Helping bereaved parents through the holiday season

So this past Wednesday I may or may not had a complete mental breakdown … or as Heather Dubrow would say: “A Psychotic Break” 😉

But seriously, all of a sudden the weight and anticipation of the holidays hit me like a ton a bricks. I could not stop the tears if I tried. I had this very clear realization of our current family situation. That we are supposed to be a family of four (yes, I include our dog) this Christmas. Yet, here you are Christmas 2016 and we’re back to just the three of us again. This Christmas was going to be our son’s first big road trip. We’d be overwhelmed with packing and trying to navigate a 7 hour drive with an infant. Now we’re just overwhelmed with surviving the holidays. He was going to be meeting a lot of family and friends for the very first time this Christmas. We would be gleaming with pride as we introduced the newest part of our family to our loved ones. But we will be showing up to these family gatherings empty handed, not with a baby carrier like we imagined. We would be celebrating “Baby’s First Christmas” and no doubt he would be spoiled with many gifts. You know, when they’re this young, as their parent you unwrap these gifts but include your child as if they are the ones doing it. Also thanking these gift givers on your child’s behalf. Now there will not be any gifts labeled for Baby Boy under anyone’s tree this year.

So how does one survive a time that is supposed to be beyond joyful but now is a reminder of everything you lost? We need family and friends to offer some extra support that will lighten this extremely heaving load that we’re carrying.

  • Consider sending a different holiday card this year.

Especially if you’ve welcomed a child this year. They don’t need another reminder that their child isn’t on their own card this year. Forgo the one that you are mass mailing to everyone else with your perfect styled family photo. If you still want to send warm wishes, find a generic card but include a personal message to them and their child.

  • Ask what their triggers are and what you can do to help.

Be mindful that certain holiday traditions may cause mass amounts of pain and could intensify their child’s absence. Just asking what their triggers are, it makes them know that someone is aware and that they aren’t suffering in silence.

  • In lieu of a physical gift, consider a donation.

The only thing they want this year unfortunately is not tangible. Give to a charity that you know is close to their hearts and do it in memory of their child.

  • Be understanding that they may not be in full holiday spirits.

They may have to decline an invitation to a holiday gathering or leave early if they become too overwhelmed. So do not take it personally. Grief is exhausting and can hit out of nowhere.

  • Accept that you do not have profound or wise words to offer.

There are no words that can take away the pain they are feeling. But a big hug and a listening ear goes a long way. If tears come, let them cry.

  • Don’t be afraid to speak their child’s name.

There is in no way that you could “remind” a parent of their gone child. Believe me, it’s on their mind every second of everyday. So hearing someone else say their name, makes them know their child isn’t forgotten.

At the end of the day, just be kind. Be kind to everyone this holiday season, you have no idea the weight and pain they may be carrying ❤

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