December 2018

A Gift for the Grieving

Many people find that grief is hardest to manage during the holidays.  There are so many reminders of our missing loved ones, including events that a loved one should be around for, empty chairs (literal or figurative), and constant images of happy families plastered everywhere.  There are the strangers randomly wishing you "happy holidays" not knowing that you are just struggling to make it through the day.  And there are expectations that seem to increase each year following a death that we move on and heal.  It can be exhausting, overwhelming, too much.  And even if we aren't the ones who are grieving, we struggle with what to say to family members and friends who are.

This month we share articles from two moms who share their experiences with Christmas years after their losses.  While they may have different tones and experiences, one thing stood out as the same.  They both want most to hear people mention their child by name.  That is a gift that any of us could give to someone who is grieving, just a shared memory or single sentence acknowledging someone else's loss.  It may be the gift that someone close to you most craves, and that you may cherish the most that you receive.

A Gift for the Bereaved

by Maria Kubitz

The holidays can be a lonely and difficult time for people who have lost someone close to them. Lonely from the isolation they feel at secretly – or not so secretly – resenting the joy the season brings when they are filled with despair so deep that it colors their every thought. Difficult because the overwhelming pain of missing someone so dear to them leaves them feeling as if it would have been easier if the world itself had just come to an end when their loved one died.

When you experience a loss so profound that it shakes you to your very core, your outlook on life inevitably changes. Things that once seemed important may tend to appear trivial in the sobering reality of the fragility and unpredictability of life. In this light, the materialism of Christmas and other gift-giving holidays might seem unimportant to them. Short of bringing their loved one back from the dead, they may not want to receive anything that can be wrapped in a box.

Thinking back to that first holiday season after my four-year-old daughter’s death, I didn’t want to receive gifts at all. What I craved the most involved no wrapping paper or bows. Many days I didn’t have the energy to venture out of the house or sometimes even to talk, and would have appreciated the simple act of quiet companionship. Sometimes all I wanted was a loving hug and someone to cry with.

Over the years since my daughter’s death, my grief has evolved and my needs have changed. However, one thing has remained the same: I miss hearing her name.  Read More...

Tear Soup

by Pat Schwiebert and Chuck DeKlyen

If you are going to buy only one book on grief, this is the one to get. It will validate your grief experience, and you can share it with your children. You can leave it on the coffee table so others will pick it up, read it, and then better appreciate your grieving time. The “tips” section at the back of the book is rich with wisdom and concrete recommendations.   
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You are the Mother of All Mothers

by Angela Miller

There are few books that address the weight of guilt and shame that a grieving mother carries with her after the loss of her child. Reengaging in life after loss and attempting to find a sliver of hope again is an on-going battle-- one no bereaved mother should travel alone.  
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Christmas Without You

by Angela Miller

This is what Christmas without you feels like seven years later.

I miss you. I always miss you, even when I don’t say it, I’m always thinking it. It’s an ache that perpetually aches– in my heart, my head, my soul– deep within my bones. The you-shaped hole in my heart will always remain.

There are few people left in my life who knew you when you were here. Few people who know or say your name.

I’m not sure why that is. Honestly, I’ve stopped wondering about most of life’s whys. The whys and what ifs, they all end the same– a dizzying clusterfuck of senselessness that will never make sense to me, no matter how long I ruminate. It all ends in one big, giant headache. That and a whole lot of suffering mixed with endless tears. With no consolation prize, and with no more answers than when I first started asking why, seven, long years ago.

Like that song says, “It’s just a different kind of Christmas this year.” Different, is certainly one way to put it. I could also fill-in-the-blank with a number of other descriptive words, that would all be equally accurate. The thing is, Christmas without you isn’t just one emotion. It’s a jumble of emotions, that still leave me spinning. You’d think after seven years of living without you, I’d be getting the hang of it. But honestly? I’m not. There’s no “getting the hang” of living a life sentence without you. Grief still has a way of sneaking up on me without notice, grinchingly lurking around corners, and ruining otherwise “good” moments. Especially during the holidays. Grief is a bitch like that.

