Take Two – My Second Christmas as a Widow

Christmas shelf

Christmas shelf

Last year I wrote a post about how I felt approaching my first Christmas as a widow. I can’t lie, it was not easy; it was the run-up to the holidays that I found hard. Christmas is meant to be all about sharing good times and gifts with those you love, and when someone you really, really love has gone, it’s just hard to feel happy about any of it.

Having kids helps, as luckily for them they are young enough to not let loss stop them getting excited about Father Christmas coming. They love all the parties, the plays, the presents. Without them, I would probably be truly miserable, drinking too much and going out of my mind with loneliness. With them here I’m kept busy, I have endless to-do lists, my mind is rarely still and I don’t have the energy or stamina to drink too much! Their smiles make me smile – and although juggling everyone’s activities in a struggle, it’s happening, and we’re managing.

My second Christmas as a widow is here and although it is easier, it still doesn’t feel as it should. I don’t suppose it ever will really. I read an article the other day about how loss changes how people feel about big events, it’s like always being somewhere with part of your family missing. Even though you’re smiling, you never stop thinking about that.

People have said to me they don’t think I should be thinking too much about special dates, dwelling on how long it’s been, but you know what? How can I not, when I think about it so much, every single day? It’s not that I’m always feeling totally sad about it, I mean I couldn’t function if I were still crying every day. But loss changes you, and big dates like Christmas and birthdays really make you feel it.

Christmas door

One of the most searched terms on my blog at the moment is ‘not feeling festive’ which shows there must be lots of people out there feeling the same.

Last year I cried my eyes out at Sam’s school nativity. This year I’ve already got through Florence’s without shedding a single tear – only smiles – so that’s progress.

It’s only 10 days until Christmas Eve and we’ve yet to properly trim up the house. Our work on the playroom has held things up a bit, as all the furniture and toys that were in there have been spread around the rest of the house for the past month, making space a bit tight. We’re on the home straight with that now though so hopefully our tree will go up by the weekend and the house will start feeling ready for the holidays.

I’ve planned some fun things in, like seeing friends, nights out, family parties and a trip to the Hidden Christmas Market at Kirkstall Abbey next week. That’s organised by the fab Eeh Bah Mum by the way, check out her blog if you don’t know it already.

I’m even trying to remember to move this elf around the house as Flo really believes in its magic. The only thing is I normally end up falling asleep and forgetting! This little setup on the photo is my only creative elf achievement so far.

December may suck some of the time, but I’m trying to make it as much fun as I can in between!

Elf with paper cuts

It’s 17 months now since Roger died, and I suppose at the time I didn’t really put a time limit on how I would feel at what point down the line. Somewhere in my mind though I think I thought two years later life would be a lot more sorted, a lot easier, things would have moved forward. Well we’re nearly at that point and although physically a lot has changed in that time, it really does only feel like yesterday I was sitting with him in the hospice. Not that long either since I was visiting him on a hospital ward the year before, wondering if he would be home for Christmas Day (he was).

It’s been four years since we had a happy family Christmas, but I know it’s all about building new Christmas traditions now and remembering Rog as we go.

I may not love Christmas like I used to, and it might sometimes feel like an uphill struggle, but it is what it is and I’ll enjoy making it fun for Sam and Flo. In the meantime, please bear with me if I’m not feeling overly joyous, or if I don’t get round to writing my Christmas cards, or if I haven’t bought the right presents. I’m here and I’ve made it!

x Julia

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  • Reply
    Mini Travellers/Fuelled by Latte
    December 14, 2016 at 8:41 pm

    You are doing absolutely brilliantly and you should be proud, I know from all you have said that Rog would be. We need to get a proper meet up arranged in the new year. Love you xxx

  • Reply
    Leigh - Looking for a Bright Side
    December 14, 2016 at 8:56 pm

    Grief really does have no time limit – special dates are always going to be more difficult. Always makes me cross when people suggest things should be better now. Much love, lovely xxx
    Leigh – Looking for a Bright Side recently posted…Awesome Advent Door 7: Love Your Shape!My Profile

  • Reply
    Claire Barnard
    December 14, 2016 at 9:03 pm

    Your children are so lucky to have you as their Mum x you’re an inspiration it must be really hard at this time of year. As you say the children are a wonderful distraction and it’s great that you can ‘do’Christmas for them building more happy memories on top if those get you have from Christmases past xxx good luck

  • Reply
    December 14, 2016 at 10:34 pm

    I only know from when my friend lost his wife that things do become manageable…somehow. But I think you’re right, I don’t think celebrations are the same again. I wonder if they eventually morph Into a new normal? In the meantime it sounds like keeping busy sort of works. I’m loving your new playroom. I so want one!!
    Notmyyearoff recently posted…My nearly 6 year oldMy Profile

