As the holiday season is upon us, I can’t help but feel the overwhelming sense of joy radiating from others. I know that feeling because that used to be me. There is something magical about the first snow of the season, the moment you add the final ornament to the tree and the smell of Christmas that is all consuming in every store. Thanksgiving is this week and I can’t help but feel lost as I navigate through the holidays, that used to bring me so much joy.
When you lose a loved one, the dynamic of your family is altered. Traditions change and sometimes new ones are born. For me, this is the first holiday season without our son, Liam. As some of you know, we lost our son this past August, two days before his due date. He would have been three months old today. The holiday season isn’t just sad because he isn’t here. There is much more that bonds our son and Christmas time. I found out we were expecting in the middle of last December. I shared the news, with my husband, with a gold bassinet ornament. To say we were excited would be an understatement. We decided to share the news with our parents and siblings Christmas morning.
Now I sit surrounded by Christmas decorations, patiently wait to be hung. Gold glitter coats my fingers as I hold that gold bassinet ornament, that was responsible for so much joy. I can’t help but think I am not alone in this. Whether it is losing a child, grandparent, parent or even friend, the first holiday season hurts. I think the biggest hurdle is trying to allow yourself to feel that joy you once thrived on. The holidays are supposed to bring a sense of family and togetherness. Luckily, I have an amazing support system of friends and family that are here for us. Many do not have that active support.
It is easy to forget about the ones whom are struggling to find joy this season. Here are some ways to console a healing heart. Share some ways people have helped you, through the holidays, in the comment section below.
Call or reach out to that person, even if they say they are fine.
I am guilty of this. I tend to be more concerned about how others feel, instead of focusing on my own feelings. I don’t want to bring sadness to others or even concern them with my feelings, especially during the holidays. Soon after Liam passed away, I found myself telling those around me that I was doing fine. When really, I was sitting in his nursery blotting my mascara stained cheeks. I can’t express enough how much it means to receive that call or text from a loved one checking in on me, just to say hi. Even if I wouldn’t respond right away, it was never an inconvenience or a bad time to receive that text. When I finally responded truthfully to the, “How are you doing?” question, I allowed my support system to really be there for me.
Face time can be powerful.
This can sometimes be hard, as everyone has a busy schedule during the holidays. It can be difficult if you live far away too. Setting aside some time to physically sit down with the person, can make such a difference. It could be a quick coffee break or just stopping by the house to say hello. There is a sense of emptiness that fills ones life the first holiday season after a loss. Being able to physically sit with a friend or family member can pull that person out of the trenches. For a brief moment, laughter and even a hug, will make a difference.
You may have to become the planner.
I can speak directly to this. As we continue to grieve our son, the idea of leaving the house to go out, never sounds like something I want to do. My friends and family actively initiate making plans. I am more open to going out, if I am invited versus the other way around. With the roles reversed, I understand why one may not want to inconvenience a grieving soul. It is standard to tell the grieving person to reach out to you, when they are ready to go out. The honest truth is, we never are “ready” and sometimes need that push to make plans.
For those grieving along side me this holiday season, my heart is with you. Try to focus on something that you are grateful for and take it one day at a time. -xo