It is the holiday season.... as we all know. We can try to "skip Christmas" - I have tried this myself but I have been unsuccessful. In my opinion, what is more effective is to create a plan for how to cope with this extra vulnerable time of the year. The fact that your child will not be here during the holidays is often the big elephant in the room that few will acknowledge.
Conserve your energy - especially during this time of year. Although you will be tired, purposefully select what events are the most important to you... Or attend nothing. Do not be disappointed in yourself if you feel that you "cannot” do what you have done in the past. Every year will be different. Be kind to yourself.
Purchase a kit from the craft store to make SOMETHING for your living children. Maybe an ornament.... Focus your mental and physical energy on the people who you love who 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 this tree with a colts ornament, a wrigley field ornament, football ornaments, etc. It gave me purpose and something to DO for Logan (his memory) 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, it surprised me when my teenager daughter also requested a tree in her room. I bought a white tree and filled it with ornaments to match her room. It is common for children to feel somewhat 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 would not wish this on anyone. Ever! When they ask how you are, do not always feel the need to say "fine." It's acceptable to say, "I am trying hard but this is tiring." Or "I am sick of hearing Christmas music."
The first Christmas, I created a plan to carve out time for our family to remember Logan. I bought a large decorative platter and filled it with about 20 assorted sizes of white candles. 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. Sure, we all cried, but we also LAUGHED. Most importantly, the pressure release of the tension felt good and was definitely healthy.
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 "would you like to donate a dollar to help support the homeless mission?" I usually will say yes.... "In memory of Logan" ). Or.... You could adopt a family for Christmas.
I tried to open my eyes and realize that Christmas and Thanksgiving is actually a SAD holiday for many people. Pause and notice that a LOT of people are in a funk and also sad. What can you do to help them? Giving to others, even with kind words, will help you feel better. In reality, people are often 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 is not a new thought or concept. We KNOW that 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.