  • Reply
    Sarah Christie
    December 14, 2016 at 10:48 pm

    Julia you are amazing and have done so bloody well, Rog will be so proud of you, and the kids will look back and think our mum still made it special. I will be thinking of you over this time lovely lady xxx

  • Reply
    Katy (What Katy Said)
    December 14, 2016 at 10:57 pm

    When I first met Dave his mum had been dead 5 years and I remember thinking that was ages ago. Looking back I now think oh my god it was ONLY 5 years. You are only 2 years along Julia, and even 5 years along it will only feel like yesterday. It has been 13 years now and I’d say it is only the last couple of years that the family has mended, so don’t ever feel the need to apologise or be in the mood when you aren’t. It is all so raw and I think you are doing bloody brilliantly. I hope Flo and Sam have a lovely Christmas and you get your decs up in time. Ours still aren’t up as I wait for after Lily’s birthday tomorrow. Big hugs Julia xxxx
    Katy (What Katy Said) recently posted…Moving Into The Britax Römer DUALFIXMy Profile

  • Reply
    Tracey Williams
    December 16, 2016 at 2:30 pm

    Julia you really are an inspiration to your beautiful children. It must be so hard at this time of year, when a piece of your jigsaw is missing over Christmas. Sounds as if the children are keeping you busy and making you smile. huge hugs to you all at Christmas xx
    Tracey Williams recently posted…Little loves – Afternoon Tea, Winter Wonderland and Feeling all FestiveMy Profile

  • Reply
    Megan - Truly Madly Kids
    December 17, 2016 at 11:44 am

    Oh Julia, another post written straight from your heart. It may not be what it once was, but you’re finding your way and it’s inspirational to watch you. I hope you have a lovely Christmas with your two wonderful children. Much love to you XXX

  • Reply
    Californian Mum in London
    December 17, 2016 at 12:14 pm

    I know it’s not that same, but seven years after my Father’s death, I still cry my eyes out at holidays and special occasions. It gets easier after time, but there is not a certain number of years where we can just get over it. Your children are so lucky to have such a lovely mum. xx
    Californian Mum in London recently posted…Hey Mamas, It Does Get EasierMy Profile

  • Reply
    December 17, 2016 at 4:12 pm

    It sounds like you have come to terms with how you will feel at this time of year and I am so glad you have the children around you – they are a definite distraction. I think it’s healthy to remember dates and things – and really, just do whatever works for you. There’s no ‘how to’ for how you are feeling. I hope the children have a magical Christmas and that you don’t find it too tough xx
    Donna recently posted…Review: Frozen Northern Lights Elsa DollMy Profile

  • Reply
    December 18, 2016 at 1:20 am

    You are such a brave and wonderful person. I would have collapsed in a heap of depression and never return to any form of normality again. Here you are battling at life and sticking two fingers up to expectations, you are fab!!!!
    RachelSwirl recently posted…#LittleLoves – A Blast From The PastMy Profile

  • Reply
    Lotte Brouwer
    December 23, 2016 at 11:10 pm

    What a beautiful and honest, open blog post. You’re clearly such a brave and strong woman, and it can’t be easy to be smiles all the time but it sounds like you’re a wonderful mum xx Lotte (

  • Reply
    Fionnuala Three Sons Later
    December 30, 2016 at 8:08 am

    Julia you are so honest about your feelings, it is wonderful to read. It seems like you are doing well under the circumstances and that you building a great life for Sam and Flo, different though it may be from how you had envisioned it.

  • Reply
    January 14, 2017 at 6:54 pm

    I’m so sorry to hear about your loss. I have only just found your blog but your words resonated with me so much. I lost my Dad nearly 15 years ago, his birthday is 18th December and I find it really hard on special days and family days. Especially now I have a little one who loves her Grandad and can only see pictures of my Dad. There is a gaping hole on my side everytime we are all together. It’s super hard and I don’t think you ever get to a time when you don’t think about that person on those key dates. Loss is bloody hard, unless you’ve lost someone close you can’t even imagine it. Sending lots of hugs to you and I hope you managed to have a good Christmas with him looking down on you ‘from the clouds’ as I tell my daughter xxxx

  • Reply
    Loss, love and lights on our third Christmas
    December 17, 2017 at 9:13 pm

    […] wrote a post about my first Christmas as a widow, and again about my second, and was kind of thinking I wouldn’t repeat it this year. But here it is, I guess this is how […]

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