Wednesday, November 19, 2014

3 Tips for Getting Through the Holidays

With Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Years and all the birthdays and anniversarys in between, the holidays are barrelling down on us like a runaway train. Seeing them coming all at once gets overwhelming for the best of us, but  especially if this is the first or second year of widowhood.

Often, the aniticipation is worse than the day itself. But it's important to think ahead and prepare a little at least so it doesn't catch you off guard. If you do, the holidays might not be as bad. In fact, they can surprise you with precious moments and priceless memories.
Here are a few tips:

1. Give yourself something to look forward to on Thanksgiving Day
  • Take a trip out of town to visit relatives or friends.
  • Ditch the traditions. There's no way this year will be anywhere near traditional anyway. Try something totally different like spending the day volunteering at a homeless shelter.
  • Instead of cooking like a maniac, make reservations at a restaurant that serves on the holiday. Then go to a movie to pass the rest of the afternoon or evening.
  • If you've never tried the Black Friday shopping mania, buy a Thanksgiving Day newspaper and map out the stores and bargains you'll find. Go to bed early, set your alarm for 3 or 4 a.m., set your budget, too, then start your engine, fire up that crazy glint in your eye, and yell "CHARGE!"
2. Give yourself an escape plan
  • You're at Aunt Jane's and feel like you'll suffocate or explode? This will be easier if before you go, talk to Aunt Jane and say something like, "If I disappear for a few minutes, please don't worry about me. I get these little grief storms and I might slip into the bedroom or take a little walk. I'll be back shortly and I'll be OK." If Aunt Jane disagrees with you and says you have nothing to cry about, then you'll know maybe you shouldn't even go to her house. But chances are she'll be your bodyguard and valient defender if you let her in on the plan.
  • For other situations, like a restaurant, movie theater or shopping, you can just walk out. But you can also slip into the restroom first, think about what's best for others involved if you've got children, family or friends with you, and pray. Then you can leave, but you might be glad you stayed. In any case, you've given yourself the ability to make a choice and do what's best for you.
3. Be your own best friend.
  • Look in the mirror and ask, "What does this girlfriend need right now?" Then remember this: "My God shall supply all your needs . . ." Philippians 4:19, and set out to find what God has supplied.
  • Don't hesitate to call in the troops. Ask for help, or invite yourself over to someone's and help them. Unbelievable as it might sound, people think you've got it all together and that you don't need them. Cash in on all the "If there's anything I can do" offers you've received.
It's wise to see these days coming on the calendar. Try to prepare for them by giving yourself something to look forward to, keep in mind an escape plan and be your own best friend.
Your Heavenly Father has not abandoned you. He loves you and holds you close.

Send in your ideas for dealing with the holidays to encourage other widows. If you missed my post about the book "The Empty Chair-- Handling Grief on Holidays and Special Occasions" and what a good help it is for getting through holidays year round, click here. I think you'll really like it.


  1. Good ideas, Ferree! I like #3 (first bullet point) and laughed out loud with #1 (4th bullet point). Planning ahead is key for me because I really enjoyed the holidays of past. I am thankful that I no longer get caught up in the dread of a celebratory day if I prepare and anticipate the things I can still make happen. A reminder that all things are possible through Him that loves us. This did not come overnight for was the result of many prayers for a good life as a survivor. Thank you for posting your ideas for a holiday of change.

  2. Now you're making me lol Sheila, as I picture my friends all across the country yelling "Charge...!" before the sun comes up next Friday. And it's great to know that planning ahead helps you out and the Lord is seeing you through this season!

  3. With the 4 year anniversary nearly at hand, I'm doing better with the anticipation of the holidays! Yet, because my husband passed on Christmas Eve And his birthday was New Years Eve, it adds to the necessity for me to work diligently at focusing on the happy memories instead of dreading the emptiness I feel! I actually signed up for two crafting events at a local antique/gift store! I'm not one to go places like that alone but felt the need to really help myself have fun during this season! Thanks for the ideas, Ferree!!! You are always a blessing!

  4. Dear Cindy, The first online widow friend I met in person was also widowed on Christmas Eve, actually very early Christmas morning so her little girls woke up to a very sad Christmas morning. And I've recently met another who's husband passed on Christmas. Death is no respecter of holidays, and I'm so sorry for your loss. I'm so thankful you've shared with us how the Lord is strengthing you and you're making choices that are setting you up for happiness and healing. I'd love to hear how the craft classes go and I need to visit your very wonderful blog and catch up with your other posts too. You're such a good writer and I'm always impressed with everything you do. Have a wonderful Thanksgiving Day too. <3


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