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How do you survive holidays after a loss? Please share.

 

sad tree In December, a client I used to see called me. Six years ago, she had a stillbirth. We hadn’t spoken in a while. She said that she was feeling really low, and that—no matter how much time has passed—the holidays are always hard. Observing her friends and family members—their plans and their activities—made her feel bad.

During the holidays, happiness is being broadcast everywhere, and it’s all about kids and babies and family. You want to be a part of the celebration, but you feel different from other people. It’s hard to put on a happy face for the family, to smile for nieces and nephews, to take photos or put up decorations.

So now that the holidays are done, and it’s a new year, let’s ask the question: how do you take care of yourself during a season of celebration? The internet is full of useful lists (like this, or this), but what is your personal experience? How did you get through Christmas or Kwanzaa or Hanukkah this year? How do you deal with grief and feel your feelings while still maintaining equilibrium?

What works for you? What’s most challenging? What advice would you give to another grieving parent, or to the people who care about them?

Please comment below.

Remembering You, Remembering Us: a virtual space to share

Remembering You, Remembering Us: a virtual space to share

When my son died, I no longer recognized the world. Among those I knew, some people drew close to keep me company in my grief, and others retreated, as if I scared them.

And then there were others–people who had been strangers to me–who appeared out of the sky. These people I did not know came to speak to me because they had also lost a child. They told me the story of what had happened to them, and named the child they had lost. They came to hear how my heart had been broken, and to tell me how I might survive.

I picture these people as a flock of birds, gathering from a million places, circling in the sky, drawn to descend at the signal of my distress. A man my father knew from work, a neighbor down the street, the old girlfriend of a cousin: each one had a story, all of them wanted to listen, and none turned away from my despair.

I hope that Remembering You, Remembering Us can become a flock of voices, bringing people together to listen to one another’s stories and to share their own. I hope that all of us who know the long bewilderment of grief can gather to witness, to heal together, and to honor, always, the power of loving a child.

Lea Wolf, Remembering You, Remembering Us program partner, May 2016

Photo: Fre Sonneveld