Author Topic: Dreading Christmas  (Read 730 times)

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Offline SarahB

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Dreading Christmas
« on: October 15, 2020, 04:40:52 PM »


Hi I hope it's ok to bring this up - I lost my Mum as some of you know, last December and that first Christmas just went by in a blur. My brother and I just did the best we could but it was awful, no tree, no gifts etc. There really is just the two of us now.

And now I'm dreading this year, I mean really dreading it. And because there is talk of further lockdowns, I'm almost selfishly hoping that it just goes away without much fuss. Every time I see an advert for it I scream or turn off the channel.

My brother isn't very supportive or willing to help when it comes to this type of thing. He's an alcoholic and for several years between 2014-2018, quite a few Christmas' were non existent because as hard as my Mum and I tried, he wouldn't come out of his room. Of course 2019 blew everything else off the map with Mum's passing. Then in May this year my beloved dog passed away from a stroke at the age of 14 :(.

All I am seeing around me are happy families, couples, people with babies etc and, as stupid as I feel typing this, at the age of 44 I have never married or had children so my Mum and the Christmas' she made with my late Dad were so important to me. In my head I'm regressing and all I can think of are those really happy memories from childhood and how much I loved Christmas then. I've never really wanted to marry or have kids (I'm a huge animal person), but now I'm beating myself up for not having children just so I won't be alone. I might see my brother for a couple of hours but it won't be for a special dinner or anything and he really can't be bothered with it all anyway, whereas I've always tried to make it special.

So I feel that this year when people are together I will be totally alone and I can't bear it. I don't feel like anyone really cares. Is it normal to dread Christmas like this after such losses?  Is it true that everyone is happy at that time of year?

I'd really appreciate having someone to talk to about this and I'm sorry I haven't been around for a while.

Thank you

Sarah xx

Offline Emz2014

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Re: Dreading Christmas
« Reply #1 on: October 15, 2020, 09:55:48 PM »
You're not alone  :hug:
My Christmases have varied over my lifetime. My favourite Christmases as an adult for many years revolved around my dad - he was central to our celebrations - he'd cook an amazing feast, we would gather and have just the perfect time. We suddenly lost him in 2013. We tried to recreate Christmas, was nice but could never compare.  Other complications happened and now I Christmas with my partner at home alone now

So Christmas is bitter sweet now. I buy gifts for family/friends but I don't celebrate Christmas as such now. I do a nice dinner and do nice stuff, but not labeled as Christmas.   Its tough and I miss those times dearly. Adverts/media do highlight it and for lack of better words 'rub it in'

In some ways if there are lockdown restrictions maybe it wont feel as odd/isolating?

Ive tried to focus on making things meaningful in other ways - start different/new traditions, do something in memory of dad.  It helps me, maybe worth trying to think how you could do something slightly different/meaningful?
Even the darkest night will end and the sun will rise. 
Hold on in there xx

Offline Karena

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Re: Dreading Christmas
« Reply #2 on: October 16, 2020, 11:55:07 AM »
 :hug: I was dreading xmas after my husband died it used to be open house xmas day and i couldnt even try to continue with that because i had to move - but despite the distress in the run up the day itself was not as bad  whatever our circumstances i will say firstly a lot of people who have been here over the years have found those anniversary s we dread are often far worse in the build up than the day itself.
 I have stepped outside Xmas  - by that i mean adapted a different version of it - so all the paraphernalia in the build up no longer applies to me and it is actually much less stressful -it doesn't bother me with the adverts and stuff in the shops because it isnt my festival but i am  a guest looking in on other peoples if that makes sense.
I couldn't bear the thought of writing xmas cards just from me so i stopped doing them and gave stuff too the food bank instead -i make and send a few winter solstice cards out  to a few friends  - that isn't to say i have turned bah humbug i still get presents for the grand kids  but i looked at new or rather old more pagan ideas around the winter festival and adapted them for myself -

