Surviving the Holidays Post-Heartbreak

Excerpted from Mending Broken Hearts: Meditations for Finding Peace and Hope after Heartbreak


One woman wrote to her friends after the terrible wrenching away of her husband of 30 years, "The holidays were as good as can be expected under the circumstances." Perhaps that is our goal the first year -- that our holidays are "as good as can be expected," with the hope of better ones to come.

It doesn't matter what holiday. Memories of good times and cherished traditions will play in our heads every July 4, Thanksgiving, Hanukkah, Christmas, New Year's, Valentine's Day (maybe not a paid holiday, but your holiday), and Memorial Day. Holidays mark the passage of time. This first year is the hardest, and we are all well advised to gratefully accept all invitations and busy ourselves visiting friends and relatives.

Holidays also present opportunities for new traditions. My first year alone I tried to duplicate Christmas dinners past with a sit-down meal for a dozen, including appetizer; turkey in full regalia; cherry, pumpkin, and apple pies; and eight cookie varieties for evening snack. This on top of tree, stockings, and gifts, all purchased and decorated myself. My two sons departed for their father's that Christmas evening, and I crawled into bed and slept until 4pm the next day. The following year my 8- and my 10-year-old sat down with me, and together we planned what was most important. They declared the turkey a must but sacrificed pies to ice cream sundaes. By the time the boys were teenagers, Christmas had evolved into an "eat your favorite food" meal, which meant -- for one fateful year -- pizza. The tradition of serving what we most wanted stuck, and we laughed each December over the ludicrous feast we'd had the year before.

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