I had posted on my facebook page that the holidays are hard when you’ve lost a loved one. I find myself trying to avoid all holidays. This Christmas has been no exception. But avoiding hasn’t worked out too well for me. It hasn’t worked at all. As I say in my book, “It’s like trying to hide from God.” So, after two years of trying, I’m adopting a whole new approach. Instead of trying to run away, I’m going to think of something different to do for each holiday. You know, shake it up a bit!
A friend of mine challenged me to do a Christmas tree this year. I really didn’t want to, but then I got an idea – I’ll do one Greek-style. As you can see above, I decorated olive branches and hung them above my dining room table. And it looks really beautiful. Of course the Olive tree symbolizes peace and prosperity. And how bad can that be sitting over your dining room table?
By the way, I just spent an incredible week in Greece, and while I’d like to tell you more about it, for now, let me just say –
T H E A C R O P O L I S I S T O T A L L Y W O R T H I T !
It was so much more than I thought it was going to be. No way you can capture its awe-inspiring grandeur in a single photo. And, Ah! The legend is that the goddess Athena (whose temple I’m standing in front of in the photo below) created the olive tree as a gift to the city that would be named after her – Athens.
PEACE, & MERRY CHRISTMAS, L
Pam Cook says
Very creative. I love your approach to Christmas. I too have a hard time celebrating Christmas since losing my mom. I’m happy to see you finding ways to move forward through creativity, which not only helps to learn new things but things about yourself you never knew before. Thank you for your inspiration.. Merry Christmas:) Pam
You know, sometimes you are force to find solutions. And sometimes they work, and sometimes they don’t. Everyone I know that has lost someone special finds that the holidays are hard. We just find a way to get through them – good, or bad. Sorry about you losing your mom.
Kathy Aunkst says
I hope you’re having a nice Christmas, Lisa. I love reading your blog entries!! There’s a lot of us out here that love hearing (reading) what you have to say! Keep smilin’! 🙂
That’s really nice to hear. Thanks for that!
Lisa, i hope you are ok. Your greek Christmas is amazing.Stay strong.
I’m hanging in there, and doing my best.
My Greek Christmas tree did turn out nicely. Of course I didn’t have time to take it down before I left for NY, so I’ll have dry, Greek Christmas leaves all over my table when I get home.
Ah, it’s a small price to pay. I’m glad I made the effort to put it up.
Marie AuBuchon says
How fun and neat! When my kids were growing up, one night a week, we had “International Night”. We’d make an entire dinner of traditional foods from the country we had chosen for that week. It made for some fun and interesting meals!
On the subject of unusual Christmas’, I spent mine in a Freightliner (which for the uninitiated is an 18-wheeler…I’m a lady truck driver.) I was actually trying to get home for the holidays but just missed it when I ran out of hours I could legally drive. Such is trucking….
Hope you had a great Christmas Lisa! It’s so wonderful to see you smile again!
Spending Christmas in a Freightliner does sound unusual and very exotic! Although you probably didn’t see it that way. But let’s keep it on the list of possible/different places to spend a holiday (of course with a choice of where it’s parked).
ps. I cooked a Finnish meal one Christmas for my family.
pps. Finnish food is pretty bland.
Patricia Baird says
I love what you are doing. Love your Olive brances on the light.
It’s been 22 years since I lost my only daughter,Christmans was her
favorite time, so I decorate more for her than me, but over the years
I have gotten to where it’s something I WANT to do for my self. Taken
a long time but I love it. God Bless you & be with you. Can’t wait for
your book to come out. OBTW, I love,’One Lasr Dance’.
I heard of a man that has a hard time during Christmas, but still puts up a tree for the son that he lost 17 years ago. How nice to hear from you that Christmas can become a happy time again.
How are you?
I think Athens, like all the cities that have a beautiful story beside, is a magical and beautiful city.
It’s nice to try to be creative and, above all, try to do something nice for themselves, hoping to get better.
I’m asking… Where do found all your strength? You are a rock.
I admire you! <3
I try to find my strenght, insinde myself, but it's no easy. Noway!
I go in depression so easily. But this time I wanna try. After the next delusion………. I wanna try.
I hope you enjoy your holiday in Greece and, your Christmas tree is nice.
This year, we change something in the menù tradition. And it's go!
Thanks for this blog's page.
