she had terminal pancreatic cancer. Just 3 weeks later she had a series of catastrophic strokes and was effectively brain dead. However, we had to watch her dying for a week as they withdrew food and fluids.

There is now a huge hole in our family. My grandad has changed so much. He relies on us completely and is very cantankerous and at times, absolutely infuriating. I am sure he is depressed which he would never admit to. He has no hobbies, no interests and won't socialise outside the family.

This year my DD is almost 3 and is so looking forward to Xmas. I have also been blessed with an 8 month old son. I'm so worried that we aren't going to be able to make it good for her as Christmas Day will be so inbearably sad as we sit around the table without my nanny.

Any advice please on how to get through that first difficult Christmas?

JulietBravoJuliet Sun 02-Nov-14 19:59:30

The first Christmas after losing my mum, we decided to do something completely different and went to a restaurant for dinner instead of being at home, where we knew we would just sit around feeling depressed. We came back to mine after so as ds could play with all his toys, and I invited some friends around for drinks and nibbles. It was just a different day to usual so gave us less time to dwell.

ghostyslovesheep Sun 02-Nov-14 20:00:18

oh I'm so sorry thanks

I have no idea I think you just push on through - focus on your DD and her joy and it's okay to have a little cry xxxx

bruffin Sun 02-Nov-14 20:02:16

A year ago today we lost my wonderful MIL. 3 weeks ago we lost my wonderful mum. You just get on with it. Neither my mum or mil would want us sitting around moping. My mum said she wants us to have a party on her birthday every year.
Give a toast to her and carry on as normal

Eva50 Sun 02-Nov-14 20:05:41

This will be my third Christmas without my Mum. The first Christmas was so hard. She spent every Christmas with us so there was a big gap. We used to go to the pantomime together on Christmas Eve and to another family member on Boxing Day so we didn't do these things as it would have been too difficult and I had a few tears into my turkey. But..... Christmas is for the children and my Mum would have been very upset to think that my dc's would have had a miserable time because she wasn't there. We did things a little differently but we still had a enjoyable and peaceful day.

You must arrange things to keep you going. Make things very special for your children and let them bring you joy. Your Nan, like my Mum, had a lot of Christmases and will be there in spirit. It is time for the children now. It will get easier.

Bunbaker Sun 02-Nov-14 20:05:59

I lost my mum the week before Christmas many years ago. It was hard, but I got through it. First anniversaries are always hard after someone dies, but eventually the memories become nostalgic rather than sad.

By the time I was 38 (actually much younger) I had lost both of my parents.

Sorry for your loss.

Finola1step Sun 02-Nov-14 20:10:56

I'm so very sorry for your loss. thanks
Last Christmas was the first one for me without Dad. I thought it was going to be unbearable, but it wasn't. It was ok.

But I made a conscious decision to make it ok. Your dd is now old enough to enjoy all that Christmas entails. As are mine. I made a decision that Christmas isn't about me and my grief, it's about my own children having the lovely day that they deserve.

So my advice to you is this. Chin up and get on with it.

Plan your Christmas for the children. Everyone else will have to go along with it. No one will begrudge the children a lovely day. Yes you will feel rotten at times but if you focus in the little ones, you will get through it and you will enjoy it.

TheFirstOfHerName Sun 02-Nov-14 20:11:52

About to face the first Christmas since we lost my brother in August. Can't say I'm massively looking forward to it, but will try to keep things upbeat for the children.

Doilooklikeatourist Sun 02-Nov-14 20:11:54

Exactly as bruffin says you just have to get on with it

We lost Grandma in the March , then Mum on November the 8th

We still went and spent Christmas with Dad , we stayed the night as we didn't want him to be on his own .
We had a good day , all drank too much and cried and Dad locked himself in his room at 9pm , but on the whole it was as good as it could be
Our DC were aged 4 & 6

Was a crap Christmas for us ( especially as my other Grandma died the day after Boxing day )

Life goes on , don't start worrying about how bad things will be , make new plans , something a teeny bit different and don't wallow

cozietoesie Sun 02-Nov-14 20:17:57

I'm sorry for your loss.

Is it possible that this might be a good year to introduce some new family events - to become 'traditions' for a few years - with the reason given to your Grandad that it's the first Xmas your DD will really remember because she was too small before. I'm sure if you read the Christmas board you'll get many ideas but I'm thinking about things like maybe going to the midnight service with mulled wine after, a special 'Christmas Walk' after breakfast and presents (depending on how you do things) - oh a host of possibilities.

You might have to grit your teeth a bit to smile through it all but your DD will hopefully take it all as a given and see you through it.

lemisscared Sun 02-Nov-14 20:18:41

Christmas lost its magic for me when we lost my lovely dad - 9 years ago and i still feel there is something missing, like im going through the motions. In fact my whole life has changed and not for the better.

BUT i do make the effort for DD1 and DD2, DD2 is just 9 and DD2 is 25 this year. They both love Christmas and its a joy to watch them.

warmgingerbread Sun 02-Nov-14 20:22:28

Same, bun, I'd lost all my parents and grandparents by the age of 16 and my dad died in May when I was 32.

