Grief and Christmas

After a number of requests to share what we learned at our seminar, I sent the presenter an email. I wanted to be respectful of her material and her wisdom, while still seeing if we could help others. She wanted me to share as much as I could.

The topics were wide ranging, but she gave some great ideas.

1. Be intentional about how you want to remember the person you are grieving. You could light a candle for them, hang an ornament on the tree, donate money to their favourite charity, or a meaningful charity, leave a place setting at the table, talk about your memories of that person, tell their favourite joke, sing their favourite song. It doesn't matter what it is, but have a plan. Accept that plans sometimes go awry.

2. Find a supportive place to go, where you can openly express your grief and sorrow at Christmas. This could be a blue Christmas service, a remembrance service at a local hospital or funeral home. These are important. This will be one place where no one will expect you to have a stiff upper lip.

3. Accept this year is not like other years. Make changes if necessary. The changes aren't forever, but just for this year. You can do other things, different things, or the same things you have always done next year, but this year, do things differently. This can mean going to a restaurant, going to another country, having appetizers only and no turkey, you get the picture.

4. Accept this will be hard. There will be days that will be better than other's, there will be days that it is easier for you to be in the Christmas spirit than others. Accept what you can do, and be kind.

5. Communicate that this will be hard for you, to your friends and family. Talk about how sad you are that the person isn't here, and talk about your memories or your hopes and dreams about what this Christmas was supposed to be.

6. Be kind to yourself. Watch a funny movie, leave early, bow out, go to things that bring you peace and comfort. Buy yourself a gift. Don't compensate for your sorrow by spending too much money. Invite friends over to help you decorate the tree.

7. Use ritual. Consider the holiday memorial to help you bring your loved one back into the holiday.

Perhaps more than that, remember, there is a wide group of us, we dead baby mums. And we are standing together, with not just our child's name, but yours as well. We do not grieve only for ourselves and our children, but for all of us, and this terrible time of pain. We are stronger together. When one falls, we can help each other up, and if that doesn't work, we can sit on the floor together too.