The Festive Rollercoaster

If you're a young widow reading this, then you made it through Christmas 2021! Give yourself a huge pat on the back - we did it!

Whether it was your first without your love or you are not new to this section of the rollercoaster - this is for you. Maybe you have created the magic for your children, got through it with family, or spent it alone. Perhaps you navigated this Christmas with a new partner while honouring the one you are widowed from. If you had to take a break to go for a walk or just sit quietly with your memories; or if you visited a grave, a bench or a special place this Christmas, and wept, screamed, swore, whispered, or prayed; or if you made new traditions, ran away, went on holiday, or ignored the day under the duvet watching TV; or if you had a great day and experienced joy and laughter; or a mixture of all the above - then I salute you.

It's one of the many experiences only the other young and widowed can really understand. The expectation is that Christmas should be magical and spent with family, but to create that magic there is usually someone who is planning and shopping and prepping and wrapping. If previously you were creating that magic with, or for, a partner who has died, the run up to Christmas can feel like an endurance event. If you are having to manage making Christmas magical for young children solo it is utterly exhausting. The day itself might not have been as bad as you prepared for, or perhaps it was worse; maybe your emotions, like mine, were all over the place, but either way, you deserve to be acknowledged for the strength and the courage that has got you to the other side of Christmas.

But - hold tight, this rollercaster isn't finished yet! We still have New Year to get through!

It seems that only those who have been there can understand the sense of dread at new year. As we approach the end of the last year our love was alive, or the calendar rolls into a(nother) year that they have never lived in, the sense of moving away from them can be overwhelming. Personally I find new year far more emotional than Christmas. In my heart I guess I will always want to go back, to spot the warning signs and stop it all happening - or even just to have one more day with him. Time has other ideas as it marches relentlessly forward, and this is never more obvious than as the clock chimes in the new year. I sometimes imagine it as me being driftwood or a boat on a river or a tide being swept away from the island, further and further from the home that was him, towards a new and unknown future.

If it's your first Christmas season since being widowed this might all catch you off guard, hence me writing about it - I had so many people warn me to prepare for my first Christmas without him, but nobody warned me about the sadness that would engulf me as everyone cheered in the new year, or the tears that would choke my throat as I tried to join in with the words of auld lang syne.

The ideas I shared in my blog before Christmas apply at new year as well. You will get through it, but take the time to listen to what you need, and don't feel pressure to do anything that isn't right for you. If tears come, then be reassured that it's normal, you really aren't losing it! If you're glad to see the back of the year of the trauma of that loss, or hopeful of a better year ahead, then that's normal too.

This will be my fourth new year, and I have my daughter's birthday on new years day, another day where his absence is so noticeable it is almost it's own presence. This year I know to expect the mixed emotions, and to just hold on! Like Christmas, it will be over before you know it and normal widow(er)-ing can resume.

This New Year's Eve I raise my glass to all the young widows, and wish you peace for 2022.

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