Coping with grief during the first holidays or anniversaries after the death of a loved one or other devastating loss is especially difficult. Your pain is fresh and memories are tender. Emotions stay close to the surface, and those around you tend to be uncomfortable about what to say, how to act, and what to expect as the day approaches.
Like many families, ours had established traditions that carried over from one holiday to the next. Often the menu stayed the same from year to year, the place and time for the get-together was set, and everyone knew what to expect. Each person even sat in the same chair! Sounds boring, but it’s surprising how many families keep the same traditions over the years. We become comfortable.
After my husband died, the thought of celebrating the holidays the same way we always had — but without him there — seemed much too difficult. His absence would have been especially glaring. Who would sit in his chair? How would we respond to the emptiness?