The holidays can be the most difficult time of the year to deal with a loss. It has been years since my family has been separated by deaths and we were all able to sit at one table together for a holiday meal.
The worst thing to do in dealing with a loss during the holidays is to not talk about the person or people who have died.
My father had been dead for five months, I was 12 years old, and the Thanksgiving dinner table was set the same as the year before, with the exception that my dad’s spot at the end of the table was bare. There were no wise-cracking jokes, no silly faces and no throwing of Grandma’s homemade biscuits across the long table at my grandfather when he asked to have them passed.
What emphasized the fact that he was not there anymore was that nobody talked about him nor looked at his empty spot at the table. I felt like I was in a Twilight Zone episode. Maybe about 10 minutes into the meal, I remember going to my mother, hugging her and telling her, “everyone’s pretending it is all okay.”
When my Grandma Cole asked, “What’s wrong with Kenny?” my mother repeated so the family could hear what I had said to her. My family was afraid to say anything about our father as it may upset us. However, what they did not realize was that it was upsetting to not talk about him. With that, all I remember was one of Grandma’s biscuits bouncing off my head after being hurled at me. The entire family laughed out loud. I was able to taste my tears, that moment is so clear.
My recommendation is to embrace the loss. It is okay to talk about a person. It may seem a bit uncomfortable on both sides to bring up a memory, but, believe me, those uncomfortable moments can be created into wonderful life memories.