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Hi all. Well it has now been 5 months since my dear MIL left us. 5 months and there are still moments where I am in disbelief that she is gone. Like how can this be? In that moment it just doesn’t seem real. She can’t be gone. And then there are days like today where I want to scream and cry! Is this all part a normal part of grief? I honestly don’t know how I will make it through the holidays feeling like this!


They say the “firsts” are the worst and boy do I believe it! Tomorrow is 11/1, it’s now time to prepare for Thanksgiving. Christmas stuff is already starting to appear everywhere. After thanksgiving it’s full speed ahead to Christmas. How Can I be strong for my husband and children when all I want to do is scream and cry? With my own mother living out of state & who I only see a couple times a year, my MIL was like a 2nd mother to me. Even when we didn’t see eye to eye, I knew she had my back. She was always going to be here for me. She was supposed to be here for her grandchildren, see them move on from elementary to middle school, then graduate high school and college. And now she’s not and she should be! How do I let go of this anger? How do I get over the disbelief and come to terms with this? I keep trying to think not of the fact that she left us, but of everything she gave us and it just doesn’t help because I keep going back to what we lost! We lost the backbone of the family. The person who kept us all together.


No matter what, even if we didn’t see eye to eye, she would have done anything for anyone of us. She loved us unconditionally. She gave us the family home, her front door was always open, it was our safe place. We were always welcome in that house. She raised 3 amazing children with strong family values and good work ethics. The same love & devotion she gave her children she also gave to her grandchildren. And now she is gone and the family home is gone. And the holidays are upon us. A Time always so special and I really don’t know how to get through them when one minute I am in disbelief and the next I want to scream! I have young children that don’t really understand but I know that this Christmas is when it will hit them because it won’t be the same, their grandma who was always here and was such a huge presence, will not be here. My BIL and SIL are the emotional ones, this is going to be even harder for them. how do I pull it together so that I can be strong for them and help them get through this?

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It’s been 11 years for Mom and 23 for Dad. Yes the Holidays are hard. Do something different this year but also keep some of the family traditions alive as a way to remember her. WE made a few changes after losing my Dad in 1995 MIL in 2000, FIL in 2009 and Mom in 2007. This year bring more changes as we have recently lost both my husband’s brother in December 2015 and sister this September to cancer. We move ahead for the next generation, my son was only 3 when my Dad passed and by the time we lost FIL we had a new nephew to celebrate. There will be moments when the grief is overwhelming, take the time to be sad, it’s ok. We all have our own timeframe for this journey. I still have moments when I feel lost without them.
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Reply to EllensOnly
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Acceptance that it is the cycle of life. I still miss my parents and wish I could have done more for them. I miss my brother I was very close to, who died suddenly of a heart attack in his early 50's. Feel the grief and allow yourself time to go deep, in order to make it get better as time goes. I am sorry for you and your family's loss.
Great to have a good MIL.

You might want to do the 'deep' process with the whole family in a quiet way. Go to your core and let it out quietly, until the depth of your pain and anger is felt. From there it gets better with time. Take care and I wish you strength and send you light.
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Reply to goodspirit
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Worriedincallie; sorry for your loss ...all of your feelings are normal process of greif you have the right to greive also do not feel guilty because you loved someone who has passed just always remember that your MIL lives on thtough all of her family she has left a peice of her existence with each and every life that she has touched. Never forget that you are also only human and its ok to be sad its ok to let your husband and his sister and brother know how much you loved their mom this will give them comfort knowing how much you respected her will make their greiveing feel more normal .Your anger is part of greif and is normal! There is nothing wrong with you ... loseing a loved one is just terribul, my dad has been gone for almost 2 yrs and I I find myself crying all the time ...my sister died 11 years ago and I still cry and I still get angry ,my heart goes out to you I know your pain and its its Okay For you you feel upset!! stop thinking you have to carry the whole burden your husband will understand that your sad and helping with the kids is a good way for him to clear his mind so remember God wont give you more than you can handel and it'll just make you stronger!! I send hugs and prayers your way!!
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Reply to Lorraine12
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You will get to a point someday where you can share a moment or situation you had with her and actually smile, or even chuckle. That's when the healing and processing of her being gone won't be so bad.
I found this to be true for me. Count your blessings, Did you learn alot from her being the "backbone" of the family? Carry it on. You will survive this, though losing someone that close to you is devastating, we all must go sometime.
Holiday's are for family and you still have that. Your not alone, it could be alot worse. Take care, I think she's hoping u will too.
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Reply to cheriel53
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I think that you were truly blessed to have had a loving, sweet relationship with your MIL.

