Surviving the Holidays

The holiday season can be an enormous stressor when you are still grieving the loss of your baby.  You might be caught between the need to grieve and the pressure from family and friends to get into the spirit.  Here are some general guidelines to help you handle the upcoming holiday:

  • Keep in mind that certain days or times of the year are going to be difficult.  The anticipation can be significantly worse than the day itself.
  • Allow yourself to feel joy and be thankful for what you have.  Realize that you will have pleasant and enjoyable moments and don’t feel guilty about it.
  • Take care of yourself.  Exercise, eat right, and get plenty of sleep.  Listen to calming music, take a bath, read a book, or write in a journal.
  • Realize you might not be able to do everything you used to do.  Let yourself scale back on activities.  Remember that you can’t erase the holiday if you have other children.  If you can’t make it special for them, have friends or family help.  Ask for what you need.  People feel glad to help out.
  • Give yourself permission to feel whatever it is you feel.  Express your emotions.   If you’re angry, let it out.  If you need to cry, let the tears flow.
  • Don’t forget to include your baby in your day, in a way that feels comfortable.  Talk about him/her, say his/her name.  Remember and talk about the memories.  Communicating your feelings and talking about your thoughts is extremely important..

Ideas for coping

Following are some options you might want to try to help you get through the holidays.

  • Purchase a tree or evergreen and plant it in memory of your loved one.
  • Decorate the memorial/gravesite for the holidays or buy a new ornament for the Christmas tree.
  • Donate money to a local charity in memory of your baby or participate in random acts of kindness – Volunteer at a local hospital, senior center, or food/animal shelter.  Help a neighbor, bake cookies, or bring food to a shut in.
  • Remember your baby in Christmas cards.  Write a note in remembrance of your baby and his/her memories.
  • Light a candle, release a balloon, or tie a ribbon around a tree in your yard in memory of your baby.

Suggested reading

  • A Decembered Grief: Living With Loss While Other Are Celebrating by Harold Smith
  • How Will I Get Through The Holidays? 12 Ideas for Those Whose Loved One Has Died by James E. Miller
  • Surviving Holidays, Birthdays, and Anniversaries: A Guide for Grieving During Special Occasions by Brook Noel
  • The Empty Chair: Handling Grief and Holidays and Special Occasions by Susan J. Zonnebelt-Smeenge and Robert C. DeVries
  • Thoughts for the Holidays: Finding Permission to Grief by Doug Manning

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