Christmas can be an incredibly difficult time after pregnancy loss. With so much focus on children, family and socialising you may feel even more alone in your grief. There was probably a time when you imagined celebrating Christmas cradling a pregnancy bump or with your baby in-arms.
Your grief may not be well understood by people around you because it is not the loss of a specific person, as it is with other forms of grief. It is instead more ambiguous. It’s the loss of an imagined future and of all the possible babies and life stories that might have existed. Nothing can prevent you from the pain of seeing these hopes and dreams being lived out by other pregnant woman or new parents at Christmas time.
Whether you choose to celebrate Christmas in ways that you did before your baby died, make new traditions this year, or avoid Christmas altogether, there is no one way to get through the festive period.
What might help?
Be kind to yourself
Grief is unique to each of us. A process of spinning through evolving emotions such as sorrow, regret, hopelessness, and anger. Your grief will take its own unique form. Make space for emotions as and when they arise. Allowing yourself to feel is a part of the process and ultimately helpful. Meet yourself with compassion in the hardest moments.
Take time to grieve and remember your baby in the way that feels right for you
- Hanging special decorations
- Visiting a special place
- Adding a Christmas card or gift to a memory box
- Donate to a charity in their name, perhaps instead of sending cards
- Writing them a letter
- Lighting a candle in their memory
- Talk about them by name
Don’t feel pressured to celebrate
Give yourself permission to avoid situations which might be triggering, for example, where you know you will be exposed to other pregnancies or babies. Equally, balance this with accessing as much social support as you can. You might find the benefits of socialising outweigh the discomfort, or that this varies day-by-day depending how resilient you feel.
Find an ‘out’
If you do have to go somewhere think ahead about how you might take a break if you feel overwhelmed. Find a quiet space early-on and take regular breathers. Agree a secret signal to your partner or friend that you will be disappearing for a while or need them to come and support you. It’s okay to prepare your hosts that you might want to leave early or plan an excuse if that’s more comfortable.
Think ahead about how you might respond to questions
This helps avoid being caught off-guard by well-intentioned but upsetting comments about your pregnancy or baby. It is perfectly okay to say something like ‘I’d rather not talk about it’ and change the subject. Equally be prepared that some people won’t mention anything at all, which probably reflects their ignorance or discomfort and not how much they care about you.
Don’t feel bad if you find moments of happiness
It is not a betrayal to your baby and nor does it take anything away from how much you love and miss them.
If you need support over Christmas
Sands Helpline 0808 164 3332 (10am to 3pm Monday to Friday and 6pm to 9pm Tuesday and Thursday evenings) or email firstname.lastname@example.org
Tommy’s Helpline 0800 014 7800 (Monday to Friday, 9am to 5pm) or join Tommy’s facebook support
Contact me to find out how I can help you after pregnancy or baby loss.
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Dr Miriam Inder ~ Helping you have Better Beginnings