• Christmas Dinner Table

    The first few years after someone in the family has died or were killed, the 'elephant in the room' effect can wreak havoc on an otherwise comforting occasion. 

    The uncomfortable, uneasy almost walking on eggshells feeling of not knowing what to say, what not to say, and how to handle those grieving can be quite stressful as you don't want to offend or do anything to cause further harm to them emotionally.

    Yet the most important thing you can do is simply communicate and be honest. 

    If you are going to your grandmother's for dinner and your grandfather passed on during the year, it's important that you acknowledge this and not act like it never happened. 

    When you arrive, simply tell her you would really like to talk about grandpa openly at dinner and share some of the great memories you had with him and, hopefully, others will take your lead.

    You might think your grandmother wouldn't want to do this, but chances are great that she will be relieved to have you bring this up as she too can feel the underlying uneasiness that certain family members might feel about this.

    When family members and friends take the lead and ask permission of the host/hostess to do this, it opens up a wonderful conversation and frees everyone to just enjoy the day and even if, while sharing your memories around the table you begin to cry or feel quite emotional, it's perfectly ok.

    We are not stone; we feel, we grieve, we are in pain.  But that isn't a reason for stifling our feelings and ignoring the great love we had for that person and how much we miss them.

    Another way to honor them is to write hand notes and cards and place them in Grandpa's stocking.  How wonderful it will be for your grandmother to read them another evening. 

    Also remember that when a person is grieving, their senses are more fragile so it is best to remind the younger folks in your family to try their best to make less noise, less running around as too much confusion and commotion can be overwhelming for them.

    If you see a family member has moved into another room for quiet time, you will know it's because they need to separate themselves for a while. 

    Another lovely memory to make is writing hand notes and attaching them to balloons.  Help the children to make their own special art or message.  Later you can let them all fly into the heavens together.

    Even though Christmas after a loved one's death can be especially painful, being open and honest and sharing wonderful memories will bring a much needed closeness during this season.