Post by: Nicole Bruno, Bereavement Doula/Loss Parent
I hope you all are well and utilizing the care and resources you need to get by. I was tempted to title this handling the holidays or celebrating the holidays but I remember just trying to get by, barely making it through that first year I lost my daughter. If I could give any advice it would be these things:
As many of you know you find out who your true friends and family are when bad things happen. Surround yourself with these people. People who “get it”. People who want to honor and remember your child with you. Don’t feel guilty about holding a boundary if you are not ready to celebrate or see certain people. Protect your heart.
Set time limits if you need to. If you want to see everyone but are unsure if you can handle hours of celebrating set a time limit in advance and let family know you can only stay for that time. Sometimes you need time to decompress after a big event like that and it gives you the opportunity and time to do that. Another option is spending the holiday away. Our homes can be full of reminders and triggers so this may be a good option for some of you.
Find ways to honor your baby/create new family traditions. I have a tradition of purchasing an ornament and making an angel ornament with the support group I attended when I lost my daughter. I have a tiny tree I decorate as well. Every year when we decorate our big tree and pull out those ornaments I feel like she is there with us. That first year I bought a toy for her and decorated a tree at her grave. I have seen others donate toys to children in need and “adopt a family” to provide presents for. There are so many ways to honor your baby just find what works for your family. If you need any help or suggestions I would be happy to help.
Don’t feel guilty for being sad. It is normal to be sad about the death of your child. I remember feeling like I was missing out and a lot of sadness around what should be happening. In contrast, don’t feel guilty for enjoying your holidays. You can be happy and honor your baby, and you are allowed to do both and it is healthy to do both.
Lastly, I want you to know that the TLB team is here if you need us throughout this holiday season. We want you to know that we support you however you decide to celebrate the holidays and appreciate you sharing your babies with us. We hope you do whatever brings you the most peace this holiday season. If you would like some in-person support as we approach the holidays, please join us at our November in-person support group on November 16th at Bonesaw Brewing! It is free to attend, but we ask you do let us know if you will attend.