New year is also a difficult one as many people feel they are leaving their loved one behind in the last year but in the older times new year was a time to let in the new but take the best from the old forward with you - so new years if its not raining i light a fire outdoors take a blanket and a pot of hot chocolate and burn a candle over the midnight hour its is symbolic of taking my husband forward into the next year with me - if its too bad weather for that i do it indoors - new years day   is about letting in the light not the calendar new year the winter solstice changes dates but i do it then while others do their thing - it is the time when the days start to get longer again so we have more light in our lives to look forward too
It doesn't matter what you do or believe in, the Xmas we consider normal in our society's is a ritual so basically i replaced one ritual or parts of it with another which as it turns out suits me better it is more gentle and a time for rest That doesnt mean you need to  exclude your mum from it she didnt create all those Xmases for you with the idea that you would one day be saddened by them so celebrate them and her life but do it your way. If it was a very christian Christmas then maybe go to christingle (again maybe not possible this year but that doesnt mean you cant take an element of it an do it at home)  -look up in the loft do you still have a decoration you can hang up from those times as an acknowledgement of them - if not maybe buy something similar too a favourite one a fairy or angel and hang that in tribute too her and those past christmases instead.What was your favorite part of them is there a way to focus on just that one thing.

Others here have tried to reproduce the xmas they had and set a place at the table for the person they lost with a photo we are all different and find different ways to cope.

There are other options normally if you are on your own such as helping out with xmas dinner at homeless centres  i dont know what will happen about things like that this year but something you might consider for future years it means you are less alone and kept busy on the day and maybe you will find new friends from the other volunteers.

You have the time now to think about what you would like to do and create your own ideas keep those childhood  memorys in mind and keep your mum in mind -   - maybe ask your brother and think of something you could both do during the time he does come down so he can be even a small part of the planning which might help him eel better about it too.
As a child for me we didnt have money xmas lunch was not the massive feast people have now - but xmas tea was special too and it was more festive because things in it were bought or made and stored over time for me the build up wasnt the tv ads or shopping but stirring the cake mix putting coins in the pudding and cutting pastry for mince pies  - old fashioned stuff that all went on the table that day sandwiches xmas cake mince pies jelly meruinges etc -  so maybe you could put something together buffet style with some xmasy food  things in from your childhood then its there when your brother comes down and its there to pick at for you and its there for boxing day if you are not hungry xmas day.

Losing your dog is a big blow too i lost mine and he had played a big part in getting me back on my feet after my husband died - I dont think i ever will replace my dog initially i thought maybe i would in a year or so but not now - but i do have dogs for when other people go on holiday - there are four regular ones at different times of the year - some of the dog shelters are crying out for foster carers so maybe thats something you could think about doing too you get the benefits of having the dog but without getting as attached although sometimes foster carers will end up adopting a particular one in the end. 

 
     

Offline Sandra61

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Re: Dreading Christmas
« Reply #3 on: October 23, 2020, 02:43:29 AM »
Christmas is a nightmare, when you are grieving. It is so hard to see anything but happy people all around still at a point in their lives when it is something so genuinely fun and special, but in fact, you are indeed not alone in feeling as you do. There are lots of us out there in the same boat sadly.

I lost my mum in 2017 and am also alone. I have a brother as well, but he has his own family and spends it with them. I have spent Christmas alone each year since losing my mum. I know some people cboose to ignore Christmas and just pretend it's not happening, but I didn't think that was realistic. You can't really get away from it and in the end, it is only a few days. I decided to try to make the best of it and although it's not an easy time, in my experience, it is better to acknowledge it somehow.

Christmases were always a big deal in our house when I was little with lots of visitors and food and fun. I choose to remember those times, and I do have a tree and dig out the old family decorations. I find it cosy to sit with just the tree-lights on in the evening and use that time to remember those good Christmases of the past. I also try to get some nice food in, almost in memory of my mum and dad, who always enjoyed their Christmas food and it's really not so bad. I suppose it's what you decide to make it.

All the suggestions that Emz and Karena have made are good ones and I hope you find something among them to help you. But one of the surprising things that helped me I discovered after my dad died and my mum was still with me, some thirty-five years ago. We decided to take flowers to my dad's grave on Christmas day to try to make him a part of our Christmas and it was actually a really touching experience. The cemetery was more busy than we had ever seen it with lots of people there bringing flowers to their loved ones and spending time remembering them. Some of the stones had been decorated with Christmas decorations and there were so many families there to honour and remember their lost loved ones on Christmas Day. I have never seen so many flowers on all the graves. It was really lovely and really brought home to us, just how many people there are out there who have lost someone they love and that they all still feel that love and wish to mark the day by including that person in their day in some small way, even if only by visiting their grave. We ended up looking forward to going to visit the grave on Christmas Day each year and now my mum is there too, I still do it and have a little chat with them and knowing they would want me to enjoy the day, I do make myself a special meal and try to make the best of the day. That's what they would want.

