Updated: Dec 26, 2018
I think we can all agree…the holiday season sucks without a spouse. I lost my husband nearly 3 years ago, and the first year following his death I experienced the typical “Year of Firsts”, where I experienced the Holiday loneliness. Only one and a half months after he passed marked the first valentines day I spent without him in over 20 years. Seeing the young love-bird couples picking out chocolate boxes and diamond jewelry brought back floods of memories from the time I spent dating my late-husband (before he was my husband).
I have to say, Holidays in general suck, but the holiday season at the end of the year is the absolute worst. See, my husband was Jewish & I was Catholic, so we celebrated both Christmas & Hanukkah. My husband died 3 days after Christmas in 2015, so the holiday season marks the day that my life changed forever, and brings out the intensity of my loneliness. Even worse, Hanukkah & Christmas fall right after Thanksgiving, and hardly one month before Thanksgiving is Halloween (my husbands favorite holiday). He loved Halloween so much that he would spend weeks decorating the exterior of our house with lights, zombies, ghouls, scarecrows…and I’m reminded of him every time a trick-or-treater comes to my doorstep.
So….I’m basically a mess from the months of October through December. I can’t stop thinking about him. Every ringing of the doorbell, every decoration, every Christmas carol, every candle…reminds me of him. It’s a tough thing, losing your husband (obviously). But I think what makes it harder is being reminded of being alone. I can get through the rest of the year without crying every day. I don’t even cry every week anymore. Instead, I only cry maybe 3-4 times per month, when I find a new “first” (my first time eating a slice of apple pie after he passed threw me into a crying fit in the middle of a restaurant).
People always ask me why I feel so alone. I still have friends, siblings/cousins and other people who care about me. But, on Christmas… everyone is spending time with their own families, and they don’t think to reach out to invite me to their dinners. I know it’s probably not intentional, and maybe they just don’t know what to say, or maybe they think that I wouldn’t be interested in coming. I don’t really know, but either way, it makes me sad to not be included in holiday activities.
Even the holiday commercials on TV make me feel lonelier. They always show happy families wearing matching Santa pajamas, or sitting around a table, overindulging in a feast made for kings. The Christmas movies are either made for kids, or have a love-story element that I can’t bear to watch. The (rare) holiday carolers, just trying to spread joy around the neighborhood, always end up irritating me. It feels like the season isn’t made for widows or widowers.
So, what am I supposed to do with my free time? How am I supposed to get through these dreaded months? This year, I’m trying to participate in some traditions, like gift-giving & holiday dinner. I decided that I would “invite myself” to my best friends dinner. Of course, I wasn’t rude about it. I just think that people don’t know how to act around widowed persons during the holidays. If you tell them that you’re trying to avoid being alone this year & you’re considering going to someone’s holiday dinner, most of the time, they’ll extend an invitation to you.
I still haven’t figured out how to avoid getting angry at carolers, or how to stop myself from crying at other “firsts” without my husband during the holidays. Holidays still suck, quite frankly. I’ll still be reminded of his death each year. I don’t know if that will ever change. I can feel myself getting stronger with every passing day, so that’s good. I just hope the holidays aren’t ruined for good.