It's the holiday season.... as we all know. We can try to "skip Christmas" - I have tried this myself but unsuccessfully. In my opinion, what is more effective is trying to sit down and make a plan and figure out how to cope with this extra vulnerable time of the year. Although this is written for grieving mothers, it can be helpful for anyone who has experienced a loss. As I have mentioned to many new mamas who joined this club that we didn't ask to join.... Lots of people give you suggestions. Some will work for you and others will not. I am always interested in feedback and suggestions to add for next year, as we strive to help each other walk through this time in our lives, and the holidays.
Hugs to each one of you.
- Remember that you really must conserve your energy during this time of year. Although you will be tired, select what events that you want to attend. Or attend nothing. Don't be disappointed in yourself because you maybe just "can't" do what you've done in the past. Be kind to yourself.
- Go to the craft store and get a kit to make SOMETHING for your living children. Maybe an ornament.... Focus your mental and physical energy on the people that you love that are still living. It will show them that you love THEM too.... Our living children are suffering as well.
- Purchase a small Christmas tree and spend time searching for the "perfect" ornaments in memory of your child. I used Logan's hat as the tree topper and filled it with a colts ornament, a wrigley field ornament, football ornaments, etc. It gave me purpose and something to DO while Christmas shopping. The small tree was a table top tree that I kept in his room. I actually kept this tree up for several months.
- When I did this, my teenager daughter also requested a tree in her room too. She needed this as well. I bought a white tree and filled it with ornaments to match her room. Children will frequently become jealous of their deceased sibling. This time of the year, they become more acutely aware of the change in their family as well. Do not be "fake" happy but instead, acknowledge the feelings together. You are teaching your children how to grieve... Regardless of their age.
- Acknowledge that the holidays will forever be changed.... So change your traditions. If you always opened up presents on Christmas Eve, then consider doing it at a different time. Try to take whatever big traditions your family has and shake it up.
- Everyone is going to try to "make you happy". Be prepared with your words as you teach them to grieve. They will not understand your expectations or feelings unless you tell them... Or unless they are thrown into this situation - and we wouldn't wish that on anyone. Ever! When they ask how you are, do not always feel the need to say "fine." It's acceptable to say, "I'm trying hard but its tiring." Or "I'm getting sick of hearing Christmas music."
- So the fact that your child will not be there during the holidays is going to be the big elephant in the room that few will talk about. It helped my family on the first year to actually just acknowledge it by carving out time to recognize Logan. I bought a large decorative platter and filled it with tons of white candles of all sizes. One night prior to Christmas, we all met as a family around the coffee table and took turns lighting a candle. Each person told a story about Logan. Funny and stupid and serious stories. I had about 20 candles. Tea lights and bigger candles. Sure, we all cried! BUT that pressure release was good! It decreased the tension that we were all feeling.
- Do something special quietly in memory of your child. The money that you spent at Christmas on your child, use it to donate $$ for charities (such as when the clerk says "wanna donate a dollar to homeless people?" I say yes.... "In memory of Logan" ). Or.... You can adopt a family at Christmas.
- I tried to open my eyes and realize that Christmas and Thanksgiving is actually a SAD holiday for many people. I think it may be more sad for more people than it is happy... Look around and see that a LOT of people are in a funk and sad. What can you do to help them? Giving to others, even with kind words, will help you feel better. People are feeling inadequate as they struggle to purchase presents for their children, they may be missing a member of their family too, they may need employment, or they may just feel inadequate and sad as they compare their holidays to the expectations that society holds up for holidays.
- Most importantly, I focused on the REASON for the season. Heaven is a REAL place. It is where Jesus actually LIVES.... With our children too. I think of the wonderful gift of the Christ child and how he was sent here so all of us can have eternal life in Heaven. This isn't a new thought or concept. We KNOW that's the reason for Christmas. Now that my child is there, I feel deep appreciation and value of this gift like I had never felt previously.
As I stated before, I look forward to hearing your suggestions to pass along. You WILL make it through December... Keep putting your feet on the floor.