You know what? I don’t feel strong. Sometimes I feel like a wilted piece of wet grass. But everyday when I get up, I do what I can that day. Sometimes it’s a lot, and sometimes it’s not very much. And as bad as the last two years have been for me – look – somehow I managed to write a book.
It’s the little steps – every day.
Hi Lisa, original decorative but, I like, I will think of next year. In making it I think of you. Take care of yourself.
Happy Holidays, Corine!
Lisa I am so glad that you did a little Christmas this year. My Mom passed away 1 year ago this November and Christmas was one of her favorite times. She loved watching the grandkids open their presents. I know it is hard for you without Patrick but I am sure he is looking down on you. As a great fan of his I can’t watch is movies anymore. I just turn the channel if one comes on. May God be with you and give you peace and happiness throughout the years.
Thank you for sharing that. It’s amazing how well loved he is. He was a very special person. Hopefully in the future, seeing his movies will bring you joy again.
Lindsay Luckadoo says
Great idea, Lisa! Your olive branch looks beautiful! Wishing you an abundance of peace and prosperity through the coming years! 🙂
Same to you, Lindsay Luckadoo!
Lindsay Luckadoo says
Thank you! 🙂
Lesage Corinne says
j was above all a fan of “Patrick” j but when I discovered “One last dance “!!!! ho !!!!! first the faith that I saw?? chills hands full! the 2nd time?? j I cried …. this film is beautiful it made me feel how you love both the dance and how much you love your actions !!!!! regards.Quelle your passion! ! since that day I wondered how you get a pass this test and now ho made gift you share your anxieties your daily steps towards your little “I am better” you could give us the most wonderful Christmas present! here we now in contact with you and ….. c is fantastic to be able to keep that bind us together we the fans a “Patrick”. Your tree is beautiful box it marked the beginning of a reconstruction and not oubiez n “dear Lisa “that the French fans you through this terrible ordeal that is the mourning of a cher.Et be that we are eager to read your book and hope the publication in Français.Chaques day we find ourselves on a FB page and share our impressions discoveries and our tribute video montages Patrick know that one day we will see us move a little hello?? good to you Lisa you are a model for us. pLEASE excuse the errors of my English translation is not n I used the top of a translator.
I’m so glad you liked One Last Dance! And I think I’ve seen your beautiful tribute montage for Patrick. Thank you for how much you care. It is very much appreciated.
I don’t know how you do it,I lost my Husband of 31 years in Aug. of last year ,found out in July he had brain cancer and ,then he was gone,and then to top it off my mom had a massive heart attack in June of this year and was gone in a blink of eye. the two people that held me together just gone. I,m finding it harder and harder to keep going.I have 3 grandkids and they were helping,but then the 2 that lived with me and my daughter ,well lets just say the kids are now living with there dads and had to kick my daughter out .Not really sure how much one person can take within a year. Hoping your book can bring me some kind comfort that things can get better,cause right now ,it’s hard to drag myself out of bed. what do you do when the only man you have ever know sence you were 17 is gone. still looking for that answer. Christmas didn’t happen for me this year.just didn’t feel right.
Hola Julia, no hablo inglés pero leo el blog a través del traductor google. Perdía a mi mamá de la misma manera que sted, a pesar de que ella estaba enferma de cáncer y aparentemente mejoraba. De golpe se fue a tomar una siesta y ya no despertó. Había estado hablando conmigo media hora antes. Su pérdida el mayor dolor de mi vida.
I know. Enduring this pain is harder than anyone, or you, imagined, right? And be kind to yourself, all this is still very, very fresh for you. A year and four months is hardly any time at all with loss that has come your way! Reach out to a grief group. Talking to others can help you know that you’re not going crazy. Hang in there! L
you are one tough lady and a source of inspiration!
Christmas is especially difficult to handle when you’ve lost a loved one.
13 years ago we lost our dad to cancer of the colon and did not celebrate Christmas at all for a few years, we just didn’t feel up to it without him.
I admire the way you and Patrick battled his disease- I was myself diagnosed with a very rare kind of cancer three years ago and had a hard time not yielding to despair.
Thank you so much for sharing your experience and creating awareness!
My thoughts are with you, Annette. It’s not easy to keep a good attitude when faced with cancer. Everyone chooses how to fight – against a disease, or in handling loss. We do the very best we can.
I’m wishing you courage, strength, and wisdom.
