My top 10 tips to manage the holiday season
If you’re struggling with the holiday season after a recent miscarriage or a pregnancy loss, I get you. Many people feel little holiday cheer after losing a baby, particularly if the loss was recent.
You might feel reluctant to attend gatherings, not wanting to face pregnant relatives or friends with new infants. In addition, you might feel like everywhere you look, you see a reminder that there should have been another face in the family photo or another stocking by the fireplace.
To make Christmas, Hanukkah, New Year’s Eve, or other holiday gatherings easier to tolerate while you are grieving, here are several tips to try out now.
1) Listen to yourself & know your limits
If you are invited to a party that you know will cause your more stress than not, it’s ok to say: “Thanks, but no thanks.”
Trust your instinct, if you don’t feel well or don’t feel social after your loss, simply bail out.
But consider who else you can hang out with, friend(s) who will help take your mind off things for a little while.
Who can you call to have a wine, a chat or a cry?
2) Have an escape route
If you must attend the event, work out where there could be a quiet spot you can find refuge if you need some time to yourself.
Or have a reason ready for leaving early before you reach the overwhelm point.
Stay tuned to how you are feeling through the event.
And give yourself a pat on the back for doing so!
Is that something you can do?
3) Build your strength
A little self-care will go a long way.
Go as silly or as simple as you wish here.
You can book a holiday or make yourself a cup of tea!
In any case neither of these will make you feel any better, because when you are feeling numb you can’t actually enjoy any of it, right?
So the key here is going to be the intention and the feeling you associate with it.
Let me explain.
What if love is all we need 🎶, as the song goes? I find it so liberating to realise I can infuse every single little daily act with absolute love, kindness and compassion.
For example when I cook my family their meals I consciously pour love into the dishes, and when I scoop biscuits into my puppy’s bowl I do just the same!
But here is the magic tip, are you ready for it?
Pour some love in what you do for yourself too! Next time you make a cup of tea for yourself, add love to it.
Next time you have a shower, feel love running onto your body with each water drops 💦.
Next time you brush your teeth feel love for you are performing such a sweet self care act for yourself.
Interesting, isn’t it?
Read more on how to master this practice in my blog post 4-simple-steps-to-meditate/
So when you take a deep breath, close your eyes and travel to a peaceful place, feel the love for myriad of little cells that are working for you 🤙 as they are doing such an extraordinary job every single day.
4) Have words ready
Jessica Zucker, PhD said it best: “If you find yourself in situations with people who aren’t familiar with your story and inquiries get batted around like, “How many children do you have?”, “Don’t you want another?”, “Oh wow, that’s a big age gap. You didn’t want your kids closer together?!”, feel free to answer honestly.
If you want to talk about your loss, do.
If you want to honour your journey, your baby, and/or simply want to help change the cultural tide by speaking openly about death at a (holiday) party, go for it. If not, don’t.
Questions like these are so common and yet so deeply intimate, they deserve honest answers.
It’s okay if our stories make people uncomfortable. They’re our truths and there ain’t no shame in that.
Say what you want and know that speaking your truth helps the rest of us do the same!”
5) Chose your battles
We all have one of them in our family, lol, the relative who simply doesn’t get it. The ignorant, the tactless, or the simply opinionated dick that throws thoughtless comments at you.
There you have a choice, you can try to educate the person (it may be a lost battle) or you just agree to disagree, nod and leave it at that.
People are doing the best they can with what they know; however infuriating or hurtful the comments may appear to you, these relatives may not be insensitive or ill-intended; they simply have not been through what you are going through.
So it’s best to change the subject sometimes, send them blessings, and move on.
6) Share your feelings
Remember that losing a pregnancy, no matter how early in the pregnancy that was, is still a loss. So it is ok to mourn.
Grieving is a natural and healthy process that helps us comes to term with the event.
If your close circle of family and friends have never experienced a pregnancy loss, they may not really understand what you are going through.
So opening up to them about how you feel, or what you wish they would do / stop doing should make them be more supportive.
I remember asking a few close friends if I could show them pictures of my stillborn daughter, because it helped me grieve to be able to share and talk about Amélie as a real person, as a normal baby.
7) Seek comfort where you can
Consider connecting in a local face-to-face or online support group (facebook.com/groups/mammaste), and other bereaved parents and professionals who really get you.
These groups are ideal because you can talk freely, there is no judgement.
If you are spiritual, you can attend a service or arrange a prayer for your child.
If you are worried that you might be clinically depressed, please reach out for a counsellor or mental health professional for advice.
It’s ok to need help. It’s ok to seek help.
8) Help others
Now that’s an interesting one. Because we often find soothing to our own hurt by assisting others who are in need.
Is there a charity effort you can contribute to, such as holiday gifts collection for less fortunate children or for a women’s shelter? Can you serve meals to the homeless? What about volunteering at your local nursing home?
Do you have a talent you can gift to someone?
For example I volunteer to give aromaTouch hand massage to the elderly, because I see the value in the power of touch and connection. It brings me closer to my mum who spent the last two years of her life in a nursing home 25,000km away from where I lived (she passed away from Alzheimer and i wish I could have been with her to ease her solitude).
Can you connect with what make your soul sing?
9) Enjoy the goodness
Life is all about balance. Where there is shadows there is also light.
This one is super important to build yourself back up.
So don’t worry if you actually have a good time! There is no shame or guilt in experiencing life’s pleasures.
If a negative feeling comes up, simply acknowledge it, take a deep breath, and let it pass, so you can return to the pleasurable sensation.
And while you do, send love to your baby. Would you like to try that?
10) Carry an anchor
LOL not literally! Rather something that can easily and quickly take you back to a happy place. What could it be for you? A cute picture of your bestie, your lover, your kids, your pets? A childhood song? A piece of chocolate or nanna’s special pie? The smell of the rainforest?
For me it’s kittens, there is no way I cannot melt in awwwws when I look at my kitty cats (I bread Bengal kittens).
Now because I cannot carry around my cats, I have the perfect portable substitute for instantaneous emotional happiness: I use essential oils.
Natural plant based aromatic chemistry is scientifically proven to affect the limbic system, the centre of the brain where our emotions are stored.
That is why a smell of a cake baking in the oven can take you straight back to a childhood memory! So I use mood enhancing essential oils and in particular citrus oils to alter my mood in a blink of an eye.
For more of my aromatherapy tips and soothing recipes, go here ().
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