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  • Grief and Loss during the Holidays

    Grief & Loss During the Holidays

     

    It’s that time of year where family and friends come together and celebrate the holidays. For most people, the holiday season is a cheerful time that is filled with making memories, carrying out traditions, and celebrating. For others, this can be a triggering time filled with grief and complications. It’s normal not to want to celebrate and instead hide away from family or friends. You may not want to travel and need that time to recuperate, rest, and grieve. On the other hand, if you want to participate in all the exciting activities, that is okay too. There is no right or wrong on how you want to get through the holiday season.

    I experienced my miscarriage right before Thankgiving in 2021 which made the holidays an extremely emotional and difficult time. At this time, I had two toddlers at home who depended on their mom to make their holiday season special. How could I possibly do this when I just lost someone so important to me? The thoughts that ran through my mind such as, who will buy and wrap the presents, whose family members’ house will we have to attend and how many, will people ask me questions, what if everyone becomes mad at me because I don’t want to participate in Christmas or Thanksgiving this year? As much as I wanted to shut down I decided to participate in the holidays. I made sure my children had memories to look back on because I know they were grieving the loss as much as I was. But I made sure to take mental breaks and ask for help when it was needed.

    I remember going to a friend’s house for a small get-together in December, so a month after my loss, and someone who did not know of my loss, asked me how me and the baby were doing. I remember running to the bathroom and crying and texting my husband in the next room asking him to leave. He respected my boundaries and he was the one to explain to our friends why we were leaving. They were just as respectful and understanding and no further conversations needed to be made. At the time I felt guilty for leaving, but looking back it was a healthy decision.

    There are some ways to cope with this but it will require being straightforward with loved ones to ensure your emotional needs are met.

    BOUNDARIES

    These can look different for anyone depending on your family, holidays that are celebrated, cultural reasons and more. A few that are standard are setting boundaries with conversations. If you feel uncomfortable with discussing your loss you can explain that you are not ready to discuss this and no explanations are owed. Another boundary is choosing who you want to be around and what type of setting. If large crowds are overwhelming you can choose not to go, or see if other accommodations can be made. It’s not selfish of you for wanting to feel at peace during this time.

    HONOR YOUR BABY

    You may find it comforting to start a tradition to remember your baby during the holidays. This may look like buying an ornament that honors them or lighting a candle on your holiday to honor their presence. It could be volunteering or buying a gift for someone in need. Whatever this may look like for you, if you want your baby to be part of your holidays you can do it and let the important people in your life know what you need to honor your baby so they can support you.

    SELF-CARE

    As always, it is important to practice self care no matter how big or small. Some examples are taking alone time away from family, friends, work etc. Maybe do a holiday tradition that brought you happiness as a child or bake your favorite cookies. Grief can be hard anytime of the year but can intensify around the holidays. It may help to get some professional support. Click ‘schedule an appointment’ today to schedule a free 15 minute consultation.

    Monica Bartley QMHS, SWT
    MBartley@traumatherapycompany.com

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      August 10, 2023 at 10:16 am -
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      August 10, 2023 at 2:09 pm -
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