2018 is coming to a close and for many of us around the world it is a year we can’t wait to leave behind us. Millions of women experience pregnancy loss, late-term miscarriage, still births, and infant loss every single year. Some of these women are mothers to other children, making the holidays and especially difficult time. You want to create a happy, joyous time for your family but it can be hard to smile through the pain of your loss.
When you have experienced a miscarriage, pregnancy loss, or infant loss it is easy to start having thoughts like, “The baby would be X weeks, months, years old right now” or “I would be X far along in my pregnancy.” Those thoughts can weigh us down, making our arms feel heavy yet empty. We long to have that child with us in what should be a happy time for our family, but we can’t help but feel the grief for what should have been.
Despite a mother’s unique ability to put on a happy smile, our family can often recognize the pain we are in even if we don’t out right say it. Here are a few tips on how to get yourself through the holidays despite the pain you are feeling:
- Be Honest– Tell your family that you’re hurting inside. Letting them know how you feel can help them understand why you aren’t being your normal, cheery self during the holidays.
- Allow Yourself to Grieve– Our first instinct is to often push our feelings of pain aside, especially when we are caring for others like our children or spouses. But allowing yourself to grieve- cry, yell, feel the pain of your loss- can give you the catharsis you need.
- Buy a Gift for the Baby and Give it to Someone in Need– Although it may sound counter-intuitive, go out and buy a gift for your child that is missing from your family. Even if they would not have been born yet, it can be therapeutic to choose something that you might get for your child if they could be there this holiday season. Donate that gift to a church or to Toys for Tots to give to a family in need.
- Honor your Child– Buy an ornament, or make one, that you can put on your tree every year to remember them by
- Smile– It sounds silly but simply making yourself smile can often help your brain release endorphins that can give you a little boost of happiness, even when you feel broken.
The holidays are a hard time for mothers who have experienced loss. Our pain is always with us. We think to how old our children might be, who they might be, and what their favorite Paw Patrol character might have been. We imagine what they may have been when they grew up or what they would have looked like. The holidays give us a sense of perspective on what life might have been.
Your heart is breaking, mama. We can see it. We can feel it.