Surviving the holidays

The holiday season can be an especially difficult time for families that have experienced a loss. We hope that the following tips and advice will help you cope and bring back some of the joy to the holidays.
If you have advice you’d like to add, please send it to april@facesofloss.com, with ‘Surviving the Holidays’ in the subject line. Thanks!
 

Do what is right for you.
People may have expectations of you during the holiday season, but don’t let them pressure you into doing things you are not ready for.

  • Do what feels right for you, and don’t let people make you feel bad for feeling sad, if that’s how you’re feeling. If it brings you comfort, do it. – Rebecca

  • You have to celebrate/remember your baby in your own way. And the biggest thing is don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.  … NEVER allow anyone to tell you how you should grieve and remember your angel. Especially if they have never been through it.- Jen
  • Do what YOU NEED to do without apology. If you need to skip things, skip things. If it helps send them a babyloss article or blog post that may have the words you need to use but can’t find – Martina
  • I think you should do whatever you have to do to get through this time. If you want to avoid things (Christmas parties, whatever), by staying home, or distracting yourself like I did, do it. I have heard of some people having Christmas day on a tropical vacation just to do something totally different than they normally would. – Rochelle
  • Don’t worry about what anyone expects you to do. You need to do only what you feel is right for you. No one else. If that means no decorating or gifts, then so be it. If people don’t like it, that is their problem, not yours. – Cristy
  • If it’s the first year, sometimes the holidays are too unbearable…then do what works for you and your husband even if it means going on a short vacation away from family. My mistake was feeling obligated to be with family instead of taking care of myself. – Patty
  • Do what your heart tells you to do, there’s no wrong answers. – LaRene

Find a way to honor your baby.
Whether it’s a special ornament, a stocking or a donation in honor of your baby; do something special for him/her and include them in your holiday.

  • Honor your baby with an ornament or some special time remembering them. – Kirsten
  • I did make an ornament to hang on our tree and sent one to my parents. I wanted to acknowledge him even though I knew I couldn’t count on how others would. … If you want to celebrate your child by having a candle lighting, hanging an ornament, a stocking, giving them a gift, donating in their name, DO it. Whatever you do will be right. – Rochelle
  • My fiance and I are going to make a donation in Kaden’s name and then doing something special in memory of him/her. I plan on doing this every year. – Maureen
  • Making your own tradition to include your baby helps. We made a stocking to hang with my baby’s name on it. We put toys to take to her resting place. – Patty
  • Last year was our first Christmas after losing our daughter. We honored her with her own special tree with special ornaments just for her and let her big brother help decorate it. Don’t let anyone tell you what you should or shouldn’t do or be feeling. Regardless if how long it has been. Everyone grieves differently. For me… Doing little things (like her tree) helps me do something special for ALL of my children on special occasions and all year long. – Lauren
  • What helps me is getting a special ornament for Christmas, it can be anything that helps you get through. Having something little like that, that you can see everyday that makes your heart warm. – Audrey
  • We hang a stocking for our babies; every year since 1997 and 1998 ♥ – Lisa
  • It took a couple of years to start to feel comfortable with the holidays. You just need to do what feels right. We have a mini tree that we decorate in his memory and a stocking that we hang. It’s our way to remember our special boy. - Corin
  • Find ways to honor your baby.  We chose to buy gifts for an Angel Tree child.  So, even though we couldn’t buy gifts for our child, we were able to help another child have a merrier Christmas. – Nicole

Schedule time to grieve and find a safe place to retreat.
If you plan time for grieving in private it will help you to not become overwhelmed when you are around others. It is also helpful to have a place to retreat (an online message board or a call to a friend) for times you do feel overwhelmed.

  • Schedule in time for you to grieve, that way it’s less overwhelming when you are at a function, but be kind enough to yourself to leave if you find yourself upset. – Mandy
  • Find a “safe place” where people understand and it might help keep you from having to search out support at the holiday parties. My place was a bulletin board. Now a days, you could even step out whenever you need to and visit your safe place from a smart phone. – Hope
  • Allow yourself to feel sad, even during the holidays.  Talk about your baby as much as you’d like. – Nicole

Allow yourself to enjoy the season.
Do not feel guilty if you find yourself being happy during the holidays. It’s just proof that you are healing.

  • … allow yourself to feel happiness or even joy if it happens to come your way–don’t feel guilty for being happy or enjoying yourself. Try to live in the moment or “the holiday season” may feel overwhelming. – Rebecca

 

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