For families grieving the loss of a child, the holiday season may feel particularly painful. Joni Cutshaw, bereavement coordinator for the Memories to Hold program at Franciscan Health Indianapolis, shares tips for families for navigating the winter holidays and events.
How will I make it through the holidays?
Thanksgiving, Hanukkah, Christmas, Kwanzaa and New Year’s Eve are supposed to be “happy” times.
Happy may not be what you feel, however, when your heart is broken. Holidays are important to many and some of us plan for them all year. Celebrate in a way that works for you and your family.
Take care of yourself and consider the suggestions below. May the season bring you peace.
- Minimize family traditions unless they are a comfort to you.
- Share your feelings with family and friends. They may have no idea what it is like for you.
- Be open with your children. They can bring great comfort, and you will teach them how to grieve.
- Give yourself time to cry if you feel like crying.
- Decide what is really important to you.
- Be aware there can be many triggers for crying and they can hit at any time.
- Give your spouse or significant other a code word and have a planned excuse to leave an event if it is too hard to stay.
- Bake for the holidays only if it is a comfort to you.
- Don’t feel guilty if sending cards this year is too hard.
- Try to minimize your alcohol and sugar intake.
- Consider shopping during non-peak times. Or have a friend or family member shop for you.
- Don’t feel guilty if you enjoy yourself. Your baby would want you to.
- Try new stress reduction methods, such as deep breathing, yoga, meditation, or aroma therapy.
Make the holidays a time to remember
- Make a donation to a charity in your baby’s name.
- Place a special ornament on the tree
- Hang a stocking and place special notes to the baby in the stocking.
- Buy a living tree and decorate it. Then plant it in the yard as a remembrance.
- Place luminaries along the driveway.
- Invite another family who has experienced a loss to dinner
By Joni Cutshaw
Memories to Hold, Franciscan Health - Indianapolis