It’s the holidays. Notoriously a happy and gleeful time of year yet can be the most painful time of year, especially following pregnancy loss. If you have experienced a loss this year, I am so sorry for your loss. I am so sorry that this will be your first Christmas without your baby. I don’t know your pain, but I do know my pain and it hurts. I would be holding a new baby this Christmas but instead, I hold him in my heart. Here are some tips to help you through these holidays.
It’s okay to say NO.
If you don’t feel like spending time with friends and family, it’s okay to say no. Be gentle with your dismissal of their offer, “Thank you for inviting us but we won’t be able to attend,” is an easy way of declining. You don’t have to give the reason. If you feel like sharing, go ahead but don’t feel obligated. Know your limits and don’t push yourself.
You don’t have to “fake” it.”
There is this feeling of guilt we have if we bring sadness and despair to holiday parties and gatherings. You don’t have to “fake” a smile. It’s okay to be authentic and be the person you are in this moment. I remember one Mother’s Day just sitting on the couch away from the entire family. I knew I couldn’t say anything nice and I couldn’t participate in all the festivities so instead, I just sat away from everyone. I gave my hubby permission to indulge and have fun and I didn’t resent him for it. I just decided that I couldn’t fake it so this is where I felt the best.
Remember your little one.
Purchase an ornament and decorate it, buy a gift, make something, participate in an Angel Tree/Wreath. Even if your little one isn’t here, there are many things you can do to remember them or donate in remembrance. We have ornaments for both our babies and every year we pick a child who is the same age as our Ruby would be and purchase gifts for them from the Angel Wreath at our church. This year was particularly fun as Ruby would have been 5. The 5 year old girl we picked wanted a red party dress.
I didn’t realize how much fun I could have picking out that dress. At first, I was kind of sad, but as I searched through the many red dresses available my heart filled with love over how happy the little girl was going to be when she opened her present revealing the red dress. There were many to choose from but I ultimately chose this one.
Know someone will say the wrong thing.
“When are you going to try again?”
“It’s God’s way of saying it’s not meant to be.”
“There must have been something wrong with the baby so you are better off.”
These comments can be very hurtful although the sender usually is trying to give bring comfort in these words.
Choose your battles.
There will always be someone who just “won’t get it.” It’s up to you if you want to “educate” them or walk away. This goes along with the above, the person likely isn’t trying to cause you pain or to be insensitive but the comments or lack there of, can still be infuriating.
Someone will likely ignore you, the situation, and/or be silent.
This can be just as painful as hearing insensitive comments. I have been told often that someone, a family member, relative, or friend, said nothing. Wouldn’t it be nice if they said, “Remembering your little one(s) with you today.” It can be as simple as that and it is so comforting to hear someone recognize your little one.
Don’t feel guilty or shameful for feeling happy.
It’s okay to enjoy yourself. The holiday season is a time where we see relatives we haven’t seen often enough and it’s okay to smile, laugh, and have some fun. This does not mean you don’t love your baby or have forgotten them.
Support groups, therapists, counselors, mentors, friends, online and in person groups, can be a wonderful source of comfort as you navigate the holidays. Clergy, priests, pastors, and church services can also be a way to seek comfort. If you feel you are depressed, please seek the support of a licensed therapist to help you.