Strategies and Suggestions for Coping with the Holidays
Family traditions are an important element of the holiday season. Whether these traditions are passed down from prior generations, or newly created, they add a sense of security to this fractious time of year. For parents grieving the loss of their children, this time is often more isolating and full of anguish. It’s normal to dread the holiday season and the stress that abounds. Many parents pray for January, preferring to skip December altogether.
Christmas songs speak about being jolly and bright. Yet this is just the opposite when you can’t celebrate the season with your heavenly child by your side. You don’t get to see their anticipation and joy. You feel anything but joyful. You may have to force yourself to find something to be grateful about. For you, this is the worst time of the year.
Family members and friends often don’t realize your grief is always residing just beneath the surface. When we put on our fake face and smile, we do that to protect others and ourselves. You need to give yourself permission to be authentic and true to yourself. It’s okay to cry. Tears help release the pain in your heart and soul.
It is natural to become overwhelmed with emotions when memories are jogged by holiday music or even decorations. The invisible triggers will be there for all of us in unique ways. Knowing what your triggers are will help with the onslaught of intense and unexpected emotions.
Triggers of the holiday season may include:
- Christmas lights
- Christmas music
- Special ornaments and stockings
- Favorite holiday foods
- Family activities
- Christmas movies
- Shopping (knowing you don’t need to buy a present this year)
- Family gatherings and outings
- Christmas presents under the tree
The wishes of grieving mothers and fathers are much more simple. They just want to see and hold their heavenly children. Our love for our children only grows stronger. We are aware a piece of our heart is always missing.
We want to celebrate our children with all the traditions that create joyful memories to cherish. Yet we now have to find new ways to celebrate our heavenly children.
How can we include our heavenly children in all the festivities when missing them is so painful? My heavenly son is in every waking thought like a shadow. This will be the sixth Christmas without my son. It could easily be the first year without him.
I wonder what my son is thinking about his new nephew named after him? I wonder if he is sitting here next to me as I write this to you. I miss hearing his voice and laughter. I wish he could give me a big hug and not let go.
Including your heavenly child during the holiday season can help reduce anxiety. There are symbolic ways to embrace your child if you are concerned about what others think. However, you should do what you feel is important to you without the concern or criticism of others.
Suggestions for remembering your heavenly child:
- Light a candle
- Place an angel next to his or her picture
- Place an ornament on the tree or alter
- Buy a new ornament
- Decorate a small tree for the altar
- Write a letter to your heavenly child
- Allow yourself to think of the memories and feel the love in your heart
- Remember your child is always with you and can feel your love and your pain
- Meditate and see your child in your arms and sharing your love for each other
- Make a place setting for the table
- Keep an article of clothing near for comfort
- Take time outs to replenish your soul
This year I purchased wooden angel wings to hang over my son’s altar. I will also buy an angel to add to his collection. I include my son in everything. I have conversations in my head with him all the time. I also talk out loud to him. I know he hears me either way.
Whether your child lived for a few minutes or several years, you will always be a parent. You will always love, cherish, and miss their presence. Whether you choose to forgo celebrating the holidays, or have other children and family that requires your participation, give yourself time out and time off.
From my heart to your hearts, I send you love, hope, and courage to get through this holiday season. May each of you all be blessed and find peace in your heart.