The holidays are so happy for everybody! Maybe. I just had to say that. The holidays can bring a maelstrom of feelings for many. The Hellidays. Meh-ry Christmas. When you are grieving, the holidays can feel overwhelming. This can be worsened by others’ demands for traditional activities, places, foods, and happiness. When my daughter was in the NICU at the holidays, trying to decide if she was going to live or die, I remember walking around in a fog. “Happy holidays? What IS happiness?” was my answer to others’ chirpy excitement. I was happy for their happiness. For myself? Happiness was elusive. I was too numb to notice good cheer. Here’s what I learned in that difficult season: finding a little freedom during the holidays is up to you.
This might be about action. You can say yes or no to events. Really! After a devastating pregnancy loss, many of my patients scoot it out of town for a completely different experience. Others do their best to just skip the season altogether. Some ask loved ones to send donations to Pregnancy After Loss Support, Star Legacy Foundation or the US Cuddle Cot Campaign Initiative. You do not need anyone’s permission to take care of yourself. Sing out!
You might know the song “Sing Out” by the wonderful Cat Stevens, now known as Yusuf Islam.
Well, if you want to say yes say yes
And if you want to say no, say no
‘Cause there’s a million ways to go
You know that there are…
I’m offering it to you here with some additional suggestions.
If you are grieving, grieve.
If you feel sad, feel sad.
If you feel detached, feel detached.
If you feel numb, feel numb.
If you feel meh, feel meh.
If you feel mad, feel mad. (Just do your best not to put it on others.)
If you feel guilty, ask yourself why. I tell my patients this all the time: GUILT IS OPTIONAL.
If you feel some peace, feel peace.
If you feel connected to what you love about the holidays, connect, by any means. If you have a living child or children, she or he or they may help you to remember something good about holiday traditions.
If you feel that you need forgiveness, give it to yourself wholeheartedly.
If you feel like forgiving someone else, offer it.
And please, remember your precious baby or babies. They matter at the holidays.
And so do you.