The First Christmas.....

Discussion in 'After dementia — dealing with loss' started by snooky, Dec 17, 2009.

  1. snooky

    snooky Registered User

    May 12, 2007
    Boy, is it hard to even live without my dear dad who was lost to us 3 months ago today. The first Christmas is looming and it just gives me a pit in my stomach. I hate this illness and its effects on the person. It is so cruel and so drawn out. My dad was the gentlest person you could meet and who deserves to suffer with this illness, well no-one do they. Sorry, just feeling sad and sick and hard done by I suppose. Dad should be here enjoying his grandchildren and his children and his family and he isn't and it hurts hard.
  2. Tender Face

    Tender Face Account Closed

    Mar 14, 2006
    NW England
    Hi Snooky. You feel as sad and sick and whatever else you need ...... I found my ‘first Christmas’ tough (mum had died in the September last year) but was so full of emotion (anger, sadness you name it) I think sheer adrenaline got me through. This year – well, it’s just a great gaping hole. And for me it’s what I’ve recognised about Christmas – where other anniversaries, like birthdays, come around, we can slip into our grief almost unnoticed and manage it in our own quiet way .... not so easy this time of year ... this wonderful time of supposed family celebration tends to hit home who is missing – as well as enjoying the company of those we can still share it with?

    My teenage son insisted last year we laid a wreath at the cemetery on Christmas Eve (not the normal ritual I would do) and it did help (although I was a wreck and probably not fit to drive there through the tears). It felt mum (and dad) were still part of our Christmas and it allowed us to grieve and then move on a little and get some pleasure from the ‘celebrations’ ... I don’t know if that sort of thing is something would help you?

    Wishing you peace, love Karen, x
  3. snooky

    snooky Registered User

    May 12, 2007
    Hi Karen,

    So sorry to hear about your mum and dad; and thanks for your really thoughtful reply. I love that idea of laying a wreath at Christmas eve. You know, I think that is a lovely idea and I am definitely going to do that. You've hit the nail on the head about the time of year and Christmas being especially harder because it feels like everyone around is celebrating and I am going to be there, almost like in a 'bubble', looking on at them and joining in too, but not in spirit...

    Grief does take you by surprise and hits when you don't expect. I find myself really happy listening to the radio and the next minute I can be overwhelmed by grief; only when I'm on my own really though.

    I miss my dad so so much.

    Thanks again for a lovely idea.

  4. maryw

    maryw Registered User

    Nov 16, 2008
    Going through the "firsts" is tough and it's a rollercoaster year, the tears never far away when the pain hits. It hit me in November when I was instantly catapulted into a 5 week period of harsh memories culminating in the death of my dear Mum on Dec 30th last year.

    How to deal with it? Hmmm, well I thought long and hard and I could certainly hear my Mum telling me off for being miserable; I know she wanted me to be happy above all else. So the way I am dealing with it is focussing in thankfulness for all the love my Mum showed me, how she taught me to live in a caring way. So she lives on as I follow her example and I am trying not to think about the last few difficult weeks of her life.

    The change from being a carer to not being a carer can also leave a void in your life. How to fill the time.... I realise I am very lucky, but I chose to follow a dream I'd had for years and chose to do something new, learn to play the harp (carving on the harp to match Mum's furniture, harp bought with inheritance - Mum lives on). The new activity is engrossing, I play the harp to my Mum's photo and chat to her (Mum lives on) about how I'm doing and know how proud she would be. When I'm good perhaps I'll take the harp to the hospital and play carols on the elderly wards, in Mum's memory (Mum lives on).

    I've continued with my fund-raising for the visually impaired charity I support in memory of Mum, managed to raise over £1000 in memoriam donations at her funeral. Bless - how much did that say about her. I also organise quiz nights and concerts. In fact I reached over £20,000 this year and was given a national award (and I couldn't tell my Mum - well I did....) Bitter-sweet moments, but they've helped me as well as helping others, in my case, helping to fund research into a cure for blindness.

    I found it helped to do something positive in memory of the person you loved. No doubt there will be tears on Christmas Day but I am also looking forward to new ideas in the New Year - summer harp concert outside perhaps???