You can't recreate the past, but for me, it would be wrong to ignore it and isn't what my mum and dad would want, so I make the best of it, and have a tree and take flowers to the cemetery and go to church and sing the carols (my mum loved to sing the carols) and have a nice Christmas dinner and watch some telly and ring some friends for a chat and watch some TV and if I do still shed a tear or two when the lights are off and only the tree ones are on in the evening, when memories of Christmas past seep into my consciousness, that's ok too. I wouldn't be without those memories and thank god (and mum and dad) that I have them and my quiet little Christmases are my own little nod to those days gone by. It's fine to have fun and it's fine to be sad, but it's not fine to punish yourself by pretending Christmas isn't happening. It will happen every year for the rest of your life and it will always be hard, but you have to find a way to make the best of it that suits you and that is what those who loved us who have passed away would want for us, so it is a tribute to them, to do ourselves what they would want for us but are no longer here to provide.

Whatever you choose and that feels right for you is Ok. Go away if that helps. Find your own new traditions. But I find it doesn't help to just be miserable and pretend it's not happening. Perhaps that will be right for you, but I doubt it somehow. Optimism is always more helpful, I think.  :hearts:
« Last Edit: October 23, 2020, 02:49:22 AM by Sandra61 »

Offline SarahB

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Re: Dreading Christmas
« Reply #4 on: November 01, 2020, 03:49:21 PM »
Thank you everyone.

I've had a really tough week and have verbally 'given off' to quite a few people who have talked about Christmas before Halloween even happened. (I hate that anyway - Halloween is special to me).

I just feel SO DOWN. I thought I had a good support network in my friends but I really don't. They seem to have forgotten me completely. The person I thought was my best friend really doesn't bother much and I know he's been on holiday during the virus to Greece and Turkey. But I can't talk to him because he gets INCREDIBLY defensive and nothing is ever his fault. He even said to me the other day 'oh I hope this virus is away by Christmas' - like hello? My Mum only died last Christmas :( How can he be so insensitive?

And then, someone else said to me that my grief would be easier if I was married with kids. Another friend just announced she's pregnant so I'm feeling like a total washed up failure :( She has a family - a mum, dad, nieces, nephews. I don't have any of those things. I have a brother who I love but he's not a fan of Christmas anyway so all the suggestions have to come from me.

I am VERY MUCH ALONE. I've even wondered would anyone notice if I took those final steps and ended my life? It's not as if there are any friends banging my door down. I know the virus is here, but the three people I thought cared for me are nowhere to be seen.

M - he is so absorbed with himself and whoever he's dating at the time. He is gay but the only thing on his mind at the minute seems to be how his new boyfriend is going to make it over from Argentina for a visit.

P - haven't seen him since January

G - have known her for 12 years and she's never even been in my house, I always do the visiting.

I can't run anymore, I'm tired of it. I really love my friends but from M and P it certainly doesn't feel reciprocated. I'd get over it if it was just the virus, but I know they have been to parties and abroad to Europe for holidays during it. My Mum was very good to M, so it especially hurts. He seems to be all about himself, but I can't say anything or I'd be the worst in the world.

And I'm afraid to let myself grieve now incase I drive them away completely. I try to be really strong but I'm not grieving properly for fear of losing people who I don't think really care for me anyway. I don't know how to articulate myself to them. I have tried, but it's all fallen on deaf ears.

I'm angry. I don't know how they haven't experienced loss yet. I don't get it. What did I do wrong? I absolutely loved Christmas as a child, but now I just despise it and I take great issue with it being shoved in our faces with early decorating and early movies.

Would it be better if I ended things, meaning joining my Mum? I'm really struggling to see a point when no one seems to even know that I'm alive anyway. Given that I'm not married with children, makes me feel even more isolated, although they were never huge goals of mine (I love animals and am very independent most of the time).

It would just be nice to know that my friends, especially the boys as G is caring, gave a crap, instead of everything I say to M, being turned back on me - it's making me go further into myself and I have honestly contemplated suicide.

Thank you for all your lovely suggestions - I'm just not at that place just yet.

