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I’m about to celebrate the holidays after losing my newborn daughter just four days after she was born 15 weeks premature. It will also be the first year since her death. I’m faced with a challenge as I’m mourning the loss of my baby while also celebrating the holiday with her surviving twin.
I am a grieving parent. I am torn as I want to celebrate with my daughter but I am also grieving the loss of my daughter, Finley. She is missing the holidays, not checking off important milestones but still very much a part of our lives.
I don’t want to not celebrate the holidays as that would only mask my grief. Grief is very much a part of my life now. Pretending I’m completely strong is only a lie and feels wrong. The holidays will always bring about sadness for Finley. Now I need to learn how to celebrate the holidays that work for my family now that we are grieving parents.
As a new grieving parent here is a list of 5 ways to survive the first holiday after the loss of your baby.
1. Listen to your feelings.
You know your body and emotions the best so listen to what it’s saying. If you don’t think you can go to every holiday event then don’t force yourself. Pick the most important ones or the ones you think you can handle and go with that. Don’t put added pressure on yourself by trying to make every single event when you know your not up to it.
It’s also completely alright to cancel the holidays. If you know there is no way you can handle the holidays then don’t put yourself through them. Your family and friends will understand. Listen to your feelings and do what is best for you and your family.
2. Celebrate your baby.
Now is the time you can incorporate new traditions. Find a way to celebrate your baby you lost.
A great idea is to have a special tree in honor of your baby. You can put it up in your house, outside, or at the cemetery. You can even get a special color tree or use special ornaments.
Put a special ornament that represents your baby up on your Christmas tree. Some ideas are angel ornaments, baby footprints, my 1st Christmas or a photo. I have a few on my tree that is for my daughter. You can look on Pinterest or even Etsy for some great ideas.
Do a special activity as a family. This year we are going to look at Christmas lights on the day Finley passed away. It’s something new we are starting and are hopeful to continue it each year. I know spending time as a family doing something you enjoy won’t take the pain away but it’s nice to not be alone when faced with such sadness.
3. Donate in your child’s name
With the holiday’s it’s hard not to be purchasing presents for your baby you lost. So instead donate to a good cause in your child’s name. There are also several families you can adopt over the holiday’s where you get a list of items they are in need of.
If you had a premature baby and they spent time in the NICU donate to the hospital or give care packages to families. There are several organizations that you can donate to so when choosing to go with the one that has meaning to you or your baby.
4. Reach out
The holidays can bring up different emotions that you may not be used to and require you to reach out to your support system. Don’t think you can handle it alone. Whether your support system is your spouse, best friend, parent, sibling, online group, or therapist reach out to them for help grieving during the holidays.
Your support system is someone you can lean on and count as you shouldn’t be handling this alone. Don’t feel ashamed for having to reach out as we all need someone that we can lean on. Hopefully, in some way, your support system will help you during the holidays.
5. Take time to take care of yourself
The holidays are unbelievably difficult for grieving parents. But through the sadness and chaos, it’s so important to take time to care for yourself. Spend the day at the spa getting pampered. Go shopping or to the movies. Have lunch with a friend who has been supportive of you.
During this time of year, you must take extra care of yourself. You are already vulnerable and fragile and even more so during the holidays. After the holidays are over make the promise that you will continue with self-care throughout the next year. Make yourself a priority and don’t feel guilty about it.
Surviving the first holiday after the loss of a baby
I’m not an expert at grief. I’m just a grieving mother taking it one day at a time. I do hope in some way that what has helped me will help someone else who is grieving.
The holidays aren’t the only time of year that you will be faced with grief but for many, it’s the most challenging time.
Do what feels best for you and your family. I wish you lots of luck with your first holiday. Remember you are not alone