But here’s the other thing. There are so many incredible, beautiful, amazing moments I ache to share with you. Every good, “happy” moment always has one thing missing: you. And without you, it really knocks the goodness/happiness/joy o’meter down more than a few notches, you know? At best, life is bittersweet. Never again will it be purely happy and joyful like it once was. When you were here, and we were together. I had everything I’d ever dreamed of and then some. You, were a dream come true.

When I look at old pictures of me from “before,” I sob. It’s painful to look into her eyes. That sparkle. That mom. The normal one. The non-bereaved one. The one not perpetually weighed down emotionally, pinned between a rock and a hard place, by this incessant boulder of grief. The one that was all kinds of happy and joyful and mom to the nth degree. I’m not that mom anymore, sweet boy. I wish I was, I wish that mom was still in me somewhere. But she died the day you did. With you, she went. Together, we soar.

Yet, I’m still a mom. To you, and to the rest of your siblings. And I wonder? Do they know? Do they know how different of a mom they have now from the mom I was before?  

All DVDS On Sale Through December

Sometimes it's hard to focus to read when you are grieving and looking for comfort.  DVDs are an easy way to get some of the same information, and are a great option for viewing in a group.  Shop Here...

Click here to check out our most popular DVD, Tear Soup:  
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Singing Ornaments

You hold your loved ones who have died close to your heart, and these ornaments are the perfect acknowledgement of that feeling. A small heart or star is suspended in the center of the ornament, illustrating how you carry your loved ones with you, wherever you are. They make a beautiful chiming sound, and can be used as a holiday ornament, a wind-chime, or as a remembering gift to loved ones. Personalize your ornament by adding a birthstone to it's center.   Shop Here...

The Remembering Heart

Two beautiful handcrafted ceramic hearts in one. When separated, the tiny inner heart can be placed with the loved one who has died as a reminder of their unbroken connection to those who remain behind. They can also be tied together to form a necklace of love. The outer heart is kept by the bereaved and can be worn on a necklace, acknowledging their grief.   Shop Here...

Hole In My Heart

Simple, solid-colored ceramic hearts with a small hole to represent the hole that one feels is in their heart following the loss of a loved one. Same size as the feeling hearts and heart prints. These hearts are perfect to share with a support group or for individuals who want to show that they are not "complete" and someone or something is missing in their life.    Shop Here...

Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas

Lyrics by Ralph Blane

Have yourself a merry little Christmas
Let your heart be light
Next year all our troubles will be
Out of sight

Have yourself a merry little Christmas
Make the yule-tide gay
Next year all our troubles will be
Miles away

Once again as in olden days
Happy golden days of yore
Faithful friends who are dear to us
Will be near to us once more

Someday soon, we all will be together
If the Fates allow
Until then, well have to muddle through somehow
So have yourself a merry little Christmas now

Coping with Holidays and Celebrations

This booklet is full of advice and ideas on how to handle family celebrations and holidays as well as birthdays and other special days after the loss of a loved one.   Shop Here...

What Family and Friends Can Do

This expanded excerpt adapted from Empty Arms gives suggestions for family and friends to better understand themselves and offer support to bereaved parents following a miscarriage, stillbirth or infant death.   Shop Here...

Holiday Cards

Holiday greeting cards that reflect both the joy of the holiday and the sadness that is felt when a holiday is celebrated without a loved one that has died.  These cards come in packs of 10.  Some of the cards are meant to be sent out by families that have lost a loved one.  Others are fitting for professionals who want to acknowledge a client's loss.   Shop Here...

Quote of the Month

Grief is a room without doors -
but somehow, with its tinsel and cliches,
Christmas finds a way in.   
Simon Van Booy 

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MISSION: The Grief Watch mission is to offer spiritual, emotional and other support to persons who are grieving and the professional caregivers who assist them.  For more information about us please visit our info page.

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