Helping Your Newly-Widowed Parent Get Through the Holiday Season

Beatrice found the holidays right after Arthur died to be the hardest time for her. She had always done most of the shopping and baking, but he had put up the Christmas tree and the outside decorations. But it wasn’t his handyman services she missed as much as him being there to talk to. Who would she share memories with now?

This was also on the mind of her daughter, Clair. She contacted her sister, Millie, and they decided to step into Mom’s life at least for this first holiday season and see what they could do. At first Beatrice didn’t want to put up a tree or any other decorations because her heart wasn’t in it. Her daughters persuaded her that the neighborhood needed her little bit of cheer so she agreed to do it for their sakes. Millie and her husband selected a tree for her mother’s house and they set it up in the living room. The grandchildren were called on to do their part in bringing cheer to their grandmother’s life by decorating the tree and putting the electric candles in the windows. Everyone tried to keep the mood light by remembering times in the past with grandfather.

Clair and Millie took over sending out Christmas cards for their mother. They got out her address book and in some cards they included a note to tell of Arthur’s death to those who might not have heard. They spent more of their time than usual visiting their mother, knowing that, left to her own devices, she would spend her time in depression and sorrow. They also allowed her to be alone with her grief, remembering that it is a process and not to hurry her through it.

Beatrice was glad of their help and she let them guide her through Christmas shopping. She felt so numb and making decisions was difficult. She did most of her work in the morning or late afternoon, allowing time for a restful nap after lunch. Sometimes she just wanted to stay there in bed but she knew that her family was expecting at least some effort from her so she tried to invest a little of herself every day for their sakes.

Harriet Vaughan

About Harriet Vaughan

I am a Senior Move Manager, working with Senior Citizens and their families when it is time to downsize or just make the home safer and more comfortable for aging in place. I help these people make decisions about what to keep, throw out, donate, or sell. I also offer workshops on "Getting Things Done When You Are Over 60". I write about how to overcome memory lapses and how to use your physical energy well. I have a degree in Home Economics from the University of Maine. I live in Coopers Mills, about 14 miles east of Augusta. I have been married for almost 50 years to my husband, Chuck Vaughan. Our business is called Legacy Years Transition Services.