Offline Karena

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Re: Dreading Christmas
« Reply #5 on: November 02, 2020, 07:05:40 PM »
Firstly - you are worth so much more than you know or think and your mum would have agreed with me on that for sure :hug:
You haven't found a direction to turn yet but you will.
If you think of yourself sitting under a tree completely lost where you are sitting under the tree is your grief and loss and if you look around carefully you can see lots of paths leading off but you dont need to take any of them until you feel ready - the tree is where you are now, but one day you will decide to try a path, and your friends might not be part of doing that because it is your path to try your journey not theirs, and maybe it will go round in a circle and back to the tree and maybe the next will fade off into nothing so you back track to the tree and shelter there a bit longer because even though its the last place you wanted to be it is your familiar place just now, and that's fine it is ok to do that,  it will be a different aspect of your grief that has pushed you back there, but the tree doesnt wish you harm you are there to heal. - Not all the paths lead back there and on some you will find unexpected help - maybe the person or being that helps you initially is not even aware they did that - it could be the stranger who smiles and says hello as they walk past who makes a difference too a horrid day and keeps you going - it could be the last  leaf clinging to a branch that reminds you how even when things appear so frail they can be very resilient, or a snowdrop poking its head through the snow that signals spring is coming  - a bird singing or a glimpse of a deer in the trees  but whatever it is it will help you take the next step along the path and then you will find the next thing to help you - maybe a new friend maybe a new interest that you can develop and find more friends through doing that. If you have more affinity with animals then take that and run with it - could you help out at a dog shelter - foster a dog or cat - maybe wildlife rescue need some help or making a wildlife friendly space will help a lot of creature and you as well because you are never alone outdoors in a space like that. i know shutdown is going to make it difficult to get involved with others right now but planning ahead and thinking about what you want to do is a step on that right path and you will find one that is the right one for you but it may take some time. - Being married and having kids wouldn't stop you grieving for your mum it would just be a different grief -sure the kids would keep you busy but that in itself isnt going to stop you grieving and it brings other issues - what do you say to your children when they ask to see grandma - how do you cope with them playing up without your mums wisdom or even just the ability to have a rant about them on the phone to her. What if the husband in that case scenario is no more able to support you than your current friends are ? -How do you manage the in laws expectation that you will now spend every xmas with them and have no choice but to paint on a smile all day - if it was you not your friend who was pregnant how would you cope with that right now on top of everything else thats not to say you wont do all that in the future at some point if thats what you decided you wanted to do but only if you wanted too because it wont take away your grief  - there are always different problems coping with that whatever your familly situation.
 It seems to me your friends dont know how to cope with your grief and so talk about their lives and themselves to cover for that, it isnt their fault so many people are the same - maybe in the case of M he misses her as well but doesnt feel he has the  "right" to say it so covers it with the more trivial talk and focus on his life -perhaps at some point you can say do you remember when mum said or did something funny or daft and bring him in that way with more positive memorys you can share.
But it also isn't uour fault they are not being helpful and you should not pretend to be something or someone else for their sake -if they cant hack who you are just now  then that's their problem, true friends take the bad with the good and if you set off on a a path that they are not on, it means the friendship might change - it doesnt have to be over - but its like when you get to age 11  and change school or 16 and leave school you take different directions from the ones your friends do.

Finally i have been in that dark place where i considered taking my life its a terrible place to be but if you need too please ask for help -smaritans has e-mail as well as phone now if you dont want to speak to someone or see your GP and ask about counseling.I am so glad every single day when i wake up that i am still here. Please also if there are things you want to say that you dont want to put on the open forum use the private message system it may not be instant here but i log in everyday and you are welcome to message me we are here for you and you matter too us.  :hug:

Offline Emz2014

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Re: Dreading Christmas
« Reply #6 on: November 02, 2020, 08:45:45 PM »
When people havent lost people they just dont get it. They forget after a few months and assume people are 'over it', which we know is not true atall. Only a few of my friends saw the truth.
We aren't defined by partners or children, not having children is not a lesser choice - its a valid one. You count. I have made the choice not to have kids, its a lot more common nowadays. Everyone may be on different paths, different choices, but they all count. (There are positives for all choices - and also negatives - with no children we get better sleep!)

