The holidays are tough for grieving families. They're tough for a lot of people, really. There is so much expectation, so much obligation, so many memories to replicate and create.
In our last bereavement group we talked about how they are hard, and why they are hard, and how to make them less hard. I think part of why they hurt is that we're not used to having Christmas without Henry. We're used to not going to the grocery store with Henry, but this is only our second Christmas without him.
Last year we went out of town, to a cabin we'd never been too before. It was a very good decision, and made the holiday bearable. We'll be home this year, and I can feel the heaviness setting in my chest again. I've been very tearful this week.
It's such a struggle to honor his memory, honor our love of him, yet not feel so profoundly sad about it all of the time. Some days I push him away, to avoid the sad and hurt, but not on Christmas. This year, like last year, we assembled a small tree in his honor. It's got "his" ornaments on it, as well as a number of small wooden toys he assembled and painted during his last few months. This was a favorite activity of his.
We've also added a candle. I read another bereaved parent blog who described how her family used a candle to commemorate their son and brother, and thought it was really nice. I feel a need to be able to communicate with my family that Henry is really in my thoughts on a given day, without needing to say something sad that can easily affect everyone else's moods. It's a neutral expression of love for him. It's also really nice to walk in the room and see the candle lit and realize that someone else who loved him was thinking about him too.