I think one of the most difficult things for me is talking to couples who have lost a child in the last year and hear them speak of the dread they feel as Mother's Day and Father's Day approach. I have written about this before and encouraged moms and dads to try and find a way to get through the day as best they can while allowing themselves to celebrate the fact that they are parents of a child they loved very much. I have to admit those words can sound pretty hollow, and I can't help but think to myself, "who am I kidding? -- it sucks and there is no way of avoiding it."
It also may not really help to know that for most of us, it does get easier as time goes by and we heal to the point of being able to feel more of the joy than the pain of our child's short life. It's good to have hope, but you still have to make it through those first holidays where it seems like everyone else is celebrating while you want to crawl under a rock and hope it can just go away.
I hope those of you who read this blog that have a little more time under your belt since your loss, can share things that you found helpful as you faced these difficult times. Some of you may have shared before, but know that there are always new people coming on board who could benefit from your experience and your hard earned wisdom.
There are just a couple of things I want to say again (hollow or not) because I honestly believe they are important to remember:
1) Yes..... you are a parent. For those whose loss was your first child, sometimes it's easy to fall into the trap of not thinking you have the "right" to celebrate these special days. Adding to the misconception is the fact that family and friends wrongly believe that they should not say anything or acknowledge the day for fear it might remind you that your baby died... (if only it were that easy to make the pain go away.)
2) Be creative. If you don't feel you can celebrate the day with the traditional brunch or family gathering, try and think of ways that you can make this day special for you and your baby. If that means going to the cemetary or visiting a place you recall being happy during your pregnancy, allow yourselves the opportunity to do that. Write a note to your child, release a balloon, visit a hospital or nursing home, go for a walk, cry, laugh, plant a bush (or flower or tree), smile..... most importantly, be around people who will let you do what you need to do... no matter who or how many that is.
3) Be hopeful. Ask yourselves what your baby would want this day to be like for you?
I could rattle on for a long time trying to be profound, but I'll spare you that. I would much rather have others of you who probably did a lot better job than myself in dealing with the sadness write your thoughts. It's when you share things that can help others (even if it's letting them know they are not the only ones hurting) that you give your child a voice and let them touch the world and make it better.
Good luck. You are not alone.