Saturday, December 5, 2009

Deck The Halls....With LW Memories??

As the holidays approach, many GOWs and WOWs will deal with a W who is determined to incorporate LW's memory into the season. He may wish to do this in many different ways: candlelight memorials, grave visits, and/or dinners with LW's family. He may also wish to hang LW's or "their" ornaments on the GOW/W or WOW/W Christmas tree.

So how sensitive should a GOW/WOW be to W's need to memorialize his LW at Christmastime?

The following is my reply to a sensitive yet infuriated WOW from The Official WOW/GOW Message Board , who wrote that her W/husband has decorated an "LW Tree" every year since her death, and continues to do so into their marriage:

"I believe there is a HUGE difference between a W who considers LW items as just "things" and their meaning is insignificant, and Ws who attach meaning and memorials to every item their LWs ever owned. The former has let go of the past, and the latter hasn't. There is a HUGE difference between "moving on" and "letting go". Every W moves on - it is the act of returning to some kind of daily routine post-LW. But not every W has let go, which is the acceptance of LW's passing and an embracing of the present and future.

I hate to say this, but your W's behaviour concerns me. He continues to memorialize his LW in a very significant way, which means he has not yet let go, nor has he completed his bereavement recovery since the last stage of grief is "acceptance". Had this year been the first time he wanted to decorate a memorial tree, I would say it was a clear case of latent grief....but you said he has done this every year that LW has been gone, which leads me to believe he did this tree even before you met and then just carried on the tradition into your marriage. And by remaining supportive of this, you have subconsciously enabled him to remain stuck in the final and most critical grief stage.

When you say that you have been "sensitive" to this yet also infuriated, it sounds to me that you have never adequately communicated your feelings, and therefore, resentment has set in. I think it's time for you to speak up. Believe me, you are not doing him any favours by being the sacrificial martyr of your feelings, as I am sure your resentment is putting up a wall between you and him, and is also robbing you (and by proxy, him too) of the joy of the holiday.

You have a right to be heard on this issue. Don't go through another holiday without telling your W how his LW Tree makes you feel. In using The Three C's - communication, cooperation, and compromise - you can begin a line of communication based on honesty and trust. (I refer you to my blog at for more about The Three C's and other articles pertaining to the difference between moving on and letting go).

The marriage of WOW and W signifies a release of the past and an embracing of the present and future. Every holiday shared together shoul dbe a reflection of ONLY you and he and the life you two share. Honestly, I don't think there is any room for LW in a WOW/W holiday, unless the WOW is 100% certain her husband has let go, and is only asking for memorial ornaments to be hung for the sake of the children he and LW had together."