MANY of us do not have that--or anything remotely close to it. As much as I wanted to be friends with my MIL, the truth was that she hated me with a grand passion and still does. I cannot be around her, literally. She is so hateful and negative to all of us inlaws. I will not shed a tear when she dies. A huge and ugly burden of her constant negativity & hatred will be gone.

You have been given a wonderful gift, the relationship that all of us want, but not many get.

Focus the holidays on the kids, of course, and let your grief have its time. There will be better days ahead. The initial shock passes, the necessary tasks that must be done after someone dies will take a lot of time and energy. Don't get so enmeshed in the "work" that you lose sight of the holidays and the family that is still here.

Holidays are hard, for me, with "normal" life. The year my daddy died during the holidays was hard. So glad he was out of misery, but so lost and alone. My family carried on like normal, my DH kept trying to get me to get involved in activities with the kids and I just wanted to curl up in a ball and cry. Subsequent holidays were not so bad. I had dealt with losing daddy and I don't equate the holidays with sadness.

DO honor your MIL by talking about her life and legacy. Again, what and honor you were given, to have such love in your life. No one can take that away from you. Time will soften the sharp edges of the pain you feel now.

{{Hugs}}
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Reply to Midkid58
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Grief is not a "Step-by-Step" process as some people think.  It is more like "Hop-Scotch" where you jump from one emotion to another emotion in the blink of an eye.  The holidays are extremely difficult after losing a loved one.  For that reason, many Hospice Agencies offer "Grief Counseling Groups" (that anyone can attend at any time) and many support groups such as "Grief Share" offer special "Surviving The Holidays" group counseling sessions.  I would encourage you to contact local Hospice Agencies or hospitals or grief support groups and see if they might be able to help you cope with the upcoming Holidays.

My Dad died on December 26, 2007 and we had not yet celebrated Christmas, nor Dad & Mom's Anniversary on December 27, 2007, nor Mom's Birthday on December 28, 2007.  Instead, we were planning Dad funeral for December 30, 2007.  It was "easy" to get through the holidays that year as we were busy planning a funeral.  But in 2008, the holidays were difficult as Dad was not there to celebrate his and Mom's 60th Wedding Anniversary. 

This year the holidays will once again be difficult as  Mom died on September 17, 2018.  My brother & SIL will be coming to our house (Mom's & mine) for Thanksgiving.  I haven't figured out what we are going to do for Thanksgiving dinner since I am a lousy cook.  For the week of Christmas/Anniversary/Birthday, I hope to go to my nephew's as he & his wife are expecting a baby the first week of January 2019.  Will it be easy?  No.  Will I cry a lot that week? Definitely. 

