It’s the holiday season again. People told you last year the first without your spouse would be the most difficult. But here it is, another year past, and the second holiday without your spouse is harder than the first. Is something wrong with you?
If you are wondering that you are not alone. For many, the second year is actually more difficult than the first. There are reasons for this and one or more may be the case for you.
Your spouse died closer to the end of the year. Sometimes if the loss was still very new, you could have still been in a state of shock, disbelief, or denial. You went with the motions of the days rather than actually living them. You lived in a widow’s fog, and even though you knew the holidays were here, your other emotions took over. Now, the days have become more real.
The tradition was changed for that first year. Maybe family or friends had you over last year and what you traditionally would have done for the holidays was put aside. This year, you are feeling the loss more as you decide what to do about your traditions going forward.
You can see more clearly now and see the finality of it all. During your second holiday without your spouse, you have had some time to realize this is now your new normal. The holidays will no longer physically include your spouse. The reality is setting in more than it did last year.
People were with you more. During the first year, family and friends made more of a conscientious decision to make sure you were not left alone. As time goes on, it doesn’t happen as much. You may be left with spending much of the holidays alone.
Memories flood your mind. Perhaps for the first holiday season, you weren’t paying much attention to songs on the radio or the typical hustle and bustle of the season you were accustomed to being a part of because your mind was a whirlwind of emotions back then. Sorting out one day at a time was all you could handle then. This year your mind is more open to hearing the songs and feeling the memories of holidays gone by. It feels much harder this year.
You are judging your grief with someone else’s. The second year of loss is still relatively new and painful for many. You can’t judge your grief with someone else’s. Just because someone you know felt better the second year, doesn’t mean you have to feel better. You don’t know the exact type of relationship they had with their spouse. Even friends and family members react to loss in different ways. Do not be hard on yourself. You feel as you do because you loved someone dearly and are missing them. It’s okay to still be sad. Just remember it’s your grief and that’s an individual journey you are on. There is no time line on grief.
Going forward, when each and every holiday season comes around, you will likely think of your spouse even more than you may already do. In time, the season won’t hurt as much. You’ll be able to look back on holidays past and maybe even be thankful for the memories you have. No one can take them from you because they are yours and yours alone to keep. Those memories can become the greatest gift you’ll ever receive on any holiday to come.
Read more from Peggy Bell on Open to Hope: Dealing with Guilt While Grieving – Open to Hope