I had my share of dark days, not wanting to be here. But wanting to end it all is a permanent change to a temporary situation. I know it doesnt feel that way now, I certainly couldnt see a light at the end of the tunnel, but 7 years later I'm still going. You matter here, keep talking, you're not alone here
Even the darkest night will end and the sun will rise. 
Hold on in there xx

Offline Sandra61

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Re: Dreading Christmas
« Reply #7 on: November 05, 2020, 12:26:40 AM »
Sarah, don't be defined by the way anyone else sees you and don't define yourself as not mattering or in terms of how others might react to losing you, or not - as the category of the people you describe might fall into! Of course you matter, everyone does! Life is not easy at the moment, but it will get better and you will, as Karena says, eventually find the right way forward with yours. If you can't go out at the moment much, (which was what helped me most - I joined a class and took up a new interest) then how about starting an on-line course to try to find and develop a new interest or skill or an existing one? It will give you something else to think about and take up your interest. You  can't change the people around you and it is a waste of energy to hope and expect from them something they are unable or unwilling to give, so stop expecting so much from them. You don't need them. You are stronger than you think and you can find your own way forward. At the class I did, I found new friends who have become closer to me and better friends than any of those I had before and who, like yours, let me down. Don't give up on yourself, Sarah. We won't give up on you here and you can do this. Your mum would want you to find a way forward into a better future and this is something you can do for her.

As Karena says, if you need to, speak to the Samaritans, but I think if you look inside yourself and to the skills and talents you already have, you will find you can put those to good use to find the path you need to find. I don't know if it will help, but there is another website you might find helpful for people who have lost loved ones at a young age. You may already know if it, but if not, try looking at Let's Talk About Loss. It is a really useful place to go to see how others who have lost loved ones at a young age have managed to cope with that.

There's no point comparing yourself to other people or looking to those incapable of helping to give you any solace. If a path leads nowhere, try a new one. Life is for the living and ends all too soon as it is. Don't look to make that time even shorter. Covid or no Covid, there are still lots of good things in the world, but you do have to look for them sometimes. Use the tools at your disposal and forget people who don't help you. It's your life and life is a treasure, not something to be squandered. How would your mum feel about it if you did that? Make the best of it while you can and look for what will help you move forward.  :hearts:

Offline Pep

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Re: Dreading Christmas
« Reply #8 on: November 08, 2020, 10:32:24 PM »
Hiya Sarah,

Your mates? Its a tough one.

You are reaching out for support from your friends and it seems you are not getting it from the people you expect it from. And maybe a slight bit of understanding? Grieving is harder when you start to try and explain yourself and try and explain your feelings.

For me, I lost two sisters and my dad (this isn't top trumps by the way) but this is the problem I have. I tried to explain my feelings to my brother who went through EXACTLY the same trauma as me. The things he was coming out with was like he was my dentist or something. Just blank or saying things like "this is temporary", and "you will get better soon".

REALLY!

(Oh... Did I say he is the nicest guy you will ever meet) I'm sure he didn't mean to come across and say things that I perhaps didn't expect and most probably he felt really uncomfortable talking to me. Was it frustrating? YES, could I of screamed at him? YES. Did I have an expectation of him understanding? YES. Was I wrong thinking all that? YES. Was he understanding but he was saying stuff I didn't want to hear? PROBABLY!

My point is, you need to lower your expectations with those you think won't give you the time of day.

Use us for your grieving support
Use your mates to have a drink with. Its sounds like they are a lot of fun to be with?

Talk to a doctor, a counsellor

There are lots of creative outlets you can try to get a handle on things. Don't just rely on just one thing. But you are here too... and that's good :)

Pep




Offline Nice2bNice

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Re: Dreading Christmas
« Reply #9 on: December 02, 2020, 12:20:06 AM »
Pep hot a nail on the head regarding your expectations of your friends, going through a similar but not the same situation I've found that my expectations of my friends did not meet my ideals.
Some people really don't want to uncover or talk about emotions with their friends but what you can't do is wonder why they never call, why they never visit, what you could do is wonder how they feel too.
I fell into this category and once I started talking, messaging and meeting people I learned how upset they themselves were and some people can't deal with that therefore they feel they can't support you.
Make things change, don't expect them to understand, unless they have been in the situation then they can't however perhaps they need to be reminded that you are still you inside, lost somewhere, torn apart with grief and unable to meet their expectations of you.
My dad passed away St Andrews day a few yrs ago, he loved Christmas, my partner passed suddenly in front of me in May of this year, she adored Christmas and much as it pains me I am going to celebrate Christmas as best I can as I love Christmas too yet there is no real sense of happiness and joy anywhere at the moment.
Should you end it, no I don't think so. There's always a point to consider. Yes I was there 6th October and I was touched by the love and friendship that came from around me, yes counselling helped but talking with familiar faces helped more regarding comfort and confidence.
I really do hope you can forgive yourself for what may have been and can look forward to what could be, wherever that is with the loving memories of your mum keeping you strong.