Hola Lisa, te escribo desde Argentina, no hablo inglés pero espero puedas entender la idea general de lo que te digo a través del traductor de google. El 15 de octubre de este año mi mamá se sintió cansada y decidió tomar una siesta, mientras tanto yo hacía los quehaceres de la casa y entraba en si habitación a cada rato para ver si estaba mejor. La última vez que entré le pregunté si quería ir al hospital y me dijo que no , que quería dormir un rato y que saliera de la habitación. Entré a la media hora para ver cómo seguía y ya no pude despertarla. Tuvo un paro cardiorrespiratorio. Estuvimos conversando hasta último momento, ninguna de las dos se imaginó lo que podía suceder. Siento una terrible culpa por no haberla obligado a ir al hospital en ese momento, quizás la hubiese podido salvar. Mi frustración radica en que hace dos años fue operada de cáncer de mama, siempre estuve con ella, en casa, en el hospital, en las sesiones de quimioterapia y de rayos. Últimamente no quería que nadie la acompañara al doctor, quería manejarlo sola, se enojaba mucho cuando sugeríamos acompañarla. Tenía un carácter fuerte, era difícil imponerse a ella, igualmente siento culpa. Daría mi vida por poder abrazarla aunque sea 5 minutos. Tengo 37 años y el hecho de pesar que puedo vivir otros tantos sin ella me da terror. Temo olvidar su voz, sus gestos, las cosas que me decía. Hay muchas cosas que no viví y esperaba que ella las viviera conmigo, como casarme, formar una familia, estabilizarme en un empleo. Cosas que la hubieses hecho feliz. Todas las noches pido que esto sea una pesadilla y al despertarme me siento morir. Es como si me hubiesen arrancado el alma. Estoy muy angustiada y no encuentro consuelo en nada.
e fue operada de cáncer de mama en el 2007
I know what you are talking about when your fear of a future without your mother. When we love someone so much, and they love us, we feel protected by them. And we feel like we’re out in the cold when we lose them.
You mention that you blame yourself for not insisting on taking your mother to the hospital. Blaming yourself is a normal reaction. I went through some of the same agonizing thoughts after I lost Patrick. But ultimately, and unfortunately, it’s not up to us whether our loved ones die, or not. Otherwise, we could keep them with us forever.
Ante todo mil gracias Lisa por responderme.
Me he levantado de muchos golpes que me dio la vida, sin embargo este es fatal, el peor. Me he quedado a cargo de mi padre esquizofrénico, no tengo amigos ni novio ni esposo. Le he dedicado mi vida y no me arrepiento, sin embargo siento que lo único que me salvaría es trabajar y aún así no tengo un momento para buscar empleo porque mi padre depende un 100% de mí. Estudié abogacía con mucho esfuerzo y logré recibirme, a pesar de ello lo único que hago es estar en casa limpiando y atendiendo a papá. Mi vida está arruinada y ni siquiera tengo a mi mamá para hablar, abrazar. Siento que no saldré de esto. Antes creía que era fuerte, pero siento como si Dios me hubiese castigado y no sé por qué. Traté de ser buena hija, buena estudiante, pero en fin parece que a Dios no le resultó suficiente y decidió sacarme a mamá, mi sostén de apenas 69 años. Era joven para irse y yo para perderla.
Siento que estoy envuelta en una pesadilla de la que no logro despertarme. Todo sucedió muy rápido y en este tiempo, apenas dos meses y medios sólo me he topado con gente abusiva. Sufro mucho y lloro todo el día, no puedo más.
Joan van Rijn says
Lisa, I really love your Greek type Christmas tree. It’s very original. I think it’s great to discover different ways that different cultures and countries celebrate Christmas.
I really am waiting for your new book “Worth Fighting For” to come out. I got your first book that you and Patrick co-wrote, ” The Time or My LIfe, I really enjoyed it. I have to admit the real thrill was when I purchased the Audiobook of “The Time of My Life”. It was like having Patrick and yourself sitting in my living room talking to me. It was very special to me.
I hope you have a great 2012, filled with challenges and happiness. May God watch over you.
Dear Lisa, thank you so much for sharing this all with us! This means so much to me! Want to let you know that you are such an inspiration to me! You really must have gone through hell (and still do) because the
worst in a life had happened to you… this is so amazing that you go through all this pain with such braveness and grace… and also try to help people in so many ways! The idea to make a new tradition for Christmas is also so very fantastic… your decoration is very beautiful…by the way.. I never have been to Greek.. but my fiance and me love to go to Greek restaurants.. because we like the Greek food so much!
