Thursday, October 21, 2010

Surviving Halloween and the holidays when grieving!

Yesterday, while driving home from Dempsey’s school, a little voice from the back seat screamed, “Look Mommy!”

It appears as if overnight, the houses in our neighborhood have been transformed into grave yards for Halloween. “Please can we take a look Mommy, PLEASE!” Dempsey begged. We took a small detour and I was amazed at what I saw. (note; We don’t celebrate Halloween in Australia).

Front yards have had extreme makeovers, looking more like something from the ‘Twilight’ movie than suburban dwellings. Lawns have been blanketed with creepy grey headstones, skeletons are hanging from garage doors and fake spider webs float in the breeze. Dempsey loved it!

      One of the houses in our neighboorhood, decorated for Halloween

I know it’s all make-believe stuff, however, it does make me wonder how people who are in the thick of their grief must feel when they drive past these haunted houses?

I’m sure it must rattle them as it did me, as it’s a reminder of death. I’m curious if they have to hide their shadow of sadness or if they can see it for what it is? Just a holiday…to some….an excuse to dress up and suffer from another case of a sick stomach from eating too much gooey candy.

As a grieving person, you really are a sitting duck during the holidays. You have to tackle reminders and emotions that you have no choice but to deal with. Things like those headstones and families in high spirits when you might feel down in the dumps……along with memories of past joyful occasions. These threaten to destabilize you and lure you back into a depressed frame of mind. It’s a hard time of year. And it’s normal to feel sad.

Holidays can be tough, you can’t just tick a box, ‘choose’ option number one “Be Happy!” Sometimes the multiple choices can be limited on special days.

I remember Savannah’s first and only Halloween. She only got to enjoy one during her time with us in America. Her nurse Marlene happily provided her with a witches black cloak, a massive hat and straw broom. Demspey was only a baby, but we squeezed her into the cutest orange giraffe outfit.

      Our Angel Savannah dressed as a witch

Savannah was so sick, in the terminal stages of her disease, but I still remember the gracious smile on her face as we carefully dressed her frail body in the costume. She was grateful to be just like one of the other kids that knocked on our door that night. I have that one memory…..and I find now memories can bring you comfort at this time of year. Sometimes, that’s all we have……….

The temptation is there, to give in and wallow, and sometimes it can’t be helped. But if you’re ready for it, for the emotions, you can try to embrace the day, or whatever comes with it and not be afraid….

I can try to shift my thoughts, into positive ones, and hope I will get an injection of appreciation, inspiration and smiles through the sparkle in my eight year old daughters green eyes. And not wonder what my missing child would’ve chosen as her Halloween outfit.

So on the 31st, I’ll actually look at the headstones in the yards as reminders to celebrate that I am alive…..and so is Dempsey. That we get to carve a design on a bright orange pumpkin, scoop out the sweet sticky seeds and focus on the happy smiling faces that will be parading down our street in different attire.

    Dempsey looking like the pumpkin at Halloween a few years ago :)

I think I’ll decorate our front door with flowers instead of skeletons… hope of welcoming some familiar spirits into our house instead of scaring them away. Maybe my Mom or my Sister or Savannah will be around, watching to see I’m surviving and living life the way they would want to if they were here.

I’ll raid Dempsey’s plastic pumpkin head that will be full of treats and eat too much chocolate to make me feel good!

This year I won’t wear a costume, I think I’ll just scare everyone and just ‘be me.’ Happy, sad, glad or wherever the mood takes me……holidays can be like that!

     Peter as the Joker, me as Catwoman and Demps as Little Bo Peep at a Halloween party last year....I think there is a clear ORB near Dempsey's heart and I think it was Savannah's spirit captured on film, wishing she was dressed up with us as a family!



  1. Hi Diana!

    I always look forward to your posts. They really inspire me. I lost my mom back in May and I am 19 years old, so I know the holidays will be a difficult time.

    Thanks so much for the inspiration:-) I hope to find your strength and perseverance!


  2. Dear Elizabeth,
    I think of you sometimes and wonder how you are doing. This time of year is so hard. Every Christmas etc is hard but I think the first one is terribly difficult as its the first time without your mom.

    I truly feel for you and hope you can find some strength in your moms courage. I know my mom if she was still alive would want more than anything for me to be happy and to love life as she did. So I try to be inspired by her attitude still, even though she isn't here....I can hear her saying how proud she would be of me. Thats what keeps me going on some tough days, but its still sad and not fair.

    I am sending a warm hug in this message, thank YOU Elizabeth, it's people like you who let me know I'm helping them that continue to inspire me to keep writing.
    Please email anytime.
    With love
    Diana x

  3. I meant to add too that this article was posted on where there are some articles that might help you to know you aren't alone.
    D x

  4. Diana,

    Thanks SO much for the response. I really appreciate that you take the time to reach out to the readers. You are very talented and gracious! Sometimes, when I am feeling really sad, it definitely helps to read some of your previous messages and to know I'm not alone.

    This year, I am taking a year off of college and I am living in Madrid Spain. My friend was already planning on taking a gap year. After my mom passed away, I couldn't see myself going back to school right away. So, I am currently teaching English in Madrid, Spain right now. My friend, Jenna, and I are going to go backpacking after our time ends here in Spain. So, I will be celebrating Christmas with just my friend. So, these holidays will be interesting.

    My family is very small and not very close-knit, so I am happy to be out of the country for the holidays. Although, I know it will still be very hard.

    My mom was always very courageous and wonderful. So, I also try to remember what she would want for me...but it's still incredibly hard considering she only passed away 5 months ago. I still don't know if all of the shock has worn off.

    I know it's always going to be difficult, but I am hopeful than one day, I will feel a warmth when I think of my mom and not sadness.

    By the way, I love the way you find Heavenly messages out of seemingly small things. I think I try too hard to find a sign from Heaven...I think I'm still struggling spiritually as well after the loss of my mom. She had a really strong faith, so I am working towards strengthening my own faith.

    Wow, I've written a lot..But seriously. Thanks so much!

    Elizabeth :-)

    P.S. I've been meaning to check out Thanks for the reminder!

  5. Dear Elizabeth,

    You are already brave by choosing 'life' as your mom would want, by packing up and moving to, that in itself is amazing. I think sometimes a change of scenery and having to direct your energy and thoughts into something completely new helps in the grieving process. I know that to be the case with me. Your mom would be so proud of you!

    Be gentle with yourself Elizabth, your grief and loss is so fresh, at the moment its normal and healthy to cry to heal. I still cry over my mom not being here...I miss her so much and wish on some days for a phone line to heaven. On those days I do things to make me feel good and get through the day...the next day is usually a bit better.

    Your mom will always be part of your heart and you carry her with you always. I'm sure she has sent you a message already...look for the little things like songs, butterflies, pennies and feathers....and when something happens, don't just think its a coincidence...there's no such thing! :)

    Sending love to you and I'll keep you in my thoughts, it really is a hard time of year.

    love Diana x
    btw, you can write a comment as long as you want, you've helped me today :)x

  6. Diana!

    You have also helped me today. :-)

    Thanks for the support and kind words! Some people thought I was crazy when I chose to travel to Europe, but I know that this is good for me. The fresh perspective is nice, and being here gives me hope.

    I'm sending love right back to you! Your mom would also be so proud of you! :-)




  7. Thank you Elizabeth! You have a great week over there! Hola!
    Diana x