Faith, Family, Grief

Summer Holidays Without Him

One of the hardest things for me when Heath went to heaven was…

How do we approach the holidays without him? How do we celebrate these events now that he is no longer active in our lives?

While the winter holidays are by far the hardest to handle, the summer holidays bring about their own challenges.

Holidays are built around our close family & friends. We plan our meals according to the likes and wants of our family members. Activities are created to suit the culture of those that will attend our celebrations. Time is spent on those days enjoying the presence of each person there.

So, when you hear that holidays are hard for families that have lost a loved one, it’s such a massive understatement.

Although, our life looks somewhat the same on the outside (same house, same vehicles, etc.), everything has changed! Not one thing in our lives has been spared from the effects of his absence.

During our first year without Heath, it seemed as though each holiday brought about a new challenge or realization that life would NEVER again be the same.

We miss him terribly and all the FUN he brought to our lives!

What we have always done is not necessarily doable anymore. Everything from the types of foods we ate (mostly BBQ) to the activities we always enjoyed, it all has to be adjusted.

In my grief and newly navigating life alone, I couldn’t anticipate all the things that would be touched. I had no idea of the many things that would now require my attention. 

Often, I would think to myself,  “ok, this is going to be alright” and then something would present itself that I didn’t expect…something that Heath would have taken care of without a word to me. Things that never even entered into the realm of what I needed to handle because he did.

By the Grace of God, the Lord has surrounded us with family & friends that have helped to make those transitions easier. Now, as we are in our second year of holidays, I am a little stronger and better able to see those same challenges.

We are still trying to manage life without him; still trying to find our way & trusting Jesus to establish those steps in faith toward Him. 

With Father’s Day (a whole other can of worms) and  4th of July coming up, I feel a prick in my heart to anticipate these summer days of celebration and make something new of them, while still honoring Heath & the traditions we started so many years ago for our family.

Holidays are a chance to reconnect with our loved ones; an opportunity to make memories and invest in the people that have been entrusted to us.  Also, they provide us with a moment to reflect on the many blessings we have received; to be thankful for the faithfulness of God throughout the years.

So today, I’m sharing three things with you that have been on my heart.  This is how I am intentionally preparing myself for our second year of holidays without him. Hopefully, it encourages you as well and helps you to find new life in your summer holiday celebrations.

Open Your Heart to the Change 

Oh man! Can we just stop and take a breather on that one right there?

No one really likes change and when you are talking about family traditions, its even more difficult.

Traditions are roots. They bind our families and hearts together. When you have lost someone, especially a spouse, you not only grieve the person but the life you had together and the plans you made.

In that grieving, it so easy to get lost and harden your heart towards new things. Often, I have felt as if I lost more and more of Heath as different things fell to the background of our lives. Talk about excruciating!

I am realizing now, after some time has passed, I can open my heart to the change. I can embrace it and be excited about the new.

That doesn’t, for one second, mean that I have stopped grieving Heath. It just means that I am choosing to live life anew in spite of what has happened.   With that choice comes a whole lot of looking to the Lord and leaning on His mercies and grace to help me.

 

Take Inventory of What Is Doable & What is NOT

When I look back on our holiday celebrations, Heath took charge. He was just the kind of wonderful person who took care of everything.

He planned. He cooked. He entertained. He did it all while the kids and I helped.

Now that all of those things fall on me to carry, I have to consider what I am capable of doing as a single parent and what I am not.

Certainly, there is pain in this process.

Letting go is so very hard.

Sifting through what our family would have been doing and how we would have celebrated these days together incites a ton of emotions that are not easy to feel. Even as I write this tears burn in my eyes.

Yet, I have found that in doing the hard things there is a bit (an ever-so-tiny bit) of healing on the other side.

While our traditions may change some, I want to keep those things that remind us of Heath while embracing new ideas that bring life back to me and my kids.

As I take inventory of what I can manage, I have to consider some things:

  • FoodWhat kind of food will we have at this celebration?

For us barbecuing was a weekly, if not nightly, event but I am not the grill master that Heath was. So, I might consider buying some BBQ instead of smoking it myself or choose another form of preparing the BBQ that I’m familiar with such as using the crock pot or the oven.

Check out BBQ Ideas here.

  • Finances Can I afford to do what we have always done?

Chances are no but I can look at ways to keep the theme. For example, rather than paying to camp somewhere,  we can plan a backyard campout. Also, we could substitute grilling some hotdogs on an open fire for more expensive cuts of meat.  (BAR S hotdogs can be found for 88 cents a pack during grilling season and its super fun for the kids!)

Grab your FREE MENU PLANNER here. A little bit of planning can go a long way to save money.

Let's Celebrate! Menu Planner

  • FunWhat are we going to do during this celebration?

Some activities are just not manageable without my husband. So, I have to mark those off the list and explore other things to fill their spot.

Maybe I can investigate what games we already have stuffed in the attic or garage. Pull them out, dust them off & enjoy! Or create inexpensive games out of supplies we already have at home. Need some ideas?

There’s a Pinterest Board for that!

Still, after all that sorting, sifting, and taking inventory of our previous traditions, I need to explore new ideas which brings us to number three.

Explore & Implement New Ways of Celebrating the Holidays

This is where I get the kids involved!

My kiddos LOVE to plan and decorate for events. They are ALL OVER birthday season around our house. Yes, we have a season. LOL!

The three of them decorate, plan activities, and bake cakes…the whole nine yards. Each one is so considerate of the likes and dislikes of the birthday person.

Exploring new ideas of celebrating? That is totally right up their alley! Smiles spread across faces, eyes sparkle, and you can see the ideas spinning in those fantastic brains.

Oh, how that makes my heart skip a beat!

That is a glimpse of A LIFE and A FUTURE…not one filled with grief but one that will also be filled with EXCITEMENT & ADVENTURE in spite of our loss.

Life will NEVER be the same but as our pastor says…It can still be good.

I wish for you lots of joy, fun, & wonderful memory making this summer as you celebrate with those you love!

Happy Summer Holidays!

Share with me how you are spending your summer holidays this year by commenting below or connect with me on FACEBOOK!
Behold, I am doing a new thing. Now, its springs forth, do you not perceive it? Isaiah 43:19

I can't wait to hear your thoughts. Comment below.