The holidays are over, it's January, and it's cold

(at least in Minnesota)

So, how did everyone do over the holidays? Did you learn anything that might be helpful for those having to face a future holiday? Did any of the sage advice that was given out in this blog turn out to be hogwash (at least for you)?

While it's still fresh in your mind, I would appreciate you sharing your thoughts, successes, and disappointments.

While you're at it, how are you coping with the post-holiday crash? Relieved? Sad? If you live in a place like Minnesota, winter can be a beautiful time to enjoy the snow and cold. But because of the length of the season in a place like this, it can also feel daunting to know that it will be several months before you can easily enjoy the outdoors and longer days. Let us know how you are doing and if you have any plans to make this time as positive as possible.


  1. Tim,

    As a mother to an angel, I always love reading your posts, as they are real and honest. Thank you for continuing to help heal the hearts of others through keeping up this blog.

    The holidays for me were tough and I am glad they are over. But, on a much brighter note, I ave great FAITH in what the new year has to bring and work to set goals for myself as a way of emerging from the grief. I remind myself that being positive is KEY! And, the best way to help heal a hurting heart is to help another to heal in their time of need. Do unto others :)

    many thanks,

  2. Hi Tim.

    I hope its ok that I write to you even if Im not a man ?
    I was happy to find your blog as I try to understand how men deal with a loss. I admire your initiative to speak about this .
    I know that not all men are the same but you have met different men through your workshops and have experience in this.

    I would like to ask for advice as me and my husband have different ways of greiving and it makes us drift apart.
    We lost our first baby due to miscarríage in May this year and three months later my father passed away ( he suffered from cancer )
    I need to talk about it and need him to share his thoughts and feelings but he wants to avoid it and doesnt talk about it spontanously and if I push him I dont get so much more from it either, other than he says that he is sad too its not only me ...
    It leaves me with a feeling that my feelings are not valid , that I should get over it ASAP yet I cant do that as I need time to get over this.
    Its a shock for me to realize that the man I live with is not sharing his feelings and thoughts as we face such a hard time in our lifes, its very frustrating and it affects our relationship as I feel so lonely and Im slowly giving up trying to communicate with him , as I cant find the key to change it .
    I dont know what to do .Its hard for me to accept that this is the way he is as I would like our communication to be better .
    What do you think I should do ?
    I know he is trying as he brought me a flower and a gift remembering our angel baby on the 16 th of dec which was the estimated delivery date.That gave me some reassurance that he cares but I still feel uncomfortable when he doesnt talk about his feelings.
    December was a very difficult month for me as that was the month when our baby should have been born.It was a struggle to keep going and getting ready for Christmas .
    Im happy 2009 is over an look forward to the new year and hope for the best .
    Thank you for a good , relevant blog.



    Hi Angie,

    Of course you are welcome to write here. Not only do I hope this will be a place where men can express themselves and read other's thoughts, but where women can learn to better understand how men process their grief.

    I can only imagine how difficult this December must have been for you with it not only being the time your baby was due, but then facing the holidays feeling like your communication with your spouse is not as good as you would hope. I would imagine that there are others out there that can at least relate to what you are going through and have stories to share about their own frustrations and struggles.

    I know that we men are an interesting breed and not the easiest folks in the world to understand. I believe a lot of that is just part of who we are, and a lot of it is what we learn over a lifetime of feeling like we are expected to be strong. That phrase, "big boys don't cry" can come back and haunt us as we experience life’s challenges. We hear it from little on and each of us interprets what it means to us. You combine that with things like our training in sports activities where we are taught to "control the ball," "control the puck," and "never let your emotions get in the way of the ultimate goal," and it often results with some men having a hard time expressing themselves at a time when EVERYTHING seems out of control. When Kathleen died (my daughter) I was in my late 20s. It was my first slap across the face about how life works, and it made me realize no matter how hard I worked or how focused I was, bad things can and do happen. It was not a quick process for me to learn the value of that knowledge and some of the positive things that can result from that realization.

    You are correct that not all men are alike, but there are certainly some common threads to how a lot of us deal with stress and loss in our lives. While I can read what you wrote and feel bad that you are struggling, I can also completely relate to how you say your husband is responding. In other words, I didn't start this blog because I did everything right at the time of our loss.

    But I guess that raises the question, what is right? What is right for one person may be totally wrong for another. Often what is instinctual for a woman is foreign to a man, and vice versa. So the real question becomes -- even when you acknowledge those differences -- how do you get through a difficult time and remain a couple?

  4. I think the key word is "compromise". Often we try and convince our partner that the way we are looking at things is the correct way, and their way is not so good. In case you haven't tried that, take it from me, it doesn't work. I recall thinking that if I could just "teach" Monica (my wife) how to grieve my way, that we would be fine. When she seemed to be a slow learner, I became very defensive and worried that possibly MY way was the wrong way. Neither of those assumptions was correct and both can be very damaging in their own way.

