The holiday season is portrayed as a fun time of the year with parties, celebrations, family gatherings, and gift giving. But it also can be a challenging time filled with sadness, loneliness, and reflection. This is very true, especially for families trying to conceive, pregnant, or parenting after loss (PAL).
This year, I encourage you to join these events exactly as you are.
No matter if you are hosting the PAL family or are the PAL family. You don’t need to pretend to be happy. Give yourself permission to be yourself. It ok to be both sad and ok at the same time.
For the friends and family of loss parents, invite the those families into your lives and celebrations.
Embrace them for who and where they are right now. There is no need to try to fix them. You don’t need to be extra cheery. You don’t need to fix their sadness.
- Be present with them.
- Let them know you care.
- Understand that you are not responsible for them and their sadness.
- If your offer to join you is rejected, don’t take it personally.
- If your offer is accepted, allow them to contribute as they see fit: with food, time, and their presence.
For the PALS families, know that those who welcome you do it with best intentions.
They care about you and that is why they invited you. Sometimes you may feel overwhelmed and stressed–which is normal. The following ideas may help to make this time of the year less stressful and help you to find the space to be both sad and ok:
- Make realistic expectation for the holiday season.
- Set realistic goals for yourself and your family.
- Forget perfection.
- Make time for self care.
- Be open to creating a new tradition.
- Be realistic about what you can and cannot do. Share the responsibility of holiday tasks with others.
- Try to avoid setting yourself up for sadness by comparing today with what is missing. But if you do its ok with sit with the sadness.
- Avoid being by yourself. Consider volunteering if family and friends are not available. Or call me and join our celebration, just as you are.
- Find a way to create space for your lost child to be part of the holidays too. Perhaps this is an ornament or mentioning them during a family gathering.