No matter what advice or suggestions we give; no matter how much we want to; we cannot take away your pain and sorrow due to the loss of your MIL.  Please know that we are here to support you and your family through this difficult Holiday time.  {{{Hugs}}}
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Reply to DeeAnna
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I am so sorry for your loss and the pain you anticipate in the coming holiday season! Emotions that swing through a wide arc from joy to sadness, sometimes without warning, are very common as we work through grief. Holidays can be a source of stress even without grieving a recent loss. My suggestion is to make sure and reminisce about your MIL and any other family members that are no longer with you. When cooking or decorating lots of memories are sure to surface. Don't keep them bottled up inside. A round of "do you remember when..." can bring both laughter and tears. And it strengthens your connections to the rest of the family. There will surely be much to laugh about even through wistful tears! Sending hugs and prayers your way!!!
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Reply to Longears
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I can completely relate as I feel the same in many aspects. I was extremely close to my mother having lost my dad at age 10 and my step father last September during minor leg surgery. We moved my mother in with us in January when she came under palliative hospice care but since her condition was not well defined, we were only told that she would decline but had no timeline. She responded well to our home and we truly thought we could care for her enough to get well as she was happier and eating better. We had great plans for the summer and I promised her I would take time off of work then as she always pleaded with me just to sit by her always. There were no signs that her time was near and I said goodnight to her at 4am and we found her unresponsive at 6am. She lived a few more days but slept most of that time as they kept her medicated to help with pain due to not being able to swallow from that point. I am beyond devastated and while I thought we would have great peace having cared for her, it is the opposite as now my wife and I both battle thoughts of what we could have done better. Its like a caregivers curse and complete torture. I even have questioned if I didn't raise her head enough or if I would have slept in the chair next to her like I often did and how she always wanted me to, maybe I could have detected what went wrong in those 2 hours. To further complicate things, I am in conflict now with my older siblings who chose not to be here or help with any funeral arrangements, obituary and clearing out her house etc, all things that were emotionally overwhelming to me without their support. After not being here, my brother who I always respected reached out a few months later just to ask if there was any money left from moms home (had a reverse mortgage) so it is painful to understand why they would not be here but ask about money. So I have lost my beautiful mom and my family so please have some peace that you are all there for each other. My wife breaks down sometimes but says she can't share her feelings with me as she knows I am struggling but says she feels so guilty that at the time, she thought caring for mom was hard and tiring but is now guilt ridden for having those emotions as we are more exhausted now than ever when mom was here due to being emotionally drained from sadness and not able to sleep. We miss her so much and I have three young kids who loved her dearly. The room she stayed in (our office) is now sad to pass by so we no longer really use it. I do fear the holidays but I fear each day still as I've lost the person who sacrificed so much and am not sure how to keep moving forward but my wife says I have to for the kids. I am sorry for this long message but apparently needed to share my empathy for your loss and how I can relate. God bless all of you!
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Reply to CarolynsSon
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I like to spend the holidays as my father would have spent them. Happy...smiling...enjoying what I know he would enjoy...as if he were still here....I am honoring his love for all things...and that's how I choose to remember him on the holidays. Try thinking of all the good things about her, and how she would enjoy the holiday should she be still here.
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Reply to Chemoangel1967
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I feel your pain. I know from experience that losing the family matriarch AND/OR patriarch can be devastating. Your whole perspective on life may change. You may have to/want to take over the role she played in the family. Yes, the firsts are the hardest. You may want to keep everything the same — follow family customs and traditions — openly thanking Grandma for handing them down. Or you may want to do something entirely different and create new customs. I kept everything the same until older children had families of their own and started their own traditions. This is the natural course of things.

There are many good books out there. If reading is not your “thing,” there is a short daily message in a book called Healing After Loss — Daily Meditations for Working Through Grief by Martha Whitemore Hickman. I highly recommend it.

I would suggest you get some bereavement counseling. It will help. And, if you are a person of faith, rely on your beliefs for strength and comfort. Where there is prayer, there is hope and where there is hope there is peace. If you are a non-believer, you must rely on your family, friends, professional support or support groups. You will get through this. Give time, time. Good luck.
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Reply to EmilyM
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There is a little book, "It Hurts to Lose a Special Person" by Amy Ross Mumford, that I have found quite helpful. One thing she said was to
make the first Christmas something completely different so you will
not be expecting the same and so crushed because you cannot make it the same. Like meet somewhere completely different, take a family
trip....just don't try to achieve the impossible. Enjoy who is here and
do what you can do.
Your grief is completely normal as far as I can see. I finally decided to
be thankful for the years we had instead of mourning the ones we
do not get.
I pray for each one to experience the comfort of Jesus.
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Reply to marymerry
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Thanks everyone. What triggered all of this is that on Sunday, my SILs family and my MILs brother came over for a BBQ and there was a noticeable void with MIL there. And then Monday my husband’s siblings sent my husband a text talking about thanksgiving and Christmas plans and i just wasn’t prepared for that yet. I’ve been telling myself the first year is the hardest and the holidays will probably be sad for us and we would just take it day by day. I’m glad they are making plans for the holidays but I know when thanksgiving and Christmas are here, it’s going to be very difficult for all of us.
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Reply to worriedinCali
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I too lost my MIL 6 months ago, and my own mother 3 years ago. It has been very difficult.