    Just sharing what I found has helped me. Hugs to all who are going through difficult Christmases xxx
  5. ElaineMaul

    ElaineMaul Registered User

    Jan 29, 2005
    You're post is so wonderfully positive. Such lovely ways of remembering your Mum. She would be proud of all you're doing.

    May God bless you for all that you are doing in her name. :)

    Take care,
  6. Tender Face

    Tender Face Account Closed

    Mar 14, 2006
    NW England
    Mary, that’s absolutely fantastic! All of it!!! :) The fund-raising and that you are embracing ‘Mum lives on’. As per previous post to Snooky – I tend to be someone tries to hide in denial .... but you have certainly given me something to think about,

    Thank you for sharing that .......

    Love Karen, x
  7. Grannie G

    Grannie G Volunteer Moderator

    Apr 3, 2006
    Dear Mary

    What a wonderful philosophy you have. Whatever you do your mum will live on in you.
  8. BeckyJan

    BeckyJan Registered User

    Nov 28, 2005
    Thank you Mary. I have been feeling unusually miserable within this normally happy season. You have given me much food for thought. Your Mum lives on.:)
  9. Norrms

    Norrms Registered User

    Feb 19, 2009
    Torquay Devon

    I lost my dear brother in law Malc this year and on Christmas eve about 6pm we are going to light a sky lantern and let it go over Babbacomce cliffs where we spread his ashes, maybe another idea?? Whatever you do i hope you all have a peaceful christmas, best wishes, Norrms and family xxxxxxxxxxx
  10. Mameeskye

    Mameeskye Registered User

    Aug 9, 2007
    I remember last year being so afraid in the run up to Christmas, the first without Mum. My Mum and Dad so loved Christmas and it did hurt, there was not denying it.

    But I found that they were there with me, in my celebrations as I passed on the joy and excitement to the grandchildren that they didn't get a chance to know (in Dad's case he died before I even conceived!)...but their joy and love of the festive season came through in the traditions they had shared and that I was passing on.

    I very much felt that they live on through me and through my children....and its strange becuase some where in me I have realised now that there will also be things that I say and do going back to ancestors I don't even know.

    Life is eternal and their love is eternal.

    Mary, your post was so inspirational.

    A Peaceful and joyous Christmas to you all, my friends.


  11. florrie

    florrie Registered User

    Dec 23, 2009
    #11 florrie, Dec 23, 2009
    Last edited: Dec 23, 2009
    first christmas without Dad

    Hi Snooky,

    I went to this forum for the first time today and found your message which resulted in yet another flood of tears. I lost my Dad to Alzheimer's in July. Christmas Day would have been his 75th birthday.

    Dad was diagnosed in October 2007. Looking back I can see how things were going wrong for him for some five or six years. He was a very handsome man, very honest and decent. He gave me a moral code to live by and never let me down. Through good and bad times he was my rock and I tried to be his in the final few years of his life.

    I can remember last Christmas talking to him as he was feeling rather thoughtful and asked me if I thought last year would be his last Christmas. I told him I thought he would he around for a long time but may not remember us. At the time I honestly believed this and it has been a huge trauma that his condition escalated downwards so quickly and dramatically. I guess I can empathise with you about the same bottomless pit of loss that I have been feeling and which overwhelms me as we approach Christmas.

    The staff in the Care Home where Dad lived from April to July were wonderful, professional and compassionate human beings, who supported me as well, and attended the Humanist funeral I arranged for Dad. I want to take them a gift and card today but havn't been able to make myself go. It is so hard to walk back in there. My Mum is in another Care Home and does not acknowledge that Dad ever existed and there is no one who wants to talk about those long term term memories which is why I guess I have eventually found my way to this website today.

    I have not found the way ahead yet but want to remember Dad in a positive way and live my life like that as a lasting tribute to him. I try to dig back into memories of the things we shared and what he put into me which has made me into the person I am today. Both my sons are fine young men (usually!) and I see in them standards of behaviour and attitudes which they absorbed from the example Dad set for them. It is part of my beliefs that we live on in peoples' lives through the example we set in our own.

