Leah, a mom for The Butterfly Run Community, has put together a thoughtful post about coping with the upcoming Holiday season. We thank her for the time and energy she to put into it.
The holidays are always tricky, but they become even more difficult when you are experiencing infertility or pregnancy and infant loss. The time of year that is supposed to bring joy and happiness often leaves those who are suffering feeling alone and thinking of what could have been.
This year, after my daughter Eliza was stillborn in August, I’ve been dreading Christmas. Standing in the aisle at Canadian Tire looking a decorations brought me to tears one day. So I reached out to other parents who have walked this journey to asking for advice.
How do you cope with the holidays?
Overwhelmingly, everyone said to be kind and gentle with yourself and on that day do whatever you need. If you wake up the day of the party and you just don’t feel you can handle it, give yourself permission to cancel and not go. You may want to tell the hosts that you won’t be coming, or warn them when you RSVP that there is always a chance you might not feel up to it that day.
Other people interpret the idea of doing what they need as skipping the big holiday dinner all together. (Honestly, some days this doesn’t sound like a bad idea to me.) I had a few people tell me they left the city, and went on vacation.
Another great piece of advice is if you do decide to brave the holiday functions have an escape plan. For us, that means warning the hosts beforehand that you might need to leave unexpectedly. I’ve heard from others to have a “safe word” with your partner that tells them it’s time to leave.
I also received lots of ideas from parents about how they include the child they lost in their holiday traditions. For some, that means having the child’s name included on cards. Another idea is having an ornament for the tree, which is something we have done for ourselves and also close family members. One mum told me how she has an ‘Angel Tree’ for her daughter and as they find or are given new ornaments, they add them to the tree. I thought this was such special way to include her daughter at Christmastime.
The last, and probably the suggestion that felt most impactful to me, was the idea of donating a toy to a local charity appropriate to the child’s age. This year, we will be donating something for an infant. I loved this idea so much because it is very actionable and it makes me feel like a parent. I’m hoping this will be a tradition we can carry on for years to come.
I have no doubt this Christmas is going to be difficult, but hopefully I can take some of this great advice and make it a little easier. I hope whatever your journey is, you have a happy and safe holiday season and that the New Year brings you lots of joy.