I'm certainly not saying that to sound 'oh others have it worse' but I do think there is possibly some merit to acknowledging you had 38 wonderful years with your grandmother. I love Christmas but people do pass away sadly and it would be a shame if that stopped enjoyment of anything ever again.

Try not to worry too much about your grandad. It really hits men in particular hard when they lose a wife flowers

U2TheEdge Sun 02-Nov-14 20:30:51

My children lost their father on the 13th Dec, last year.

He had cancer and he said he would not die until after he had his last Xmas with his children. He obviously didn't make it.

Xmas that year was a mixed bag. They were in a fog but because they knew their dad's last wish was to see them smile on Xmas day they managed to have some fun because they knew it was what he wanted.

I am more worried that this xmas will be harder on them as the numbness they felt last xmas is not there and I think they will miss him more. At the same time they are little fighters and not only did they lose their dad last xmas, they lost two grandparents to cancer a couple of months after, so they have three losses to deal with and they are only 15, 13 and 11, but I know they will feel their losses but they will get on with it and they will still have fun, and we will raise a toast to them all at dinner and share stories of them at the table.

I am sorry for your loss OP.

Bunbaker Sun 02-Nov-14 20:35:19

flowers for U2 and everyone else missing loved ones at Christmas.

Darkandstormynight Sun 02-Nov-14 20:37:07

The first Christmas without my mum we traveled to be somewhere else. The second we were home and I focused on playing really happy music. I didn't play anything that was sentimental or too emotional. I even had a name for it, "Christmas music on crack".

I'd just make the day all about your dd.

HappyAgainOneDay Sun 02-Nov-14 20:46:51

CountryMummy1 I know how daunting things can be after you've lost a dear family member. I've read the other posts and agree that you should make it a Christmas for your children to be happy. However, I would also ask you please to forget not your grandad who has lost his dear wife of many years. Are there any plans to include him in your day anything? Please do not think that he can cope easily with a Christmas without his soulmate. Not everyone can .......

theposterformallyknownas Sun 02-Nov-14 20:48:47

I find it hard too and bereavement does tend to rear its ugly head much worse at Christmas time.
My parents have been gone for 6 and 7 years now and Christmas isn't the same.
You know others have far more to contend with but it doesn't make your pain any less.

U2 OP and others
My sincerest sympathy to you all. x thanks

PiperIsOrangePumpkins Sun 02-Nov-14 20:52:16

A small thing to do is the money you would have spent of cards is donate the money to charity instead.

Every year I donate the money I would have spent on cards to a charity that was close to our family heart, muscular dystrophy as the gene is in my family and we have lost loved ones to this awful disease. I started doing this after the death of my gransha before Christmas.

teddybears Sun 02-Nov-14 20:57:23

We lost my brother on boxing day last year, I can't say I'm looking forward to Christmas.

Justyouwaitandsee Sun 02-Nov-14 21:09:06

One of my siblings died when I was very young. Looking back, Christmas must have been so hard for my parents but I never remember them being sad. The day has always been special. We have special ornaments and always try to take time to visit the cemetery over the Christmas period (with special decorations for the grave) and all those we have lost over the years are always in our thoughts and conversations. Christmas is a special, magical time, please try not to lose that. Agree about thinking up some new and special traditions. We have also tried not to get too set into any one routine, I think this helps you to cope when plans do go awry, circumstances change or you are required to do things differently.

CountryMummy1 Sun 02-Nov-14 21:13:42

My grandad will be spending the xmas holiday at my mom's house with all of us as usual. We all see him everyday now so we are supporting him as best we can.

I am going to introduce some December traditions this year I think so that xmas isn't all about the one day.

Thank you for all your support and advice. So sorry for all your losses x

cozietoesie Sun 02-Nov-14 21:18:23

That's a good idea about the December traditions. You'll manage once you're in the middle of it.

AcrossthePond55 Sun 02-Nov-14 21:23:00

My Dad's been gone for 15 years this past September. Our first Christmas without Dad we still set a place for him at the head of our table. Mum, who sat at the opposite end, wanted it that way as she said it made her feel he was there in spirit. The second Christmas without Dad, Mum said that my husband now should sit at the head of the table in Dad's place, that it was now 'his place'.

This year Mum, who has dementia, will not be able to be with us as it would be too hard for her. I just don't know if I'll be able to seat myself in her place.

You do what feels right. You may want new traditions to start or it may mean more to keep the old ones. We've kept mostly to our 'old ways' with things bringing bittersweet (now more sweet than bitter) feelings.

alternativeusernamerequired Sun 02-Nov-14 22:14:29

Darling, you are going to have to grit your teeth and get on with it for the sake of the children. I presume your Nan would have wanted them to have a great time. It will be bloody hard, both dh and I had to grit our teeth and have a party for the children on the days one of our parents died on birthdays and at Christmas. (it has just occured to me that I did throw a party the day my mil died, though technically we were mid party anyway when we heard)

Perhaps do something special for the grown ups in rememberance of your Nan after the children are in bed or another day.

steff13 Sun 02-Nov-14 22:28:13

My mother died on 12/15. You just get through it.

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