    I have Dad's greenhouse waiting to be erected in my garden so my partner and myself can continue Dad's passion for all things green. I have a feeling that this is where I might go and have a 'chat' with him from time to time and that will be a comfort too. Dad's Great Western Railway books were donated to our local GWR museum for other enthusiasts to enjoy. How that would have tickled Dad.

    Perhaps the most comforting messages that came through time after time in the days after his death were memories from his friends who repeatedly said how much he used to make them laugh. Surely there is no greater tribute to a life than that, to bring laughter into peoples' lives.

    I hope none of this sounds trite and that it may help you during this time. Wishing you all the best at Christmas.

  12. snooky

    snooky Registered User

    May 12, 2007
    Hi Florrie,

    What a lovely reply, thanks. Your love for your Dad shines through in your post to me and your words are very true. I believe my Dad will continue on through me and my sis and our children. My Dad was 75 years in August and was diagnosed a while back when he was 67, but it was the continual chest infections which he has always suffered from and could no longer fight which contributed towards his passing in September. I remember sitting and watching Mamma Mia with Dad last Christmas, he so loved that film and I think had great taste! He also watched the Wizard of Oz every single Christmas and that was a running joke in our family.

    I remember when Dad passed lots of people came up to me and said how gentle and kind he was and he was a very well known man in our town, having lived here all his life and worked hard here. It still feels so raw to be honest and his last weeks were not good ones and I spent hours with him every day, because mum could not cope seeing him that way. I didn't want him to be on his own and it was the hardest thing I have ever done, watching someone you love disintegrate daily, especially Dad's last night, which wasn't easy at all and something I will never be able to forget, but it can't have been easy for him either, but we were there for him and comforting him. I couldn't let go of his hand for hours and it was a very emotional and traumatic time.

    Your right, the best tribute we can give to our Dad's is for them to live on in some way in us, and, I think we are both very lucky to have had such wonderful Dad's. I know I will draw on happy memories when the rawness has passed and I know that I have many of those and I am sure you do too. I'm thankful for the Dad I had and for the memories that I am now left with and thanks to you for such a heartfelt and caring reply.

    Wishing you and your family a peaceful, loving Christmas.

  13. Prague09

    Prague09 Registered User

    Jul 22, 2008
    Dear Snooky

    So sorry for the loss of your Dad. Christmas is hard...I missed my Dad so much.
    Prague 09
  14. NewKid

    NewKid Registered User

    Mar 26, 2009
    Another Tribute to Dads - God bless em!

    "I'm thankful for the Dad I had' - that's so lovely... I am too! I watched Mama Mia with him last Christmas Day as well! I often say to my children 'I can hear my Dad laughing now' - because he laughed so loudly and so readily - especially at their antics, of course :D And I loved long thoughful chats with him too... The greenhouse idea is special... the donation of the books. I gave my Dad's walking boots to a homeless charity and cried so much at their loss - cos it was a favourite passtime of his - but like to think of them on some cold man's feet at the moment... he was a charitable man and would too. They live on and have formed us, and we love 'em always.

    I hope you guided yourself through Christmas safely everyone - however it was done. Mine too was without dad for the first time, but with Mum who is the one with the AZ. :(

    Love to all the special children with the special parents (that's us - ;) )
  15. maryw

    maryw Registered User

    Nov 16, 2008
    NewKid, loved your post - that's wonderful that your Dad's walking boots are going to the homeless and that must have been such a difficult thing to do. And yes, we are so lucky to have had special parents and yes, I do think they live on in the way we live, our mannerisms, our likes and dislikes etc.

    First anniversary of my dear Mum's death today. Thinking back to the last few months of her life, no matter how much I miss her, I still have to be grateful that she is at peace and was spared more suffering.

    I am quiet, thoughtful (heavens don't you remember every minute and every detail of the last few days?) but planning to "share" the special day in memory of her by visiting one of her favourite places (a very special farm/garden centre/farm shop)and thinking back to happy times and remembering how lucky I was to enjoy days out like that with her in the past. Then I shall practise my harp and play to her photo xxxx
  16. NewKid

    NewKid Registered User

    Mar 26, 2009
    Mary hi, I hope today went well for you - as much as it could do. You have such a pro-active and positive way of dealing with your loss and living your Mum through your new (and older) activities. Take care and enjoy that harp playing to your own special angel

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