Want to wish you a happy New Year 2012… I know that you are on a big new adventure… and Patrick is with
you .. with every step you do… he is so very proud of you …. and so I am too… can`t wait to read your book..
I`m sure I will love it… !!!
Sending you my Love from Germany… Please take good care of you… you are so very special and I adore
Simone Donhauser says
Great idea and thank you so much for you beautiful Pictures and for your great Blog Postings.
I wish you a beautiful new successful and healthy new year.
Love and Light
Eileen Littlefield says
I had to post. These blogs are fabulous. I am so proud of you my friend!!!
I do not speak English. I’m sad. Envié un mensaje anoche, no sé si le llegó. Necesito hablar con alguien que haya pasado algo similar.
Michele Powers says
Hi Lisa, this Christmas was my first without my husband, Patrick, who lived only one year from diagnosis of Pancreatic Cancer. He passed away July 24th of this year. I had a hard time keeping to traditions also, but I decided to make it a purple Christmas.. my tree has purple lights, purple ornaments, purple lights outside around my porch and bushes and purple lights around my large wreath outside on my garage. I wear something purple everyday, scarf, sweater, shirt, shoes, ribbons and my bracelets. If someone asks me if purple is my favorite color I now speak up and say, “yes because it reminds me of the color that represents Pancreatic Cancer, I just lost my husband to this insidious disease, let me tell you a little about it…” I figure everyone knows 300 people and if I tell people and then they tell more people.. then more may ask that one or two more questions of their doctor to investigate the sometimes “silent” symptoms that can raise a red/should be purple flag about their risk of having Pancreatic Cancer… adult onset type-2 diabetes, recent unexplained weight loss, smokers, drinkers, those who drink alot of soda, jaundice, pain radiating from front to back on the right side… I talk to anyone who will listen to me so maybe someone or two will be diagnosed early enough to have surgery and a higher chance to survive past the weeks, months or year survival rate that currently is a black cloud over anyone diagnosed with PC.
Michele P – I feel your pain… I lost my sweet Edward from PC on 8-17-11; I feel Lisa’s pain… We share the common ground of trying to fight a disease that has been ignored far to long.
Wishing you peace in 2012 and finding your “new normal” as I continue to work on my new normal.
I didn’t want to put up a tree for Christmas either, but I have a 16 yr. old who really needed one, and so it was done. And, actually, finding some of Ed’s ornaments helped.
God Bless you all in the New Year…. MK – and always, my beloved EJD xo
nicki howells says
Hi Lisa,when you first spoke about doing a greek style ‘tree’ i was hoping you would post a photo of it-wow it looks amazing!!!
Christmas was a bit subdued at ours this year,as on xmas eve my brothers father in law passed away from stomach and liver cancer,he was only diagnosed a few weeks ago. He was a lovely man,and it was such a shame he didnt get to share in his grandaughters 1st xmas! 🙁
I wish you a peaceful new year,and i am looking forward to my copy of your book arriving through my door in a few days!!
much love to you xx
Good morning Lisa: I so enjoy reading your blogs and I can only imagine how much you miss Patrick. Have fun in NY and Happy New Year! I need to buy your books.
love to you
Maria D'Angelo says
Lisa, I have the same problem with holidays. A few years ago I lost my best friend to pancreatic cancer just before Christmas. She was diagnosed with it in early November and was gone by Christmas. I still can’t believe it and it’s been 6 years. Christmas was our season. We worked together decorating wreaths to sell so I was completely and totally lost that Christmas 6 years ago.
Just after that in January I lost my Uncle to cancer. He was like another Dad to me and I still miss him so. Like you, I try to avoid the holidays. Not easy though. Doing the same thing every year just seems to make the absence of that person in the room more unbearable. At least this year I can say I didn’t cry. I’m going to try your idea of doing something different each holiday from now on. Maybe just getting away with my husband for some time just to ourselves. Thank you so much for your posts and blogs. I enjoy reading them. You’re a very strong woman.
I have thought of you so often. I was widowed at 38 (in 2000) from cancer as well. I am not sure I will read your new book as it is just too hard to go ‘there’, but I applaud you for writing it, as we both know it will help people like us. Friendships with people who ‘get it’ are what saved me, really.
