Coping with Christmas after a loss

theonlypirate

New member
I hope it's ok that I'm posting this in the "Remembering" forum. I figured this may be a topic a lot of people could use some help with and that a lot of people have dealt with.

4 years ago, my fiance's brother died of CF at age 25. My fiance also has CF and received a transplant within 2 months of his death. In the past few years his family hasn't seemed sure of how to deal with the holidays because for so many years they were spent in the hospital. This is the first year both of us will be spending it at his parents' house and I'm just wondering if anyone has suggestions on how to cope with the inevitable mixed emotions of Christmas after the death of a child. I don't want to do anything that may make it harder on his family and if there's even something I can do to make it easier, that would be wonderful. For example, I don't want to push them to do things that make it harder, but if a little push might actually make thing easier, I'm willing to try. I've heard that some people put up a new ornament every year in honor of their deceased loved one. I like this idea, but I haven't gone through what they have and I'm not sure it's my place to make that suggestion or start that tradition. Is there anything I should or shouldn't do to help make this Christmas as special as possible? I know I can't erase all of the pain, but perhaps there's a way to alleviate it? Any advice would be appreciated...and for everyone who's missing their loved one(s) this Christmas, I'm terribly sorry for your loss(es) and I hope you've been able to find a special tradition that has helped bring you holiday cheer. My thoughts are always with you during this time of year.
 

markinohio

New member
Our first son, Matthew, had brain cancer and passed away on Dec. 19, 1998 when he was three. It has been fifteen years since he passed away and Christmas is still a difficult time of year for our family. We have had two boys since. The first few years were the toughest because of the recent memories. Since then, and because of our two sons, it has gotten easier. Every year we have a tradition of taking a small Christmas tree to Matthew's grave. It is decorated with ornaments that remind us of our years with him. He loved toy cars, so we have cars on the tree, stuff like that. Perhaps you can talk with members of the family to get a feeling of how to proceed. I am sorry for your loss and hope your Christmas will be a merry occasion.

Mark
 

theonlypirate

New member
Our first son, Matthew, had brain cancer and passed away on Dec. 19, 1998 when he was three. It has been fifteen years since he passed away and Christmas is still a difficult time of year for our family. We have had two boys since. The first few years were the toughest because of the recent memories. Since then, and because of our two sons, it has gotten easier. Every year we have a tradition of taking a small Christmas tree to Matthew's grave. It is decorated with ornaments that remind us of our years with him. He loved toy cars, so we have cars on the tree, stuff like that. Perhaps you can talk with members of the family to get a feeling of how to proceed. I am sorry for your loss and hope your Christmas will be a merry occasion.

Mark
Thank you so much for sharing your experience and advice. I'm so sorry for your loss and am glad you are able to share holidays with two more special boys. I like your idea very much and will definitely discuss it with my fiance. His brother was cremated but perhaps we can set up a table top tree with ornaments that remind us of him and the family's many inside jokes. This could conjure many positive memories. :)
 

LittleLab4CF

Super Moderator
Christmas and other anniversaries now just marking time since..... Our death day is defining as much as the other dates of passage we traditionally celebrate. Large families or orphans all find love and loss. My childhood best friend and first girlfriend lost her 3yr old daughter to meningitis. An unreconcilable grief can't be sustained. It is a raw amputation hidden under a veneer of normalcy that can bleed openly when a birthdate, baptism or date of passing drives home that another year has passed.
Join in with your fiance's family to celebrate Christmas. It sounds like you feel this family needs your help coming to a resolution. You suggest creating a ritual like an ornament added each year to the tree. Your fiance' or other family may be alive another 50yrs. A lot of ornaments in total so maybe a special candle if you must inflict an object of rememberance on this family. Your heart is in the right place but I worry about you doing anything potentially very private, openly from you. I understand your desire or even need to help the family heal. Consider discussing the ideas you have and your reasons with your fiance'. I have burried my grandparents, parents and little sister not to mention too many friends. My grandfather and sister committed suicide, father died from CF at at 48, mother at 59 from heart disease and lost my climbing mate at 33. I've lost 8 and saved 10 as a first responder. More to the point with each family death I grieved and watched surviving family grieve. When uninvited business associates attended my mother's funeral, I was courteous to them but nearly bit through my tongue with anger. The funeral was in another State so they did go to considerable effort to acknowledge my loss. It seems irrational but like a family member deriding a sibling is fine until a stranger agrees then it's time to defend him/her. Grief for a period of time is a personal journey.

Having stated how personal death can be, if you do have the skill set to help a family silenced by grief to open up and talk through the cacophony of feelings, sense of loss that won't go away go for it.
LL
 
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patrish22

Guest
I lost both my girls to CF. GM 2 years ago and CM last July. They were both lovers of cheese cake so I make one for Christmas. I also donate to our local foodbank and a local toy drive in their name. This year I am making a centerpeice with ornaments (they both loved new ornaments each year). Don't be afraid to start a tradition or celebrate. Your fiance's life deserves celebration! I personally find the donation part comforting. Yes, its sad and painful to loose a child, but finding a way to honor them, especially by helping someone less fortunate does bring me peace. Love and blessings to you and your family.
 

chelsie882003

New member
OMG im so sorry to hear for everybodys loss! I myself had a brother who passed September 27, 2012. Not long ago at all. His name was Chris and 28yrs old. I miss him so much, My mom said she isnt in the holiday spirit this year. Its been so rough for my mother, she lost her mother Ausgust 2011 and now her older son. I just try to think about the good memories i had with him and try to think he is in a way better place and painless free. It's gonna be a tough Christmas to get through but he is there with us and everywhere we go everyday. spirit and heart. I miss him dearly, and since it hasnt been that long i still cant believe it.