Grief is like being in the ocean. Waves come unexpectedly, often leaving us crashed upon and gasping for air. Other times, there is an undertow but things are relatively calm. When I am gasping for air, I remind myself that death leaves a heartache no one can heal & Love leaves a memory no one can steal.

Praying for you.
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Reply to inntruth
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worriedinCali Nov 2, 2018
Thank you inntruth. That is a beautiful and accurate analogy of grief. That is exactly how the grief has felt the last few months. Praying for you too <3
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Yes. these feelings are normal. Your grief needs to be expressed, Ways to express your grief are tears, talk, write, doing something that is meaningful in terms of your LO like creating new traditions which honour her. Screaming into a pillow can help. Joining a grief group may help.

Please lower your expectations regarding the holidays. They will be vastly different and you and your family will be hurting Could you build in a special time or event to honour your mil who has been so wonderful for all of you? So,e people buy a candle just for their LO that can be lit on the special occasions you would have shared with LO,

Know that life has changed now -permanently, You will adjust but it will take time and you will miss her aways. Be good to and patient with yourself. ((((((hugs))))))
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Reply to golden23
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worriedinCali Nov 2, 2018
Thank you golden! I have planned to kind of honor/include her on holidays. She always decorated the kitchen—she had a rack on the wall by the table that held 3 decorative plates and she’d put up pumpkin shaped plates for thanksgiving and turkeys for thanksgiving and some matching garland. And she always has a centerpiece for the table. So I have decided to keep her gravesite decorated for each holiday. I put up a few Halloween decorations and tiny pumpkins. Today I will that down and put up some thanksgiving stuff and then do the same in December. There has been some discussion about doing something on her birthday every year But it’s not for another 4 months.
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I think the best way forward is to take the example of love that your MIL showed you and pay it forward to those in your own life. Your children, your husband, your extended family will all benefit if you do so. No doubt, you will too. I think that is the best any of us can do when we lose someone who was as gracious as you described your MIL. Sorry for your loss.
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Reply to GingerMay
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worriedinCali Nov 2, 2018
Thank you ginger. I love the idea of paying it forward. She always helped those who needed it. What a wonderful to honor her.
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I’m sorry this grief is catching you at unexpected times. We realize how special that person was to the family after they are gone.
Rest assures MIL is at peace now. And you have so many fond memories of her. Talk it through with your family and let them express their grief with you.
You took very good care of your MIL and should be proud for what you gave to her at the end.
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Reply to Shane1124
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worriedinCali Nov 2, 2018
Thank you Shane. That is so very true. And exactly what happened. I feel like I took her for granted and didn’t show her enough how appreciated she was & what she meant to our family. My BILs wife and I had our disagreements with her over the years-much like most MILs and DILs. I just wish we had had this last year we thought we had, to show her she was appreciated. In very little time we went from being told she had a year left to being told she had 3 months. We planned to make this a great year, treat her like a queen. Spend more time with her. But time wasn’t on her side. Any thank you for your support.
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I’m sorry for your pain and loss. I think your MIL taught you all those lessons for a reason. None of our relatives who loved us would want us to be paralyzed by grief and dread moving forward. She’d want you to take what you learned from her and use it in your life, your holidays, teaching your children, and pass it on. I still have ongoing pain and the seeming never ending sense of loss from my mom dying, but I focus on what I learned from her, the good things she wanted me to do in life, and teach my children. My children were denied a life with her, it’s my job now to make sure they know her values and lessons. I hope you can see your way forward to honor your beloved MIL by doing what she’d so want for you
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Reply to Daughterof1930
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worriedinCali Nov 2, 2018
Thank you daughter & i’m very sorry for your loss. I’ll take your words to heart-you are so right. She would not want us paralyzed with grief and she taught us many things and we can use those things in our lives & pass them on to our children.
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Dear Worried,

I'm sorry about the loss of your MIL. Is your husband doing OK?

Don't worry about the holidays right now. Deal with today. Try not to project and worry about what things will be like over a month from now. Take care of what you need to do today. Don't borrow grief from next month.

Maybe you can start a new tradition where everyone comes to your house. The preparation and planning would be good for you. Think it over.

But for now, stay in today. Deal with just today.
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Reply to Eyerishlass
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