I met and married a fellow widower, we are incredibly happy now, we can embrace the past, share our grief, and treasure the future as we both know how precious it is.
My horses have always been my therapy through everything, as I’m pretty sure yours have been. Wishing you all the best, Lisa.
MaryKaye Mackulin says
Diana – your web site is beautiful. I am inspired by your statment about finding love again. I hope that I will also be able to find & share my life and passion with someone who has endured something similar.
God Bless and Happy New Year to you and yours!
Julie Clements says
Hi LISA LOOKING FORWARD TO READING YOUR BOOK WORTH FIGHTING FOR, I MYSELF WENT THROUGH AWFUL LOSS OF HUSBAND WE WERE MARRIED A WONDERFUL 7YEARS, BUT KNEW HE WOULD LOOSE HIS LIFE EARLY AS HE HAD CYSTIC FIBROSIS BUT IT WASNT THAT THAT TOOK HIM IT WAS COMPLICATIONS FROM PILLS HE WAS TAKING FOR ARTHRITUS AND DIEBETIES, WHICH CAUSED LEG ULCERS ALSO,PLUS HIS LUNGS WOULD BLEED EVERY SO OFTEN ALSO,HIS COURAGE LIKE PATRICK KEPT HIM FIGHTING AND HE WOULD SAY WELL MY LOVE IF I HAVE ALL THESE CONDITIONS HOPEFULLY I AM SAVING SOMEONE ELSE THE SUFFERING HE NEVER COMPLAINED,HE ALWATS THANKED THE DOCTORS AND NURSES FOR THE CARE THEY GAVE WHENEVER HE HAD A STAY IN HOSPITAL,HE IS ALWAYS IN MY HEART AND CLOSE IN MY THOUGHTS ALWAYS AS HE JUST WAS SO CONTENT WITH LIFE WHATEVER IT THREW AT HIM,BRAVE TILL THE DAY HE DIED IN THE ROYAL BROMPTON HOSPITAL IN LONDON,AS THEY SUPPORTED US THROUGH EVERY THING AND CARED SO MUCH, I STILL HAVE A SPECIAL NURSE WHO REMEMBERS ME STILL AS SHE REALLY WAS MY SUPPORT AS SHE GOT ALL MY TEARS THROUGH THE YEARS OF TREATMENT AS I DIDNT LIKE MY MAN GRAHAM TO SEE ME IN PIECES I WANTED TO BE STRONG FOR HIM AND SHE HELPED ME DO THIS ALL THE WAY THROUGH OUR 7 WONDERFUL YEARS OF TAKING EACH DAY AT ATIME AND MAKING THE GOOD DAYS DAYS TO REMEMBER.YOUR WONDERFUL PATRICK DID THIS TOO I BELIEVE AS HE ALSO MADE THE BEST OF HIS GOOD DAYS WITH YOU, I ADMIRE YOU FOR YOUR GOING FORWARD AND SUPPORTING CANCER IN THE WAYS YOU DO ,AS I DO WITH CYSTIC FIBROSIS SUPPORT IT HELPS TO THINK YOU ARE HELPPING OTHER PEOPLE WITH THIS CONDITION AND I FIND I STILL HAVE LOVELY MEMORIES OF MY WONDERFUL GUY. SORRY TO HAVE GONE ON LISA GOD BLESS YOU LOVE JULIE XX
Wow i just read your blog as I was directed to it by a friend of mine Mariann Cheney. I loved that you wrote that you tried to hide from the holidays, well not love but you know what I mean. Funny I didn’t think anyone did that but me. I lost my Dad five years ago just a few days before Thanksgiving to Pancreatic Cancer and seemingly the holidays have not been the same since. This year I decided to go back to his home and spend the holiday there, My first visit to his home since he passed. I never imagined the emotional baggage that would be attached to that visit and I have to say it was extremely sad. I as you have decided that from now on, I would have to do something different each and every Christmas. Thanks for sharing it sure does help to know there are others out there felling some very similar things!!
My brother had the misfortune of dying on Thanksgiving day some years ago and for several years afterward, I was just bereft on that day (and those surrounding it). Recently, it dawned on me that by concentrating on my ever-present grief, I was robbing myself of the joy of the living, and that Thanksgiving is celebrating who and what we have now, in addition to what we once had.
Hope that helps a bit. xo