Chelsie
Female 24yrs old DDF508 with diabetes
 

Nicks mom

New member
I lost my oldest son Nick on December 13th 2012. It is too much to bear that I am so close to Christmas. The last five years were very hard for him with CF. He was non-compliant, or partially at times as a teen. He was 21 when he died, and his 22nd birthday is January 17th. Because he fought me most times on caring for himself, he was usually in the hospital on Christmas. I hated this because I have two younger sons without CF, and was never able to be there early in the morning on Christmas. But, for some reason God made sure that we had him home last year, I'm sure because he knew it would be his last with us. I didn't know it until now, but, God was taking care of us. I wish that he was here, and it hurts so bad. He was the light of my life. There was never a time , even when I was unable to come to the hospital that day, that he wasn't on my mind.My thoughts were always with him, and now I feel so lost.We were blessed with a painless death for him, he just fell asleep in the chair. I'm sure it had to be his precious heart, it just got too tired...Always racing, anxiety, struggling to breathe...It still hurts so bad to even accept it . He never deserved to suffer, and always just wanted to be normal like everybody else...I don't ever think that he took his life for granted, but he wanted to do it his way. He was so brave, always just taking the pain, and trying to never feel sorry for himself. We are truly devastated, my husband passed away in 2007, from complications after an automobile accident, I'm worried about my younger sons, and how much grief they have endured. Losing their big brother that they idolized, thinking he was invincible, is too much for them to even bare.I am lost about Christmas, and then his birthday right after...It gives me some comfort to be on this forum, and knowing that there are others like me.I miss his voice, so excited to see me saying"Hi Momma" every time I entered his hospital room... flinging his loving arms out for a big hug...I got him a big stocking this year, because he loves to get one, even though he was all grown up, and now all I can do is stare at it and cry...Anyone else feeling this way? I don;t even know where to start, it was so sudden, I thought we had more time with him , even though no time could have ever been enough..I miss him, and no one around me understands my pain...
 

NurseKnob

New member
Hi Nick's Mom.

Yes, I totally understand your pain. I am very sorry for your loss. My beautiful daughter, Victoria, 23 years old, died December 30 2012. My husband and I were lucky to have spent one more precious Christmas with her. As she was our only child, (not purposely) the pain I endure on a daily basis is excruciating. I miss her dazzling smile and strong spirit. I miss everything about her. Like your son, my daughter lived each day to the fullest, never feeling sorry for herself. I hate how cystic fibrosis affected her life. It stole her independence and any true hope for a normal life. As you, I thought we would have more time. She died in her sleep, her blood sugar robbing her brain of glucose and in the end she went into a coma....I thank God she didn't suffer. This is my only consolation. Why did she have to go so soon!? We were so close...now I have to carry on without her. I am usually a very upbeat positive person. It's true what "they" say about after a child dies. A lot of the time, it's hard for me to relate to my husband's feelings and grief and vice versa. We are still together after being childhood friends, but for how long more? I don't know. Also, I don't care about everything the same the way I used to when she was alive. Nothing is the same. My whole perspective has changed. I wonder if I'll ever feel whole again. So, you see, I do know what your'e feeling. I can only hope time lessens our pain, at least this is what everyone says. Good luck to you and may God look over you and yours.
 

bwest

New member
Grieving is such a personal, private thing. It's my opinion that you should respect their wishes no matter how or what is done to celebrate. We lost our son at age 29 July, 2007 following a nasty lung transplant. Six months later, my father passed away. Six months after that, my mother. And, there were some other loved ones as well. It was "the year of the funerals". Holidays are extremely hard. And, yet they keep coming and I can't stop them. I asked a friend who had also lost a son how long the pain lasts. Her response was, "All I can tell you is that it softens over time." I guess that is somewhat the truth since we can get through a day now. I hang onto the belief that I will see my loved ones again. I know my post is after the Christmas you were concerned about. So, I don't know how you worked through your concerns. But, I wondered if you had considered making an annual Christmas donation to CF in honor of the person that passed away and the thank you card for it sent to the family. I would appreciate that more than an ornament or a candle. Everyone works through this in their own way. Just my thoughts on the matter.
 

juliefaler

New member
My beautiful daughter 28 yrs old passed away this year on March 7. So this will be my first Christmas without her. Sept 12 was her birthday. Her birth was one of the best days of my life. Instead of dreading it our family decided to celebrate it. We cooked her favorite meal. I made her favorite cake. Her sister and her nieces and nephew came over. We shared wonderful memories of her. Made a donation to the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation. Then we all went to the beach and sent balloons to heaven for her. I not sure exactly what we will do for Christmas, it no doubt will be hard. I think I will put up a special tree for her. Most people don't know what to do, they usually say nothing afraid it will upset you. Even know it will be difficult I still like it when people ask about her. I feel very fortuned that I was honored with the privilege of being her mother.
 

bwest

New member
I really like what you have said and done. You've honored your loved one wonderfully. I found that after our son passed away, most people just stopped talking about him. That made it harder for me. He is STILL an everyday part of my life and always will be. When he was so sick both before and after his transplant he insisted that we have a Christmas tree in our little apartment where we lived while he was listed. So, we take a little tree to him at the cemetery every year because that meant something to him. I know the day passes and our hearts are broken. I guess we just do the best we can. Another thing we do at Christmas time is take toys to our local TV station. He would have liked that. My thoughts and prayers will be with you and all of the others who struggle through this time of year. Each in our own way.
 
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