    But if you can get to a point where you can compromise -- not necessarily in how you feel, but in how you respond to your differences -- I think you will see the tide turn. In the book I wrote with Sherokee Ilse, "Couple Communication After A Baby Dies -- Differing Perspectives," we spend a lot of time talking about how the desire to "fix" someone is most often fruitless. But if you can agree that your relationship is worth fighting for, you can learn to support your partner without necessarily understanding them. For example, let your husband know that while you wish he could maybe share more, you won’t push him to do that. BUT, you would like him to agree to just sit with you periodically and let you talk about how you are feeling. PLEASE do not assume that his silence means that he doesn’t care. He simply might not be able to put into words how he feels. Instead, focus on his gestures, like bringing home a flower, and let him know how wonderful that made you feel. Seek out a friend, family member, or professional who you can more easily talk to about your feelings. That does not mean you have a bad marriage, it just means you have someone else you can talk to about all this. Encourage your husband to do the same (but don’t push), and try not to be threatened that he can talk with someone else more easily than he can you. I just don’t think that is all that uncommon.

    Finally, focus on why you fell in love with him. More than likely he wasn’t a “chatty” guy back then, so why would you think he would be now? He was likely, however, a sensitive guy like the one who brought you that flower … and he still is that sensitive guy who obviously loves you very much.

    Good luck, and do stay in touch.

  5. Hi Tim. I am new to your site but wanted to say thank you for your writing. I have been reading through many of your posts and just sit here nodding my head to so much of what you and the other dads who write in say. My 14 month old daughter had a heart defect and died in my wifes arms at our home 8 months ago but it feels like it could be yesterday.It is nice to be able to read someones writing who knows how it feels. Thanks for your writing. tells the whole story and tells about something we are trying to do in her memory.

    Take Care

    Matt wallace

  6. Hi Tim .

    Thank you so much for your sincere and wise answer .
    I like what you say, actually I have tears in my eyes reading it, partly because I like your answer and partly because of the beauty in finding someone who cares and who understands .
    I have experienced a lot of pain the last year but I have also found unexpected friendship .
    I have received a lot of help and care from
    people that I have never met in reality but that I have communicated with through the internet like I have found you that want to reach out and help and some friends that I have met through a forum for people who cope with miscarraige.
    Its magical to find that there is good and friendly people out there that care .
    It makes my broken heart feel better.
    I need to think about what you have said and re-read it .
    I will also look for your book.
    Thank you very much ! Angie

  7. Thanks, Matt and Angie, for writing. It makes all this worthwhile knowing that you are able to find something helpful as you read what people write. I encourage you to let yourselves feel the sadness and process it, but hang on to the knowledge that things will feel better in time and with some hard work. When you get to a point where you can reach out to others who are struggling, you truly begin to see the wonderful gifts the lives of our children brought. Hang in there and don't hesitate to come here and share any time.

  8. Thanks for the post. The holidays were rough (our first) but we made it. There's this conflict of how my wife and I felt (melancholy, contemplative) and other people in the family who wanted to kick into holiday mode and simply be happy with family around them.

    It's maddening to think there will always be that tension of sadness/missing with the happiness of others all around.

    When we finally made it back to the cemetery (where we are regulars) I broke down a bit because I couldn't believe she was gone (all over again!) and I felt guilt for the comfort of the holidays with others. I know it's irational, but I felt it nevertheless. Your words are very encouraging (that we will feel better in time), I hope the time of pain will start to melt away.

  9. Thanks for the note -- everything you say brings back so many memories of my first Christmas after Kathleen died. Like I said earlier, no one could have convinced me at the time that I would ever feel better or be able to completely enjoy the holidays again. It's amazing what healing, hard work, and the desire to live fully can do to help bring back perspective.

    In the meantime, let the tears come when they need to and do remind yourself that laughter and comfort from those who love you are exactly what your daughter would want for you. There is no better way to honor her memory than to let yourself feel all those emotions.

  10. Tim:

    I really do appreciate your effort. As a matter of fact, it is one of several blogs that I have come across in the past several months that have motivated me to share my journals online.

    Nevertheless, I find the holidays difficult. Obviously, I am without my son, Austin. Yet, they are particularly diffcult for my wife and I not only in the sense that we are without him during times when we are generating our own memories.

    He was and will always be the brother to his two sisters, the big brother of his two sisters. Triplets. Yet, he passed on January 19, 2008, twelve days before he and his sisters were born on January 31, 2008.

    The holidays always seem to be the last bastion before I drift aimlessly towards January 19th. I find them a distraction from dwelling too much on him.

    The joy that they bring is the equal and opposite reaction to the pain ....after the New Year, I have nothing but a countdown to the 19th.

  11. Thanks Jonathan,

    While the holidays have gotten much easier over the years, I still get a pit in my stomach as Kathleen's birthday approaches in Septmber. My wife often finds herself feeling really down that time of year, and it took her awhile to really put her finger on the root cause.

    I guess the difference for me as time has passed is that the sadness is not as intense nor does it last as long -- but you are right, there will always be an emptiness. When you think about it, that only makes sense, since we are missing a part of us that can never be replaced. While it doesn't stop me from living, that emptiness also reminds me how much I love her, even though it's been 26 years since I held her in my arms.

    Hang in there, I'll be thinking of you next week.

  12. The holidays can be a difficult time when you have recently lost a beloved child. It is so hard to see all the people around you celebrating and you may not be feeling that way. We all made it through the holidays though, and we got through it together.

  13. Andrea -- I'm glad you were able to keep moving forward, as difficult as that sometimes can be. Hopefully with the support of family, friends, and the larger community, the journey can be a little less overwhelming. Good luck.