Sunday, November 13, 2016

Keeping busy, moving ahead

I've been in constant motion since I last wrote. This week I attended a workshop at Hospice that delved into coping with the holidays, went to the gym four days, walked 2 1/2 miles on three days, am finding the biweekly grief support group sessions very helpful and interesting, spent a lot of laborious time preparing for the weekend yard sale (which was pretty successful) and got to spend time with daughter Stephanie.

I have a feeling this will be a more like a novel.

So, here we go

I am so glad I attended the Hospice-sponsored Hope for the holidays workshop last Monday. Since Kevin passed away in June, I've done a fairly good job of moving from one day to the next, keeping myself occupied with tasks, responsibilities and social contacts. It's been workable, sort of.

But, the holiday season is around the corner and until this week, I've put off thinking about Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Years with two grand kid birthdays in the mix. Kevin LOVED the holidays. I love reminiscing about Christmas and the wonderful times we shared. Looking ahead without him here makes me sad.

He had many traditions, starting with Thanksgiving dinner being accompanied by Arlo Guthrie's Alice's Restaurant, whenever possible. Speaking of music, Kevin had many hours worth of holiday music on his iPod.Before iPods he had holiday CDs. Before CDs he had tapes and when we first met he had holiday record albums. It was all we listened to very year for six weeks.

He loved the tree, decorating inside and a few lights here and there outdoors. We collected ornaments over the years and made many. I was thinking about listing some of his favorite Christmas objects, but the list is too long. Most are pieces given to us from family, daughters and grand kids. Everything Kevin collected was more than special to him. And he collected all that was the holidays.
Cookies. He helped make gingerbread cookies. I rolled the dough out and he mastered the cookie cutters. He also, mastered eating them -- gingerbread cookies were always his favorites and each year we would keep on making them until I slowed the production down around Easter. 

Cards. For quite a few years Kevin included a letter with the cards we sent. It was a synopsis of our year, the  high points. Last year, Kevin was weak and worn out from chemotherapy.  I'd been drawing cards Kevin sent as thank yous to friends and family who'd written to him during his fight with cancer. He asked me to make our Christmas cards. It was a fun project to do together. It meant a lot to Kevin. The only thing he enjoyed more was getting cards and pictures  from others.

For quite a few years he kept the cards we'd received. He was sentimental, like his mom. She always kept cards she'd received, from year to year. Kevin also purchased the cards we sent. To avoid being wasteful he would always try to use up leftover cards he'd bought for the year before. One Christmas, mom informed him we'd sent her the same card two years in a row. That was pretty funny and he made sure that didn't happen, again.

We celebrated most years with our children. At our house or at one of their homes. There were years when we celebrated by ourselves. We were never apart for the holidays. So, suddenly I am facing the holidays without Kevin doing all of the above. And it sucks.

Best to be prepared

This is where all I've learned at the holiday workshop is crucial to getting myself through it. One thing, I was being so blase about it I didn't realize how emotional it will be during the holidays. 

Every day it is important to have a plan. Grieving can take all of my energy. So, anxiety, stress and most emotions can be so destructive on my health and well being. It is so much better to wake up each morning with something planned for the day. I don't have to go overboard and I can slip a few options in, just in case I change my mind about the plan. 

This is even more important for getting through the holidays, solo. Basically, I can have a plan to spend those special days with friends or family and away from home. It isn't advisable to host  a big party on my own. I need to always have a plan B. For those accepting an invitation, they should make sure their  host understands they may not be able to make it through the whole day, may leave before dinner, if it gets too stressful. And by all means I should listen to my body as it will let me know what's best for me.

I would like to write more about the workshop, but all we covered was extensive and I am running out of steam. Everyone in the workshop had different circumstances and concerns to discuss. Some things I hadn't thought about. Other issues similar to my own. 

The things we all have in common to consider is keeping the memory of our loved ones in mind while sharing the holidays with others. We should talk about them and maybe ask each person bring up something they remember about him or her. Better yet, write each memory down, make a book to share at future holiday gatherings. 

Also maintaining our health and avoiding anxiety. For me, I have to be careful not to overdo with so many things going on at once. I get rattled and forgetful.

I am loving the gym. Stephanie came for the weekend to help me with the yard sale. My friend Anna helped me out on Friday morning and Stephanie arrived on Friday afternoon, in time to go to the gym with me and help with the sale on Saturday. I did pretty well selling things we hadn't needed or used for a long time. My food dehydrator that I used mostly for drying fruits to decorate wreathes, a Serger (machine for sewing) I've had for years, but never really got the hang of using. DVDs, small fridge we bought when our refrigerator quit working and a new one couldn't be delivered for two days, some hats and other things. Stephanie and I took some items to Goodwill on Saturday afternoon and packed the rest for an upcoming yard sale at Weeki Wachee. I will probably regret that decision.


One thing nice about having the yard sale was getting to talk to so many neighbors. Some stopped by to  offer their condolences and remind me to come visit them or holler if I need anything. Many are snowbirds, returning to their winter homes and are just finding out about Kevin's passing..

And getting to spend time with Stephanie.  

Well, it must be getting late. The cat is letting me know she's ready for bed. Until next time. 

Thank you for reading my posts and comments I receive. 

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