At a time of year when we all feel like we should be happy, light, grateful, and giving, it can be overwhelming to feel sad, angry, and less than generous. Anyone can experience these emotions, but when you are facing the holidays for the first time after a significant loss, the feelings can be downright daunting.
I have written about the holidays before on here and don't want to repeat what you can already find on this blog, but I do want you newly bereaved parents to know that there are people out here who understand at least some of what you are experiencing, and I hope you will reach out for help if you feel the need. For those of you who have already lived through the first year or two after the death of your baby, one of the greatest gifts you can give this holiday season is to offer your own story of hope and survival. Experts can write about this stuff until they are blue in the face (and what they have to say is very valuable) but often bereaved parents want to hear directly from other bereaved parents. They want to know of someone who can relate to them on that very personal level of having been there. They simply want to hear words of understanding from those who have walked this path.
It's been many years since Kathleen died on that beautiful late September afternoon, but in all the Christmas seasons we have lived through since then, I have not been able to avoid a one where at some point it strikes me how hopelessly sad I was that first year. For me, that memory most often hits me when we are sitting in church on Christmas Eve, listening to music and seeing all the little kids barely able to contain their excitement as they bounce up and down in their Christmas outfits. I love that part of the holiday, but I recall all too well how guilty I felt for feeling anger when I witnessed that for the first time after Kathleen was born. The pain of knowing she would never be one of those kids, nearly tore me apart.
Today, I once again find joy in that vision and comfort in the belief that our child is safe and happy. While that has worked for me, each of you must find your own peace in your own timeframe. Allow yourself to feel your sadness, but do not ever give up hope that your life can be happy again. I firmly believe your baby would not want any less for you.
NOTE: Here are links to some resources that might be helpful (copy and paste link in your browser):