Each new milestone a family comes across after losing a loved one is difficult, especially holidays. We lost Preslee in July, and struggled through Halloween and Thanksgiving, but the thought of celebrating Christmas without a child, without Preslee, was unbearable. Pat and I never discussed it, but we both knew how the other felt. We didn’t decorate for Christmas that year. We later learned it was difficult for our parents to watch, they knew they wanted to help, but weren’t quite sure what to do.
Just days before Christmas, my dad showed up with a live, heavy, frozen tree. He had bought a tree that could be planted in the Spring, as long as it stayed frozen throughout the winter. That meant it could only be put up in our house for about three days before it unthawed. My dad is so sweet, he even stopped at a craft store and bought us gold and white angel ornaments. When he arrived he called it our ‘Angel Tree,’ helped set it up and then let us decorate it. He told us it would help us incorporate Preslee into our home.
It helped immensely.
Come spring, we knew we wouldn’t live in our house forever, so we opted to have the tree planted in my parents back yard. We love watching it grow, and over the years we’ve taken family pictures in front of it.
This year, I was at my parents house when Ledger ran excitedly into the kitchen yelling for me. He grabbed my hand and began pulling me towards the back door, begging me to come with him. When we walked down the steps, there was Preslee’s tree lit up with Christmas lights. My dad was kind enough to include Ledger, and he couldn’t stop talking about “His sister’s tree,” for days. Even four years out, I appreciate when others make an effort to remember Preslee, even more so when they include my kids.
If you aren’t sure how to help a family who has lost a loved one this year, this is an idea. I’ll list more affordable ideas below, but even just mentioning the person who passed away will help your grieving family members.
Ways to Help
The holidays can be incredibly painful. Remember there is no wrong or right way to grieve, please be patient with those who are grieving.
- Allow them to say no to invitations.
- Allow them to change their mind often.
- Remember the Holidays will never be the same for them.
- Allow them to cry, laugh, or leave when they need to.
- Remember much of what they is a reflection of their grief, not their feelings about the holiday or friends and family.
- Allow traditions to change to accommodate the missing space.
- Let them know when you are hurting or missing their angel too.
Gifts to Help a Grieving Family During Christmas.
- Buy an ornament each year in remembrance of your loved one.
- Have each child make an ornament for their sibling/parent who has passed away. (I taught a little girl who lost her sister, she told me about this one, and she loved it.)
- Complete a service project in behalf of your loved one.
- My parents buy each grand kid a book for Christmas, they still buy one for Preslee and donate it to our city library.
- Visit the cemetery and leave something for Christmas. (I love when I know others have been there).
- Write down your favorite memories of the individual who has passed away, and present it to the family.
Do you have any different ideas? If so, leave me a comment! I’d love to add it to the list!