Surviving Spouse Corner: Making the Best of the Holidays After Loss

Surviving Spouse Corner: Making the Best of the Holidays After Loss
Photo by Bianca Sowders/Army

(This article originally appeared in MOAA's Council and Chapter News update, which is delivered monthly in The MOAA Newsletter. Read the latest Council and Chapter News here.)

By Cindy Bondi, Surviving Spouse Advisory Council member

Holidays come around at their own pace, whether we’re ready for them or not. Personally, I’ve always enjoyed the season, which starts around Halloween and really doesn’t end until the New Year.

After the loss of my husband, that first set of holidays was a whirlwind. My blended family came around with little planning, as they made sure I wasn’t alone or sad. They were grieving too, and it seemed natural to be together.

The years since that first set of holidays after my husband’s death have not been as traditional. I’m ready to set a new tradition, but I find it difficult because the circumstances in my life have changed, as has my growing and changing family.

Last year, all the kids decided to coordinate spending every other year with their in-laws, and so it was the first year that I would have to find another way to spend Christmas without them. My sister invited me to spend Christmas Eve and day with her and her husband and her two grown kids. I accepted, but I had not expected it to be much fun.

It turned out to be one of the best times I’d had in years. We opened presents one by one, and it literally took six hours! It reminded me of the way my sister and I opened presents in our family when we were kids. Our dad always examined every gift and made a big deal out of the smallest things.

I left her house with a new perspective. I will try to keep an open mind about the holidays and remind myself the following:

  • I am not alone.
  • I’m thankful for even the smallest things
  • I know there are people who care and want to help. I need to learn to accept help.
  • I try not to worry or let fear take over. It’s usually a waste of time.
  • It becomes more evident that everyone who I have crossed paths with has been there for a reason.

As I move into the 2019 holiday season, I know there will be some struggles, but there also will be joys along the way.

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